2008 General Assembly

Key Figures on the Legislative Front Lines

Stories by Lisa Rein, John Wagner and Philip Rucker, Washington Post Staff Writers

Legal Gatekeeper

Sen. Brian E. Frosh
(The Washington Post)

The committee led by Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) will weigh a bill this session to repeal the death penalty -- and another to expand its application.

Frosh also expects a bill to be sent to the Judicial Proceedings Committee that would allow same-sex marriage in Maryland -- and another that would write its prohibition into the state Constitution.

His panel probably will also consider legislation to expand the rights of illegal immigrants -- and legislation to limit their rights.

How many of those bills advance to the Senate floor remains to be seen. But "Judicial Proceedings will be the center ring of the circus of controversial issues this session," said Frosh, a mild-mannered but quick-witted lawyer who has presided over the panel since 2003.

Frosh, 61, who handles commercial litigation and real estate law for a Montgomery-based firm in which he is a partner, was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1987. After serving two terms, he successfully sought a seat in the Senate in 1994. He has stood out in the Senate for his ability to advocate for complex bills on the chamber's floor.

He is among a handful of senators angling to take over leadership of the chamber if Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) follows through on his plans to retire after 2010. "The best way to campaign for that is to be the best possible senator I can be," Frosh said.

-- John Wagner

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