BILL WOULD PROTECT IDENTITIES OF EXECUTION DRUG SUPPLIERS
(AUSTIN) — Pharmacies that supply the state with the drug compound used to carry out lethal injections would be protected from certain inquiries under a bill that passed the Senate Monday. Senator Joan Huffman of Southside Place said that entities that supply the drugs necessary to carry out state law are becoming harder to come by, and that intimidation of suppliers is not helping the situation. She pointed to DPS investigations of incidents where employees at pharmacies that supply execution drugs were subject to harassment from death penalty opponents. "I think it had a chilling effect on reputable pharmacies wanting to provide these compounds to the state of Texas and it's been very difficult for the state to procure these compounds," said Huffman.
Her bill, SB 1697, would exempt entities that supply execution drug compounds, as well as anyone involved in transporting, procuring or administering such drugs, from Texas Public Information Act requests. The exemption would not be granted automatically; rather, the requested information must be first submitted to the Office of Attorney General to ensure it meets this exception.
Also Monday, the Senate approved a bill that would move vocational rehabilitation services from the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services to a new agency. As part of its Sunset bill, SB 208 by New Braunfels Senator Donna Campbell, the Texas Workforce Commission would take over job training for individuals with disabilities from DARS. TWC would oversee programs to help people with mental and physical disabilities find and keep gainful employment. In contrast to concerns raised by the Sunset review of state health and human services agencies, the Texas Workforce Commission showed competence and good management according to Sunset Commission Chair Senator Jane Nelson. "I truly believe that this program can have great success at the TWC," Nelson said in support of the bill.
Another bill passed by the Senate on Monday would let homeschooled students participate in UIL competitions. SB 2046 by Plano Senator Van Taylor would let homeschoolers try out, audition or compete for positions at their local high school as long as they meet eligibility requirements. Students would have to meet the same academic standards as their public school peers, demonstrated through proficiency on standardized tests.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 12 at 11 a.m.