- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Lawmakers in the state House Tuesday overwhelmingly supported a proposal to let Louisiana’s corrections department keep information on the suppliers of execution drugs hidden from the public.

The House voted 94-2 for the measure by Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, joining a national push among states for confidentiality.

Supporters say secrecy is needed to combat a drug shortage caused by pharmacies that do not want to be associated with executions. Lopinto said Louisiana has a shortage of lethal injection drugs.

“We don’t have a stockpile of the medication when we need it,” he said.

Louisiana’s corrections department has rewritten its execution plan several times since its last lethal injection in 2010 because of the drug shortages.

In January, the state announced a new execution protocol that would use a two-drug combination, following the method carried out for the first time in Ohio. It includes the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. The corrections department says it has both drugs on hand.

But the state’s next execution has been repeatedly delayed during an ongoing federal lawsuit seeking more details about the lethal injection plans.

Lopinto said Tuesday that information on the drug makers could be obtained through a request by a federal district court under his bill, but wouldn’t be subject to public records requests.

Critics argue the confidentiality makes it impossible to determine if a prisoner’s constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment is being violated. Similar laws have been challenged in other states.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Louisiana would join Georgia, Arkansas, South Dakota and Tennessee as states that allow the identity of lethal injection drug makers to be kept secret, if the Senate agrees to the bill.

The measure is one of two proposals from Lopinto that address lethal injection.

He has also proposed a resolution that calls for a study into what alternative execution methods the state could use if it cannot get execution drugs. That resolution is scheduled for consideration by a House committee Wednesday.



House Bill 328 can be found at www.legis.la.gov .

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