State lawmakers debate whether the source of the lethal injection drugs needed to carry out executions should be kept secret, without reaching a conclusion.
Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell, sponsor of Legislative Bill 661, argues there is no real reason to know who supplies the drugs. His bill would keep that person or company secret in the same manner that members of the execution team are kept secret.
“These are the choices we make and I will say it again, and again, and again, when you cast your vote, what is the value of the name?” Kuehn asks colleagues during legislative floor debate.
Yet, Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha accuses Kuehn of working to deprive the public of information it has a right to know.
“This bill that Sen. Kuehn brought is designed to deprive the public of information it ought to have about how its government is carrying out the most solemn, the most consequential act that a government can perform,” Chambers tells colleagues.
Chambers succeeded in 2015 in leading the Unicameral to repeal the death penalty, even after Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed the measure. An initiative petition drive, funded largely by Ricketts, succeeded in placing capital punishment on the ballot. Nebraska votes overwhelmingly overrode the legislature and reinstated the death penalty.
Legislators have concluded three hours of debate on LB 661 without taking a vote on the measure. Kuehn needs to convince the Speaker of the Legislature he has the 33 votes necessary to end debate and go to a vote on the measure before it will be allowed to return for more debate.
There are 10 inmates on Nebraska’s death row. The state has not carried out an execution since 1997.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]