Bad News: SB 372 Passes Georgia’s Legislature

The following was written by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

On June 18, 2020, the Georgia House of Representatives passed SB 372 by a vote of 157 to 2. In March, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 52-0. Despite letters from the genealogical community to House Committee and leadership the Georgia Legislature seemed unwavering in their determination to enact a provision in their public health and modernization bill with the NAPHSIS advocated embargo periods. The bill changes the birth records embargo from 100 years to 125 years and death, marriage and divorce records from 75 years to 100 years.

To read the bill see: See: Section 5 line 140

The governor only has line item veto on budget issues: “The authority of Georgia’s governor to veto specific line item expenditures in appropriation acts, while approving the remainder of the act. An item veto can only be used for appropriations and is overridden in the same manner as an ordinary veto.”


You can still get the certificates if the person is deceased and you are a child/grand child though. The only people this affects are people not is the direct parental line.


    The “only” people this affects are the thousands of genealogists who have legitimate reasons for vital records, not prying curiosity. It also affects historians and other researchers who study the usable past. And moreover it affects people who are not in direct parental line, such as researches in African-American genealogy who want to recover information about their ancestors. There is no logical, reasonable, or ethical reason for this cash grab in the guise of protecting identity.


    Maybe, for the average cost of $33.00 per document. Death certificates that have been available online for free will now cost at least $33.00 per document. The Vital Records office is charging a “search” fee even though these records are indexed and there is no “search”.
    Also, your grandparent can apply for your record if they present a copy of a birth certificate with your name listed but you can not apply for your grandparent’s death certificate without first proving that you have a legal interest- by providing a document such as a birth certificate, or proving that the person is dead. Does that make any sense?
    This change also affects all in-depth research for genealogists, historians, academics, scholars, and many others.


Apparently they are not swayed by facts. I have not seen even one study that showed that denying access to vital records reduces identity theft – the usual justification for such laws.


Absolutely ridiculous! The State has no business keeping secrets beyond the grave. It is in the public interest that the State be as transparent as possible in vital records, because that is how the public can verify claims of relationship, cause and circumstances of death, and so forth. I believe this interest supersedes any claim individuals may have to “privacy” in keeping their own ancient family secrets from public knowledge. What exactly are these politicians afraid of?


Richard Ellington June 20, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Well, this is Georgia, known to be unaffected by progress.


Angela (Gilmore) Tulloh June 21, 2020 at 11:31 am

This is bad news, as stated above, I don’t see how this helps prevent identity theft.
Huge set back.


This is going to make things a lot more difficult in attempting to find relationships when researching for affidavits of heirship.


Sad news for sure! Are you calling your State representatives, Governors Office to voice your opinions. Obviously, it is possible to raise enough ruckus to be heard!
I keep holding my breath that the people intent on destroying the civil war history won’t destroy our forefathers graves or archives. Just the thought of what Sherman’s troops did to our historical documents could easily happen again in this destructive environment🙏🙏


It is amazing that this piece of legislation passed with virtually no opposition is almost everyone in the Georgia legislature clueless or just brain dead!


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