- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A proposal to shield the origin of Ohio’s execution drugs could see legislative action by the end of the year, top lawmakers said Thursday.

The Republican leaders of the Legislature said they’ve been working with prosecutors and the state’s attorney general on a plan, though they offered few details about it.

Senate President Keith Faber of Celina said the measure would likely shield the identities of drugmakers that create specialty doses of execution drugs.

“I think the general idea is to the let the Department of Corrections acquire those things in private and not to have to disclose publicly who they’re buying their drugs from,” Faber said. “Who they buy their drugs from, I don’t think, is necessarily relevant to what their mission is.”

Executions are on hold until February because of challenges to the state’s two-drug lethal injection method, which has resulted in prolonged executions in Ohio and Arizona.

House Speaker William Batchelder of Medina said the bill could be introduced in the House as soon as Monday.

The leaders’ comments came after they addressed participants at a postelection conference where lawmakers and administration officials discussed policy issues facing the state.

Faber said he also anticipates Senate action on proposals addressing municipal taxes, red light cameras and guns. Batchelder said the House could take up bills dealing with credit unions and agricultural runoff during the final days that remain of the legislative session.

“Just a little bit about what happens in lame duck - it isn’t called lame duck for any particular reason except that you never know what the hell is going to happen next,” Batchelder told the conference audience.

Other conference topics included the state’s next two-year budget and the future of the expansion of Medicaid, the safety-net program that provides health coverage for the poor and disabled.

State budget director Tim Keen said Ohio’s financial position is strong and stable, but that does not mean crafting the next two-year budget will be easy. He said there’s work to be done to reduce the state’s income tax and contain Medicaid costs.

Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, moved forward with extending Medicaid eligibility last fall under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. He will need legislative approval to continue to pay for it next year.

Keen said Kasich’s spending proposal would include recommended funding to support the Medicaid extension.

It’s unclear what kind of reception that could get in the GOP-controlled Legislature, which had balked when Kasich sought approval in his 2013 budget plan. The state’s Controlling Board appropriated the funds, not the full Legislature.

Faber said he didn’t know where the Senate would be on Medicaid expansion.

“It probably will be not something that remains part of the budget,” he said, anticipating debate outside the spending blueprint.

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