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The Value of Open Public Records
Records and Repositories
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MGC's NERGC Panel on Open Records: Citizens Can Make a Difference
General Legislation
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How many deaths before the SSDI gets updated again?
Legislation Federal
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Monitored Legislation 2016

Massachusetts Genealogical Council Legislation Monitoring

The full text of each bill below can be found on the Massachusetts’ Legislature website.

Check out this article in the Boston Globe detailing how the Public Records bill that passed the House is both an improvement to the current law and yet a step backward in other ways.

Bills We Support

H2821 – An Act relating to creation of a municipal records commission – Establishes a special commission to examine the status, maintenance, preservation, and storage of municipal records in the Commonwealth with support and advice from the Massachusetts Archives. Sponsored by Angelo M. Scaccia. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

H2822 – An Act relating to the public records law – Provides authority to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, supervisor of records, or any officer designated by the Secretary to investigate violations or enforce the public records laws. Sponsored by Angelo M. Scaccia. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

H3858 – An Act to improve public records – Regulates the access to public records by designating a records access official, outlining procedures to fulfill requests, and imposes penalties for failure to fulfill requests. (Previously H3665 which had previously incorporated H2772 and S1676.) Currently approved by the House and under consideration by the Senate.

**S1069 – An Act to end the stigmatization of out-of-wedlock births – Eliminates restricted access to out of wedlock birth records. Sponsored by Kenneth J. Donnelly. Currently before the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

S1144 – An Act relative to equal access to original birth certificates – Eliminates the date restriction on adoptees obtaining birth information. Sponsored by James B. Eldridge. Currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health.

**S1629 – An Act relative to records open to public inspection – Opens all records, 90 years or older, in the custody of the state secretary. Sponsored by Kenneth J. Donnelly (by request). Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

**S1630 – An Act to lower the cost of creating record copies for historical researchers – Provides a non-certified copy for genealogical purposes. Sponsored by Kenneth J. Donnelly (by request). Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

S1633 – An Act improving access to public records – Provides for the designation of records access officers by each State agency and provide access to public records. Sponsored by James B. Eldridge. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

S1700 – An Act relative to obtaining information – Provides that custodians of public records comply within 10 days and the process for pursuing claims for failure to do so. Sponsored by Kathleen O’Connor Ives. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

Bills We Will Oppose

H1942 – An Act to protect personal information – Expands current restrictions on out of wedlock, etc. births to all birth records such that a person can only seek his own record (or their attorney, guardian, parent). The provision would not apply to records before 1 January 1841. Sponsored by Kimberly N. Ferguson. Currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health.

H2036 – An Act relative to access to certain birth records – Limits access to records and returns of children born out of wedlock only where the infant was given up for adoption or the name of the father is not listed. Sponsored by Elizabeth A. Poirier. Currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health.

Bills We Are Simply Monitoring

H1051 – An Act relative to preserving Polish heritage in the Pioneer Valley – Establishes a commission to investigate the establishment of a heritage institute at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Sponsored by Peter V. Kocot. Currently before the Joint Committee on Higher Education.

H1265 – An Act relative to public records requests – Increases the fines on public officials for failure to perform their duties with respect to public records from $20 per month to $100 per month. Sponsored by Diana DiZoglio. Currently before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

H1962 – An Act relative to the vital records trust fund – Apportions money received from the payment for certified copies issued by town or city clerks and establishes the Secure Vital Registry Trust Fund to be expended by the department of public health. Sponsored by Denise C. Garlick. Currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health.

H2034 – An Act preserving date of birth from city and town records – restricts date of birth for individuals in city or town public records to only the year of birth. Sponsored by Elizabeth A. Poirier. Currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health.

H2045 – An Act granting equal access to original birth certificates to all persons born in Massachusetts – Removes the date restrictions for adopted children to obtain original birth information. Sponsored by John H. Rogers and Michael F. Rush. Currently before the Joint Committee on Public Health.

H2716 – An Act further regulating access to public records – Establishes a public records division within the office of the secretary of the commonwealth and a commission of public records. Sponsored by Antonio F. D. Cabral. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

H2717 – An Act to improve access to public records – Regulates electronic recordkeeping systems and that every state agency has a records access officer to respond to requests for access to public records. Sponsored by Antonio F. D. Cabral. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

H2755 – An Act relative to public record fines – Provides a time limit for public records custodians to comply with requests and increase fines of such officials to $100 per month. Sponsored by Bradford R. Hill. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

H2794 – An Act relative to restricted vital records – Removes restrictions on out of wedlock birth returns but leaves in place certain other restrictions. Sponsored by Michael J. Moran. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

H2807 – An Act to maintain the integrity of the public records law – Expands the application of the public records law to non-profit corporations formed by political subdivisions. Sponsored by Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

H2820 – An Act relating to technical corrections – Removes entities receiving or expending funds for state pensions from the definition of public records. Eliminates the restriction on records of those born out of wedlock. Also restricts exemption of personnel and medical files to only those of living persons. Caveat: Restricts public inspection of records to “after the expiration of seventy-five years from creation of the record.” Sponsored by Angelo M. Scaccia. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

H3862 – An Act relative to modernizing the Registries of Deeds – Requires the keeping of an entry book of registered land, in book or electronic form, by an assistant recorder. Appears to be uninteresting but Norfolk County Registrar of Deeds testified in favor of the bill which he believes would allow him to digitize deeds and then destroy the originals! (Previously H1493). Sponsored by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Currently before the House Committee on Ways and Means.

S1641 – An act amending public records law -- A minor technical restriction. Sponsored by Ryan C. Fattman. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

S1638 – An Act enhancing access to electronic public records – Regulates electronic recordkeeping systems and enhances access to public information contained therein. Sponsored by James B. Eldridge. Currently before the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

** Bills put forth by MGC.