Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks at a rally in support of repealing the state's death penalty in January. (Patrick Semansky — Associated Press)

The Maryland Senate on Friday, shortly after 9:30 a.m., launched into what is expected to be a lengthy and emotional debate on repealing the death penalty .

The bill, sponsored by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), would replace capital punishment with life without the possibility of parole. A final Senate vote is expected next week. If the bill passes, it moves next to the House of Delegates. It would make Maryland the 18th state to repeal the death penalty.

The chamber is expected to consider numerous amendments to a bill that passed out the Judicial Proceedings Committee last week.

The debate comes a day after the chamber passed O’Malley’s gun-control legislation.