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House approves lethal drug cocktail shield bill

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Rep. Pat Maney

Rep. Pat Maney

The House has agreed to extend a public records exemption to shield manufactures of the lethal drug cocktail used in Florida executions.

The House voted 84-32 on March 2 to approve HB 873 by Rep. Patt Maney, R-Fort Walton Beach.

Maney, a former county judge, urged his colleagues to set aside their feelings about the death penalty and focus more narrowly on the question before them.

“Sometimes, simple facts confound the wise, and I think that might be what’s happening today,” he said. “Voting for this bill will allow the Department of Corrections to have access to the drugs it needs to carry out the law – it’s that simple.”

Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith, D-Winter Park, and one of the measure’s sharpest critics, said he agreed with Maney.

“This is not about whether you support or oppose the death penalty,” he said. “The bill is defeating oversight of the effectiveness of the drugs and the public has the constitutional right to know about the safety records of the suppliers of these drugs.”

According to a staff analysis, the bill “ensures that the identities of the manufacturers and retailers that supply lethal injection drugs to DOC are exempt from disclosure and ensures DOC will be able to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out executions in the future.”

But Smith quoted from news accounts of a similar exemption and how it failed to solve another state’s supply challenges.

“Texas passed a law in 2015, but the Texas Tribune reports that they maintain their supply not by secrecy, but by extending the expiration date of the drugs that they have on supply,” he said.

Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Valrico, defended the proposal noting that many law enforcement records are exempt.

“I can’t think of anything more sensitive that the state does than the death penalty,” he said. “If you’re going to do it, do it right.”

A companion, SB 1204 by Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Pensacola, awaits a final vote on the Senate calendar.

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