We are quickly approaching the midway point of the 2013 legislative session. Last week was relatively quiet by Annapolisstandards. The death penalty was the lone exception which showcased another piece of the Governor’s agenda. Maryland law requires that in order to seek the death penalty, the crime must be convicted as First Degree Murder plus an aggravating factor (there are 14 factors.) In 2009, Maryland death penalty laws were revisited and rather than repealing the law, the cases in which it could be imposed required that there be DNA evidence linking the Defendant to the murder, a voluntary videotaped confession, or a video recording of the murder. These provisions insure that the innocent are protected.
This year the Governor, by means of legislation, is making another attempt to repeal the death penalty in its entirety. The committee hearing on SB 276 - Death Penalty Repeal and Appropriation from Savings to Aid Survivors of Homicide Victims,was this past Thursday, and lasted approximately 6 hours. Both sides provided compelling testimony, some was rather disturbing. The death penalty was reinstated in Maryland in 1978. Prior to that time, there were 306 executions in Maryland. Since that time, there have been 5. To put this into perspective, the state of Texas imposed the death penalty sentence on 474 individuals while in California, 721 people have sat on Death Row. These numbers demonstrate that in Maryland, the death penalty is imposed sparingly and judiciously. An overview of the five cases was provided and in each of these cases, there was no uncertainty that the individuals convicted were guilty. The details of each case were so horrific, that it seems unimaginable that any other punishment would have sufficed.
On a less controversial, more parliamentarian note, last week also saw the delivery of the “Green Bag” to theSenate. Under the Maryland Constitution, the Governor nominates and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints all civil officers and officials of the State whose appointment or election is not otherwise provided in the constitution or in the laws. The constitution requires the Governor to submit nominations of civil officers to theSenate of Maryland within 40 days of the start of each regular session.
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The appointments, known as the Green Bag appointments, are submitted in a green leather bag, embossed with the Maryland Great Seal which modeled the green bags used by English barristers to convey official documents. When it is not being used in the annual presentation ceremony, the Green Bag resides at the State Archives.
This year, the list of gubernatorial appointments was delivered in the official Green Bag of Maryland to the President of the Senate on February 15th during the morning session because the 40th day fell on Sunday, February 17th. The Senate Executive Nominations Committee examines all of these nominations. Although Executive Nominations may not always been viewed as a priority, it is one of the many constitutionally mandated responsibilities of the Maryland Senate.
On a personal note, many of you may recall my father had a life-threatening injury due to a fall from a ladder in October 2011. His injuries would have been fatal if not for the investments this State has made in emergency medicine. The quick action of the EMS providers, the swift transportation from the State Police’s Medivac helicopter, and finally the amazing talent of the doctors and nurses of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, all collaboratively saved my father’s life for which I am eternally grateful.
Initiated by Governor Mandel’s Executive Order in 1973, and later codified by the General Assembly, Shock Trauma is the core element of the state’s emergency medical system. I am honored to have been nominated and now serve on the Board of Visitors for the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. The Trauma Resuscitation Unit (TRU) is the Center’s “emergency room” and where miracles take place every day. Treating over 8600 critically injured patients a year, Shock Trauma and its TRU facility save the lives of a staggering 97% of its patients. This is truly a world class trauma facility, and we in Maryland, can be proud and grateful for the service and exemplary care they provide to the most critically injured patients in the region.
As a volunteer firefighter and EMT for over 15 years I responded to, treated, and transported numerous patients to various hospitals. Many ended up at Shock Trauma. As a first responder, I witnessed traumatic injuries firsthand when I arrived at the scene. And now, serving on the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Board of Visitors, I had the opportunity to spend a twelve hour shift in the TRU, observing the doctors and nurses and what they do on a daily basis. Dressed in pink scrubs, I stood beside them as they worked to save lives.
That evening, I watched as patients were rushed in from all over the state. I was impressed with how proficient and organized the doctors and nurses were. Just two examples of what I witnessed that evening include the arrival of several auto accident victims who were airlifted from Talbot County, followed by a stabbing victim from Western Maryland who was brought in by ambulance. The experience left me in awe and with a renewed awareness of how vitally important the Shock Trauma Center is to our State. I am honored to be a part of the greatest trauma hospital in the world.
Join Us for 7th District Night
Lastly, I want to remind you that next Monday night, February 25th is the 7th Legislative District Night in Annapolis. Even if you don’t live in the 7th District we’d love to have you here. It will take place from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Miller Senate Office Building West 1, President’s Conference Center. The evening will include refreshments, an optional tour of the State House, and the opportunity to observe the Senate and House of Delegates during the Monday evening session. I hope you can make. If you have any questions, please call my office at (410) 841-3706
Senator J.B. Jennings