Multiple Articles - Ohio Legislature Begins Committee Consideration of LI Secrecy Bill

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Steve Hall

Nov 13, 2014, 12:23:59 PM11/13/14

This e-mail contains news articles from:

                Columbus Dispatch - Bill would hide name of Ohio’s execution drugmaker

                Dix News Service - Hearings begin on Ohio measure to keep names of execution drug providers secret

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Thursday November 13, 2014 - 5:32 AM


Bill would hide name of Ohio’s execution drugmaker

By Alan Johnson | The Columbus Dispatch


High-stakes legislation aimed at preventing public disclosure of the source of drugs used in Ohio executions ran into opposition minutes after it was formally unveiled yesterday.


House Bill 663 would protect the identity of individuals and entities that manufacture, compound or supply drugs used for lethal injections. It also would provide anonymity for any physician who participates in the process, as well as members of the prison execution team.


Introduced on Monday by Republican Reps. Jim Buchy of Greenville and Matt Huffman of Lima, the bill was promptly assigned to a House committee and had its first hearing yesterday.


The sponsors said executions in Ohio will be unable to proceed next year unless the General Assembly passes the bill before the end of the current session, on Dec. 31.


“Ohio and most other states have exhausted their options” in obtaining execution drugs from manufacturers, most of them in Europe, Buchy told the House Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee.


He said the bill would require that information about drugs used in executions be “confidential, privileged and not subject to subpoena, discovery and public-records law.”


That would provide anonymity for small “compounding pharmacies” that make drug combinations specifically for customer requests. Some of the pharmacies are in Franklin County.


Rep. Mike Curtin, D-Marble Cliff, a member of the committee, questioned the consequences of making secret the state’s power of “life and death,” a process he said has been public since Ohio conducted executions by hanging.


“Why should we be rushing in lame-duck session to pull the shroud of secrecy over this issue?” Curtin said.


State policy has always been that executions should be conducted with “as much transparency and public oversight as possible,” he said.


Curtin’s question was echoed by Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria.


“I don’t see why we need all this secrecy,” he said. “Talk about going behind the curtain.”


Buchy and Huffman defended the legislation, saying it is advocated by Attorney General Mike DeWine and Ohio prosecutors.


“A lot of people that oppose this legislation are opposed to capital punishment and would like to delay it to Timbuktu,” Buchy said.


Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien testified passionately for the bill, saying the drug issue might prevent the execution of Alva Campbell, a Columbus man who escaped from custody, hijacked a car and shot and killed 18-year-old Charles Dials on April 2, 1997.


Campbell has an execution date of March 23, 2016.


O’Brien said he is aware of concerns surrounding the Jan. 16 execution of Dennis McGuire who gasped, choked and struggled for about 25 minutes after being injected with a combination of drugs never before used in the U.S.


“I wonder if the 18-year-old boy gasped when he was shot in the back of the head on the South Side of Columbus,” O’Brien said.

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November 12, 2014 - 4:59PM | via Aurora Advocate

Hearings begin on Ohio measure to keep names of execution drug providers secret



Columbus — The names of pharmacies that provide execution drugs to the state would be kept secret, under legislation being considered in the Ohio House.


House Bill 663 had its first hearing Nov. 12 before the Ohio House’s Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee, a couple of days after it was introduced. The Republican leaders of the Ohio House and Senate have said they want to move the law changes before the end of the year.

Co-sponsoring Reps. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) and Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said the legislation is needed to address concerns raised about Ohio’s administration of the death penalty.


Executions have been on hold for most of the year, after a federal judge postponed scheduled lethal injections while state prison officials consider changes to the execution process.


The stay was initially implemented following the prolonged death of Dennis McGuire in January, who received a capital sentence for the rape and murder of a pregnant Preble County woman.


McGuire was the first inmate executed using a new two-drug combination; the process took about 25 minutes, and witnesses described him gasping for breath.


State prison officials who reviewed his execution said McGuire was “asleep and not conscious” and “did not experience pain, distress or air hunger” during his lethal injection.


The next scheduled execution, pending additional delays, will be Ronald Phillips on Feb. 11.


Under execution protocols adopted last year, state prison officials could purchase lethal injection mixtures from compounding pharmacies — a change that was made after the manufacturer of such drugs refused to sell them for use in executions.


But Attorney General Mike DeWine said last month that state prison officials have had difficulties finding pharmacies willing to provide the state’s lethal injection drug because they don’t want to be identified publicly.


HB 663 would provide confidentiality to anyone involved in the procurement of lethal injection drugs.


“These changes are necessary because Ohio and most other states have exhausted their options for purchasing chemicals used in lethal injections, largely because European manufacturers will not sell drugs for executions,” Buchy said. “As such, legislation is needed to allow for compounding pharmacies to legally combine materials into compounds that can be used for executions and to provide for the anonymity and legal immunity for these compounding pharmacies.”


HB 663 has the support of prosecutors across the state.


But Democratic members of the Policy and Legislative Oversight Committee questioned the bill and the pace at which it’s moving through the legislature.


Rep. Michael Curtin (D-Columbus), retired editor of The Columbus Dispatch, also voiced concern about changing state law to exempt execution drug information from public records laws and the scope of records that would be covered by the proposed law changes.


“That could have tremendous unintended consequences, and all I’m asking for is whether the sponsor and the proponents of this bill feel that this must be solved in lame duck session when clearly we don’t have the time to bring all the people we’d like to bring in to understand the consequences of what we’re doing,” Curtin said.


Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) added, “I just don’t see where we can actually verify... Shouldn’t we have some knowledge that we’re getting what we’re actually paying for?”

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Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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Steve Hall

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