First I want to thank everyone that had responded to the blog post last week that told of the proposed bill from the Washington State Health Department to close Washington state birth records for 100 years, and death, marriage and divorce records for 50 years. January 31st was the public hearing in the Washington State Senate Law and Justice Committee, here is the link to the bill number 5332 It also has a schedule for the next round which is the executive meeting for the committee where they can decide to amend the, kill the bill or pass it on to the full senate for a vote. The link above gives the times of the next hearing and a link to where you can watch the hearing either on TVW a on a Washington cable tv or the link to the live streaming of the hearing.
If you want to contact the members of the committee and let them know how crucial access to these records (and their indexes) are to us as genealogists, you can write them here:
Chairman: Pederson, Jamie (D) Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov
Vice chair: Dhingra, Manka (D) Manka.Dhingra@leg.wa.gov
Ranking member: Padden, Mike (R) Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov
Holy, Jeff (R) Jeff.Holy@leg.wa.gov
Kuderer, Patty (D) Patty.Kuderer@leg.wa.gov
Salomon, Jesse (D) Jesse.Salomon@leg.wa.gov
Wilson, Lynda (R) Lynda.Wilson@leg.wa.gov
Staff Coordinator: Ford, Tim firstname.lastname@example.org
The main reason the Health Department gave for locking up the records is identity theft, which has been proven does not happen from vital records being open. In the hearing five people spoke in favor of the bill since they would receive $3 more for each certified birth and death certificate they issued and all five said that they were loosing money issuing those certificates at $20 and so the extra $3 would be very welcome. Washington State Genealogical Society spoke on leaving the records open and if closed to make sure the informational copies of death certificates will have the cause of death. The health department said many people had asked that the cause of death not be shown on informational copies. The health department also said they were going to keep the indexes open and continue to send copies to the state archives to post online. Last person to testify was a lobbyist for the newspapers and he said that they usually did not use death certificates for cause of deaths that they would cover in a newspaper. If they covered a death they went right to the coroner or medical examiner for the cause of death. He also said if the cause of death was from cancer or some other hereditary disease that the cause of death should be on informational copies.
Notice not one person testifying said anything about how this proposed bill is needed to stop identity theft or how it is supposed to stop identity theft that comes from other sources.
The original blog post had 798 page views from I think every state in the United States, and 425 cities. One from Dublin Ireland and Melbourne Australia. We had 604 referrals from Facebook. On January 29th we had 313 page views on this one blog post. More than we usually get in a whole week on all our blog posts.