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Oklahoma House speaker approves interim studies for everything from firing squads to cedar trees

Death penalty, cedar trees are among the topics to be studied by Oklahoma lawmakers.
by Rick Green Published: July 11, 2014

Legislators plan to examine everything from lethal injection alternatives to better monitoring of prescription drugs in interim studies approved Friday.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman approved more than 80 studies to be conducted in the interim period before the Oklahoma Legislature begins its session next year.

Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, asked for the study on requiring doctors to check an online database before writing narcotic prescriptions. This is intended to cut down on fraudulent prescriptions for highly addictive drugs.

His bill to do just that failed to gather support last legislative session amid opposition from doctors who said it would be time-consuming and take away from time they can spend with patients.

Oklahoma’s Prescription Monitoring Program requires pharmacies to log every new controlled dangerous substance prescription within five minutes of filling it.

But doctors are not required to check the registry to make sure their patients aren’t obtaining prescriptions from other physicians, a practice known as doctor shopping. And many doctors don’t bother to voluntarily check the registry.

Last year, 788 Oklahomans died from overdoses, and 593 of those deaths involved at least one prescription drug, according to a preliminary tally by the state Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.

Another study that was approved will look into alternative methods of executions.

State Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, requested the study after the botched lethal injection of Oklahoma death row inmate Clayton Lockett on April 29. Lockett died 43 minutes after the execution began after trouble developed with how the drug was being administered in a vein in his groin.

Christian said a firing squad could be a good second option to lethal injections if needed. The study also will look into whether inmates should be allowed to select a firing squad.

DNA samples

Another study that was approved would examine whether people arrested for serious crimes should be required to submit DNA samples for a law enforcement database before conviction. They now must submit such samples only after conviction.

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by Rick Green
Capitol Bureau Chief
Rick Green is the Capitol Bureau Chief of The Oklahoman. A graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., he worked as news editor for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City before joining The Oklahoman.
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