Corrections officials have proposed a single lethal dose of any one of four painkillers.
The state has performed executions using three injections—a painkiller, a drug that stops breathing, and then one that stops the heart. In 2006, the same year as California’s last execution, a court found the method can constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation sued California last year to require the new lethal injection regulation.
"This department doesn’t have the option to carry out executions or not," says Kent Scheidegger, the foundation's legal director. "It has the duty to make itself capable of doing so, and yet they just sat on it."
It could be at least a year before the new rules are finalized, with legal challenges expected.
Voters may speak before then. Opponents and supporters of the death penalty are proposing competing ballot initiatives.