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Senate votes to keep info on execution drugs confidential

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Posted: May 27, 2014 4:43 PM
Updated: May 27, 2014 5:00 PM
Source: Associated Press

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Topics: lethal injection, execution, drugs, senate, confidential

BATON ROUGE - A proposal that would allow the Louisiana corrections department to keep information on execution drugs confidential continues to advance in the Legislature.

A Senate judiciary committee backed the measure by Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, on Tuesday after amending it to allow the state to get drugs used for lethal injection from out-of-state pharmacies, including less-regulated compound pharmacies.

The measure is meant to combat a national shortage of drugs used to execute inmates through lethal injection, the only execution option in Louisiana. The proposal would shield details on the drug makers from public information requests.

Lopinto said protecting the identities of pharmacies and expanding pharmacy options beyond the state's border will expand access to drugs needed to carry out executions.

Opponents disagreed, saying the measure would hurt accountability by making it difficult to ensure execution drugs do not cause a cruel and unusual death.

"It isn't the answer to our problem," said Sydney Garmon, executive director of the Louisiana Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Also testifying against the bill was Steve Beatty, editor of the New Orleans online publication The Lens, who said it was not the responsibility of lawmakers to protect pharmacies from public condemnation.

Other opponents included the Louisiana Press Association and the state's public defenders.

However, there arguments did not sway lawmakers who backed the House-approved measure without objection. It moves next to the Senate floor for further debate.

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