COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The names of companies providing lethal injection drugs to the state would be shielded for at least two decades under a bill that cleared the Ohio House on Thursday.
Over objections by some Democrats that the proposal goes against government openness and risks more execution-related lawsuits, the Republican-led chamber voted 61-25 in favor of it. The legislation heads next to the state Senate, with a two-year session set to end in December.
The measure requires a drugmaker to specifically ask for anonymity, rather than receive it automatically, under an agreement that would allow release of the company's name 20 years after it last provides drugs to the state.
The bill gives judges the ability to view information about a vendor after consultation with Ohio's prisons department.
State Rep. Jim Buchy, a Greenville Republican, said protecting drugmakers' names was necessary. He said the state prisons agency can't obtain the drugs to carry out the death penalty while companies' names are public.
Executions have been on hold in Ohio since death row inmate Dennis McGuire was put to death with the country's first use of a two-drug combo in January. McGuire took 26 minutes to die, repeatedly gasping and snorting. In July, the execution of an Arizona inmate using the same two drugs took two hours.
Ohio's first choice of a pharmaceutical — compounded, or specially mixed, pentobarbital — has been used successfully by Texas and Missouri, which won't reveal where their drug comes from, but Ohio has been unable to obtain it.
The state's next scheduled execution is Feb. 11, when Ronald Phillips is set to die for the 1993 killing of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter. The state must determine whether it has enough drugs 30 days beforehand.