Dick Eastman’s blog caught my eye with a post about a Maine bill that might close birth and marriage records.
The bill is LD 1781, An Act To Allow Electronic Filing of Vital Records and Closing of Records To Guard against Fraud and Make Other Changes to the Vital Records Laws, was the subject of a hearing yesterday before the legislature’s Health and Human Services committee.
Sec. 12. 22 part 2706, Disclosure of Vital Records, reads “After 100 years from the date of birth for birth certificates, after 100 years from the date of death for fetal death certificates and death certificates, after 100 years from the date of marriage for marriage certificates and after 100 years from the registration of domestic partnerships, any person may obtain informational copies of these vital records in accordance with the department’s rules.”
That would effectively close records to all but immediate family or legal representatives for 100 years after they’re created, throwing a big obstacle in the way of family historians with Maine ancestors.
It’s an unnecessary obstacle. As Dick says, vital records are rarely used for fraud. Most identity theft happens when people with access to sensitive information, such as employees of financial institutions or government agencies, steal data and sell it. Stolen wallets, credit cards and mail are other sources. (Follow the links in Dick’s post for more details.)
The bill does let record custodians “permit inspection of records, or issue certified copies of certificates or records, or any parts thereof, when satisfied that the applicant therefore has a direct and legitimate interest in the matter recorded.”
But there’s no allowance for uncertified records, unofficial documents that many states issue for genealogy research.
Visit Maine’s state legislature website for legistators’ contact information.