Recent Blog Posts
MGC Blog Tag Cloud
SUPPORT MGC Today!
Keeping Watch Over Massachusetts Public Records
Massachusetts Bills of Interest to Genealogists Filed in the 2013-2014 Legislative Session
MGC Civil Records Co-Director Mary Ellen Grogan is our watchdog for bills in the Massachusetts legislature on Beacon Hill. She summarizes the situation here.
The Massachusetts Genealogical Council monitors legislative and administrative activities of governmental agencies which affect genealogists and family history researchers. We sponsor and support legislation designed to expand the resources and accessibility of research services; and, where appropriate, we oppose laws and regulations which limit or close access to records.
In the last ten years, significant efforts have been made on both state and federal levels to close records that have been traditionally used by genealogists. The impetus behind these efforts is not completely clear, but arguments center on issues of privacy. In most cases, closure of records to genealogists is not the result of actual legislation but of local regulations and the interpretation of these issues by records custodians. HIPAA, the Patriot Act, and identity theft have all been cited as requiring record closures. It is vital to genealogists that they actively work to prevent further closure of records by educating legislators and custodians on the needs of citizens, and working with these leaders proactively. It is to the benefit of legislators, record custodians and genealogists that we work together on these issues.
Who Are My Elected Officials?: http://www.wheredoivotema.com
Identifies Massachusetts elected officials, and gives their contact information
Lawmaking in Massachusetts: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/trs/trslaw/lawidx3.htm
A very detailed description of the legislative process in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts General Court: http://www.malegislature.gov
This site gives access to a search engine (by individual word and number) of current law and proposed bills.
Massachusetts Genealogical Council: http://www.massgencouncil.com
Provides information on national and state issues of interest to genealogists
BILLS FILED IN THE CURRENT SESSION THAT WE ARE MONITORING
Subject: Vital Records
S1474, Sen. Donnelly, An Act providing non-certified copies of record. Filed at the request of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council, this bill would permit non-certified copies of vital records.
H1948, Rep. Ferguson, An Act to Protect Personal Information. Closes access to all birth records except to certain designated people; no time limit is placed on the closure.
H2034, Rep. Miceli, An Act Relative to Birth Records, also filed in last session, opposed by the Massachusetts Genealogical Council. Will close access to birth records except for certain categories of requestors; no time limit on the closure.
H2038, Rep. Murphy, An Act relative to proper identification when requesting copies of birth certificates
H2052, Rep. Poirier, An Act preserving dates of birth from city and town records
H2054, Rep. Poirer, An Act relative to access to certain birth records
Subject: Open Records/Public Records
S727, Sen. Eldridge, An Act defining certain administrative records as public records
S1459, Sen. Brownberger, An Act expanding the definition of public records to include subordinate entities of public entities
S1473, Sen. Donnelly, An Act relative to records open to public inspection. Filed at the request of the Massachusetts Genealogical Council, this bill clarifies that all records in the custody of the Secretary of State (i.e., State Archives) which are more than 90 years old are considered public records and are open to the public and opens other records.
Section 7 of Chapter 66 of the General Laws, is hereby amended by adding the following sentence: “All records in the custody of the state secretary which are ninety years or older shall be open to public inspection.” Section 2A of Chapter 46 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out, in the first sentence, the words “children born out of wedlock or ”and “or those of persons born out of wedlock”. Subsection 26c of Section 7 of chapter 4 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after the word "information” the following words: of living people; and by inserting after the word “named” the following word: living.
S1480, Sen. Eldridge, An Act enhancing access to electronic public records
S1481, Sen. Eldridge, An Act improving access to public records
S1519, Sen. Moore, An Act to promote the timely release of public records
S1520, Sen. Ives, An Act relative to obtaining information
H1235, Rep. Cabral, An Act defining court administrative records as public records
H1294, Rep. DiZoglio, An Act relative to public records requests
H1603, Rep Scaccia, An Act relative to the supervision of public records
H2782, Rep. Cabral, An Act to enhance access to electronic public records
H2787, Rep. Cabral, An Act further regulating access to public records
H2819, Reps. Hill and Jones, An Act relative to public records fines
H2846, Rep. Kocot, An Act to improve access to public records