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House Bill 658 — Execution, confidentiality

House Bill 658 — Execution, confidentiality

by
Parrish Miller
February 21, 2022
Parrish Miller
February 21, 2022

Bill Description: House Bill 658 would conceal the identities of individuals and companies involved in executions and prevent licensing boards from disciplining licensees involved in executions. 

Rating: -1

Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?

House Bill 658 amends sections 19-2716A and 74-105, Idaho Code, to add provisions to conceal the identities of individuals and companies involved in executions.

It says the identities of the "on-site physician and any member of the escort team or medical team" "shall not be subject to disclosure, and shall not be admissible as evidence or discoverable in any proceeding before any court, tribunal, board, agency, or person."

In addition to being a general limitation on government transparency, it is particularly concerning that these identities would be concealed and "not admissible as evidence," even in a criminal or civil case. A mishandled execution could raise a variety of legal and constitutional issues, yet vital participants and witnesses would not be identifiable or available to testify. 

(-1)

The bill also shields the identities of "any person or entity who compounds, synthesizes, tests, sells, supplies, manufactures, stores, transports, procures, dispenses, or prescribes the chemicals or substances for use in an execution or that provides the medical supplies or medical equipment for the execution process."

As in the above section, these identities are not "subject to disclosure, and shall not be admissible as evidence or discoverable in any proceeding before any court, tribunal, board, agency, or person."

Similar concerns exist for this provision. If a lethal drug were compounded incorrectly — even if done intentionally or due to gross negligence — the text of this statute would still provide absolute anonymity for the individuals and pharmaceutical companies involved. 

Additionally, the public should always be able to scrutinize with whom the government elects to do business. Is the state doing business with a special interest? A politically connected vendor? A hostile foreign government with a history of abuses against its people? This bill, if enacted, would forever shield such information from public review.

(-1) 

Does it increase barriers to entry into the market? Examples include occupational licensure, the minimum wage, and restrictions on home businesses. Conversely, does it remove barriers to entry into the market?

An additional provisions of House Bill 658 says, "If any person who participates or performs ancillary functions in an execution is licensed by a board, the licensing board shall not suspend or revoke the person's license, or take disciplinary action against the person, because of the person's participation in an execution."

Regardless of one's beliefs about the legality and morality of executions, it is not a matter that should be determined by a licensing authority. Licensees should not face retaliation from a government entity for their participation in what is, at least at present, a legally sanctioned act. 

(+1)

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