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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at

Bill To Hide Lethal Drug Suppliers Passes Hurdle

Kealey Bultena

Lawmakers in Pierre are wrangling over open records around death penalty.  Senate Bill 36seeks to increase the fines and jail time for anyone who discloses the manufacturer of the drugs used in lethal injection in South Dakota.

Proponents say the bill is needed to protect the identity of pharmacists and drug manufactures who make and provide drugs like sodium thiopental.

Opponents of the bill say it attempts to hide the manufactures of the drugs used in lethal injection. Tiffany Campbell with the ACLU argues that this bill flies in the face of South Dakota’s open record laws. 

“Regardless of where one stands on the death penalty, imposing and carrying out the death penalty is one of if not the most awesome powers of the state.  Because of that it is critical that we insure the government does it correctly.  And, the only way to do that is for more and not less transparency,” says Campbell. 

Campbell says South Dakota is one of very few states that hide this kind of information.    But those in favor of the measure say it’s essential to insure the state can perform the death penalty.    They charge that opponents of the death penalty are making efforts to cut off the supply of drugs needed.  

Representative Don Kopp of Rapid City voted for the measure saying that if South Dakota used hanging as capital punishment there would be no need to know who manufactured the rope.   

The bill cleared the Senate and passed out of the House Judiciary committee by a vote of nine- to three.   It goes next to the full House.