Sunday, October 2, 2011

Updated IAJGS Legislative Alert Posted: Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maine

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

An updated IAJGS Legislative Alert is posted to the IAJGS website: www.iajgs.org. Hover your mouse over the left hand button that says "legislation" and on the drop-down box click on "Latest Alert".

There are three very important updates on issues, two of which you may wish to comment on: Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Virginia: Joint Commission on Health Care Report on SB 865
The Virginia legislature is considering changes to Virginia's laws on access to vital records, which could either expand - or severely limit - research access to birth, marriage, and death records. Currently, birth records held by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) are closed for 100 years, with marriage and death records closed for 50 years. After these time periods, the records are supposed to be turned over to the Library of Virginia (LVA). Virginia Senator Harry Blevins introduced SB 865 in the 2011 Virginia General Assembly to improve access to records, which was referred to the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC) for study. A JCHC staff study proposes restrictions, not liberalizing, access by lengthening the closed VDH period to 125 years for births and 75 years for marriages and deaths. Comments on the JCHC are due by October 6. Information is contained in the Legislative Alert.

Pennsylvania SB 361
This bill would make birth records (after 100 years) and death records (after 50 years) open records to be maintained by the Pennsylvania State Archives. The bill is on the Senate floor for a vote as early as the week of September 26. More information on this positive bill to open records is included in the Legislative Alert.

Maine-- Researcher Card
I recently posted that the Maine Rule Making Coordinators stated that they would accept a letter on genealogy society letterhead to use as attesting to the person requesting a researcher card is a genealogist. I have since heard from the Maine Rule Making Coordinator that they are creating a policy on how and who will be added to the current listing of genealogical societies. A list of current IAJGS member societies has been submitted to the rule making authority. When we learn of their policy on how and who will be added to their list, it will be posted on this listserve.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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