Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Needed review of death penalty drugs

The Florida Supreme Court was right Thursday to order the state's lethal injection practice be reviewed. Gov. Rick Scott should suspend further action on executions until the high court satisfies that Florida's procedures at least meet the minimum standards of law.

The justices' order to a lower court in Jefferson County is to review whether a substitute drug used in the state's three-drug injection cocktail is active enough to ensure the condemned is not denied the constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. It stems from the case of death row inmate and convicted murderer Paul Augustus Howell, who is scheduled to be executed Feb. 26. Howell's attorneys have charged that midazolam, the first in the three-drug protocol, will not fully anesthetize Howell, leaving him partially sedated and unable to communicate his pain from a second drug that induces suffocation.

The court order was overdue. Defense attorneys have claimed since Florida embarked on this experimental regimen last year that midazolam is a short-acting drug that could cause those not fully anesthetized the physical agony of suffocating. Florida and other states switched to the new drug after manufacturers of the barbiturate pentobarbital ceased selling it for executions. Justices also ordered the lower court to take expert testimony on charges that the state's administration of the cocktail left inadequate time for the anesthetic to take effect.

The state practices called out by the Supreme Court go to the constitutional basis of the death penalty, and short of following other states that have repealed it, Florida should at least ensure that the procedure is lawful. If the lower court needs more time beyond Wednesday's deadline to complete a full and fair review, the high court should grant it. Scott, in the meantime, should hold off action on any new death penalty cases.

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Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18