First Read: NAACP vs. MD Death Penalty

Benjamin Jealous scheduled to appear in Annapolis Tuesday

- As Maryland's General Assembly is set to restart business on Wednesday, the NAACP plans to make its case against the state's death penalty in Annapolis.

The Washington Post reports NAACP chief Benjamin Jealous will be holding a press event in the state's capital on Tuesday to call attention to "systemic flaws" with the death penalty.

The Post says Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker is expected to join Jealous.  The state has not performed an execution since 2006, but capital punishment remains a contentious issue.  O'Malley failed to push through a bill to abolish the death penalty in 2009.

More anti-death penalty rallies are planned for January 16, Martin Luther King Day.

- In a ceremony in Annapolis on Monday, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed an executive order for the state to officially recognize two Native American tribes, the Piscataway Conoy and the Piscataway Indian Nation.

"This is indeed a momentous occasion," said Savoy, chairwoman of the Piscataway-Conoy Tribe told the Baltimore Sun. "We have waited more than 200 years to get our identity back."

The official recognition gives tribe members access to federal education, housing, and health funding, as well as preferred access to state and local contracts as minority business owners.

But the Sun says that in negotiating the official status, the Piscataways agreed not to pursue casino ownership.

- In Virginia, George Allen's fundraising machine is rolling.

The U.S. Senate hopeful gathered $1.1 million in the last quarter of 2011, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

That war chest puts Allen well ahead of the rest of the Republican field.

Numbers were not yet available for Democrat Tim Kaine's 4th quarter fundraising.  However, at the end of the third quarter, Kaine's team was on pace with Allen, and actually had more cash on hand.

- Absentee ballots will go out late to Virginia voters because of Rick Perry's lawsuit.

From the Virginia-Pilot: U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney ordered the State Board of Elections to direct local electoral boards to refrain from mailing out absentee ballots until after he makes a ruling Friday on the candidates' bid to be included on the March 6 ballot. The hearing is set for Friday morning.

Perry failed to meet the state's guidelines to get onto the presidential primary ballot.  But he's been joined by Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman in a lawsuit to change the rules before the March 6 vote.

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