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Bill Changing Execution Drugs Heads to Gov (Apr 12, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Prison officials in Oklahoma would have broad authority to change the lethal drugs used to execute inmates under a bill that is heading to the governor's desk.

The Senate on Monday voted 42-3 for the bill that authorizes the Department of Corrections to use a lethal quantity of any "drug or drugs" when the state carries out the death penalty.

Existing law requires the department to use an "ultrashort acting barbiturate in combination with a paralytic agent," but prison officials say that law could pose a problem if they need to change the formula.

Sen. Anthony Sykes, who wrote the bill, said the change was needed after a recent shortage of sodium thiopental forced Oklahoma to replace one of the drugs used to execute inmates.

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