Bill to shield identities of those involved in manufacturing and preparing the state’s death penalty cocktail moves
The House is poised to expand the shroud of secrecy that surrounds Florida executions to suppliers of the lethal drug cocktail.
The House gave preliminary approval March 1 to HB 873 by Rep. Patt Maney, R-Fort Walton Beach.
“The purpose of the bill is to make sure that the Department of Corrections can carry out its statutory responsibility,” Maney said.
Sponsors say a public records exemption that protects anyone involved in an execution from “harassment, intimidation and physical harm,” is needed to protect suppliers as well.
“Similarly, an entity involved in supplying the drugs or equipment used in administering a lethal injection could be the subject of negative publicity and a resulting loss of business,” according to a staff analysis.
Supporters also warn that Florida, like other death penalty states, is having difficulty maintaining an adequate supply of the drugs.
Critics, including the First Amendment Foundation, say Georgia and other states continue to suffer a shortage after enacting a similar exemption.
Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Winter Park, warned the measure would prevent the public from holding suppliers accountable.
Maney responded the drugs used in a lethal injection are listed on the Department of Corrections website.
“I understand that we would know what the drug is,” Smith said. “But how do we know who the supplier is, and how do we hold them accountable?”
Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, asked Maney why the exemption is retroactive.
“I wanted to make sure that we clarify that we are protecting everybody in the supply chain,” Maney said.
Sponsors have warned that without access to the drug, Florida could be forced to switch to electrocution. Florida law currently gives inmates a choice.
But when pressed, Maney didn’t go quite so far.
“The Legislature is going to have to figure out what they’re going to do,” he said.
A companion measure, SB 1204 by Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Pensacola, is on the Senate calendar.