The Maryland Senate has approved a measure to repeal capital punishment.
The Senate vote Wednesday pushes the death penalty ban over a hurdle that blocked Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's repeal efforts in 2009.
The bill now moves to the House of Delegates, where supporters are confident they have the votes to pass it.
However, lawmakers who support the death penalty say voters will likely decide the issue in 2014. That's because they expect citizens will petition the issue to the ballot.
Maryland has five men on death row. The last execution took place in 2005, during the administration of Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich. The state's death penalty has been on hold since a 2006 court ruling that Maryland's lethal injection protocols weren't properly approved by a legislative committee.