While there is continued reason for genealogists and others to be concerned about bills sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tx) and others which will close Social Security records (see my previous article on this topic at https://www.area-info.net/articles/show.php?cty=Washington&st=District%20Of%20Columbia&article_id=820&t=Legislation_To_Close_Social_Security_Access_-_Need_To_Act)
I would like to share with you the following email I received earlier today from Delegate Christopher Peace representing Hanover County in the Virginia General Assemby in reply to my message to the members of the Committee on Health, Welfare & Institutions urging their support for Senate Bill 660.
Dear Mr. Pollock,
Thank you for your e-mail. Pertaining to access to vital records, I patroned HB 272, a measure to reduce the time period after which death, marriage, divorce, or annulment records become public from 50 years to 25 years. My bill passed both Chambers unanimously. This bill reported from the House HWI committee by a vote of 21-1, I voted in favor. Please contact Del. Joe Morrissey at DelJMorrissey@house.virginia.gov to share your thoughts. He was the lone dissenting vote.
I am honored to serve as the Delegate from the 97th District.
Delegate Christopher K. Peace
97th House District
As a bit of further explanation. Del. Peace’s House Bill 272 was substituted in the House Committee of Health, Welfare & Institutions for Senate Bill 660.
As a result of the passage of House Bill 272 (only the Governor’s signature remains for this bill to become law and the Governor has said he will sign it), not only will the years that death certificates are restricted to only immediate family members be reduced from the current 50 to 25, but:
1)the same “restriction” will apply to marriages, divorces and annulments;
2)who is defined as “immediate family member” is amended to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren for purposes of deaths and grandparents for purposes of births; and
3)an index to these records, as well as births, is to be made available on-line (target date is 1 July 2014) and not just include births, but also those years which are still closed for all types of vital records.
While there may some who will argue that this means that there is less reason for concern about the possible closure of Social Security records by Congress, at least for Virginians, there will still be reason for residents of Virginia to seek access to Social Security records for persons who died elsewhere.
Please join me specifically in contacting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (who not only represents VIRGINIA’s 7th Congressional District, but that district includes the 97TH DISTRICT represented by Del. Peace) to urge him to follow the example of Del. Peace in pushing for less restrictions on vital records rather than more.
You can contact Rep. Cantor using the following link: www.majorityleader.gov/contact/contact.html and complete the form that will load to your browser.
You may wish to use or revise the message I have sent to Rep. Cantor. Though there is perhaps a presumption by Rep. Cantor that any messages received the aforesaid address will come only from residents of Virginia 7, as I am, the fact that it specifically incorporates “Majority Leader” indicates that it is open to messages from anyone in the United States.
To Rep. Eric Cantor
I would like to urge you to oppose any effort by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tx) and others to close the Social Security Master Death index, recognizing that many of the arguments offered in support of such legislation, if accepted as accurate, would warrant passage of identical restrictions on death records in the several states.
However, the Virginia General Assembly has passed Del. Chris Peace’s House Bill 272, which specifically loosens restrictions on Virginia death records, not just by substantially wider margins than the Republicans enjoy in either house, but also with the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions reporting it out by a 21-1 margin, Del. Joe Morrissey the only “no”.
As an advocate of smaller government, surely you would not argue that different standards should be applied to death records at the federal and state levels, or that there is a higher degree of either “intelligence” or concern for the citizenry at the federal than the state level?
Please speak out to keep the Social Security Master Death Index open for the many legitimate reasons it is used, among them genealogical research, medical research & prevention of fraud, and to use the power of your office as House Majority Leader to urge others to join you in the same.