I wrote a brief article on March 3 about a proposed effort to restrict public access to birth and marriage records in the State of Maine. Amongst other restrictions, anyone wishing to view the birth and marriage records would need to first pay $50 per year for a researcher identification card.
Helen Shaw has written an update to the situation:
A bill recently passed out of the Health and Human Services Committee of the Maine legislature which would close vital records and divorce records in Maine for 100 years after the event. 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.
A public hearing was held on the bill on March 3rd, but the genealogy community in Maine was not aware of the bill or of the public hearing so no one was at the hearing to protest. Since then, Pam Eagleson and I have been working to amend the bill so that genealogists are included in the bill as persons with "a direct and legitimate interest in the matter recorded."
While input on problems with the bill was sought by the legal analyst preparing an amendment to the bill, that input was not included in the amendment which was made available to us March 18 (after it had been voted on by the HHS Committee). That amendment made the bill even worse.
At this time, the only option is to have the bill amended on the house floor or killed there.
I do not know when this might come to the house floor for a vote. I have a call in to my state senator for his advice. It may be that we will need/want to address the party caucuses early next week.
Please also let folks know we still need them to contact their legislators about LD 1781 and the proposed amendments, though they should put the letter in their own words.
Thank you for your help and support.
Helen Shaw, CGsm