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Access to Vital Records Is Under Attack! How Can You Help? 8 May 2014 Richmond, VA Greater Richmond Convention Center Room B15B 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Access to Vital Records Is Under Attack! How Can You Help? 8 May 2014 Richmond, VA Greater Richmond Convention Center Room B15B 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Access to Vital Records Is Under Attack! How Can You Help? 8 May 2014 Richmond, VA Greater Richmond Convention Center Room B15B 1

2 Agenda Jan Alpert, RPAC Chair About RPAC Three Year Restriction to SSDI Certification of Forensic Genealogists Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Pubic Records Access Monitoring Committee 2011 Revision Model Vital Statistics Act 2014 Examples of State Vital Records Legislation Fred Moss, Counsel for FGS Continuing Efforts with the Department of Commerce Know Your Legislators Congressional Recess: Make Your Voice Heard Q & A 2

3 About RPAC Joint Committee of FGS, NGS, and IAJGS Participating organizations: APG, ASG, BCG, and ICAPGen. Other participants: Ancestry & ProQuest State Liaisons (31 of the 50 states currently represented) 3

4 Records Preservation & Access Committee Participants Jan Alpert, Chair (SC) Josh Taylor, FGS (CA) Fred Moss, FGS (TX) David Rencher, FGS (UT) Curt Witcher, FGS (IN) Linda McCleary, FGS (AZ) Joy Reisinger, FGS (WI) Barbara Mathews, BCG (MA) Roger D. Joslyn, ASG (NY) Linda Gulbrandsen, ICAPGEN (UT) Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS (CA) Ken Ryesky, IAJGS (NY) Jordan Jones, NGS, (NC) Donn Devine, NGS (DE) Darrell Jackson, NGS (MO) Kelvin Meyers, APG (TX) Alvie Davidson, APG (FL) Lou Szucs, Ancestry (IL) Bill Forsyth, ProQuest (MI) 4

5 RPAC Mission Advocate open access to vital records Support strong preservation policies & practices Advise community about federal, state, and sometimes local regulations and legislation Coordinate genealogical community response 5

6 How RPAC Works Meetings—FGS & NGS Conferences Monthly evening conference call—First Thursday each month Presentations 2013 at NGS, IAJGS & FGS RPAC Blog at RPAC email list State Liaisons conference calls and mailing list 6

7 RPAC Blog 7

8 RPAC Blog 8 Copies available RPAC Booth # 105

9 RPAC Blog 9

10 How We Hear About Threats Members of RPAC committee Participating organizations in RPAC State Liaisons Genealogy Blogs 10

11 How RPAC Responds to Threats RPAC supports and assists local genealogy groups and state liaisons Monitors bills as the legislation progresses Communicates threats and bill status Prepares written statements for key committee hearings Posts sample letters to legislators Talking Points for visits with your legislators 11

12 State Liaisons—How Selected Normally by state umbrella society Looking for volunteers interested in the political process Who possibly worked in government affairs, state, or local government If interested see me after this presentation 12

13 State Liaison Responsibilities with Support from RPAC Monitor state legislative & regulatory activity Timely alert to RPAC Primary link between state genealogical community & RPAC Build a communications network across the state for a consistent response Compile state specific data on access and retention of vital records for RPAC website. 13

14 Elizabeth Wells (AL) Connie Bradbury (AK) Linda McCleary (AZ) Jan Davenport (AR) Peggy Rossi (CA) David Coward (CO) Robert Rafford (CT) Donn Devine (DE) Frank Laurent (FL) Elizabeth Olson (GA) Jeanie Lowe (IL) Curt Witcher (IN) Cynthia Hofmeister (LA) Barbara Mathews (MA) Helen Shaw (ME) Cynthia Grostick (MI) Nancy Waller Thomas (MO) 14 State Liaison Roster

15 Bernice Schroer (NV) Joan Lowry (NJ) Derek Davey (OH) Billie Fogarty (OK) Leslie Lawson (OR) James Beidler (PA) John Andrews, Jr. (SC) Carla Maitland (TN) Teri Flack (TX) Linda Gulbrandsen (UT) John Leppman (VT) Barbara Vines Little (VA) Eric Stroschein (WA) Pam Anderson (WI) State Liaisons in the room please stand 15

16 Liaisons Needed Hawaii Idaho Iowa Kansas Kentucky Maryland Minnesota Mississippi Montana Nebraska New Hampshire New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Rhode Island South Dakota West Virginia Wyoming 16

17 Current Threats to Vital Records Access Closure of the SSDI record for three years from person’s death. Model State Vital Statistics Act 17

18 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act Passed both houses in December with no amendments Signed by the President 26 December 2013 Death Master File/SSDI closed for 3 years beginning 26 March 2014 Must be certified by the Department of Commerce to access the DMF/SSDI during the three year embargo period 18

19 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act Hearing on 4 March 2014. Fred Moss, counsel for FGS testified 111 participated in person or via webcast Statements to Commerce 18 March 2014 RPAC, IAJGS, FamilySearch, CAFG, and a handful of genealogists filed statements. Statements also filed by insurance companies, industry associations, banks or credit services, pensions funds, and various service providers 19

20 2013 Bipartisan Budget Act Statements requested certification for forensic genealogists: Locating heirs for Dept. of Defense for repatriation of war remains Identification of unclaimed persons for coroners Locating missing heirs for probate and others Tracing and tracking heritable medical conditions Repatriation of stolen art and artifacts Determining eligibility for tribal benefits 20

21 Certification of Genealogists Two forensic genealogists certified in April Many have not applied because: Cost of certification $200 Cost to access the data $995 per year minimum Limited data fields Audit and security requirements $1,000 fine if SSDI information disclosed to anyone uncertified 21

22 Certification of Genealogists Limited Data Fields First name, last name, date of birth, date of death, Social Security Number Missing are: middle initial or middle name state of issue and where last payment was sent Important for genealogists to differentiate individuals with the same name 22

23 Certification of Genealogists More Important — these fields may be missing from all future Social Security Admin. Data, even the recent data before the 3 year embargo Fred Moss will provide the latest updates later in this presentation 23

24 Jan Meisels Allen Member, RPAC Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee President, Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (JGSCV) 24

25 Genealogists without records can’t do genealogy! We are facing crises worldwide on access to vital records Due to misunderstanding by those in power about Identity Theft 25

26 Working group reported revision May 2011 Restricts access to birth records for 125 years Restricts access to marriage or divorce records for 100 years Restricts access to death records for 75 years Restricts access to indices until the embargo dates Requires confidentiality restrictions on indices as well as records April 2012 Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) put Model Act “on hold” January 2013 HHS promulgates final regulation on privacy and permits medical information on deceased to be released after 50 years less than revision act of 75 years 26 2011 Revision Model State Vital Statistics Act

27 Regulations are a way for state regulators to require actions that are not in state law and to “reinterpret” state laws NAPHSIS 2013 conference said since they did not do well in legislatures in 2014 they will start enacting Model Vital Records Act by regulation. We are already seeing movement on privacy language for Maine Vital Records proposed regulations following Model Act 27 Remember to Watch For Regulations Too

28 How can you help? 28

29 Find out when your state’s legislature begins and ends. Many start in January- but the end dates vary- some go year ‘round See: s/Sessions.aspx?h=&year=2014 Identify your representatives, their contact information, and make your selves known to them 29 Things to Do Now

30 Invite your local legislators to a Society meeting Send all your legislators-federal, state, local your blog/newsletter—remember you and your society members are their constituents Stop into their local offices and get to know them and their staffs 30 What You and Your Society Can Do

31 Birth record Birth certificate Death record Death certificate Divorce record Marriage record Marriage certificate Still birth record Domestic partnership record-certificate 31 Key Words to Look For In New Legislation

32 Vital records Public records State archives Model State Vital Statistics Act Vital statistics Social Security Number State registrar Disclosure of records Name of your state’s vital records regulatory agency 32 Key Words Continued

33 Tool Kit For State Liaisons See: Interview on Records Access 33

34 See slides on the RPAC Blog currently third from last bullet See slides #25-30; 34-38 Terminology How a bill becomes a law 34 State Liaison Meeting 20 Nov. 2013

35 Each Country and State Is Different You need to know how your country or state writes legislation How a bill becomes a law 35

36 How To Find Your State’s ? “How A Bill Becomes A Law” Google it! 36

37 Virginia 35

38 38 Every step on the “How A Bill Becomes A Law” is an opportunity to shape the outcome…from the day it is introduced, the hearings, going to the floor of the legislature, to the desk. Take the necessary steps at each opportunity!

39 Who do you write? Committee Chairperson Committee Members Author of the Bill (may or may not be a member of the committee) If the bill has passed? Write the Governor or President who will be asked to sign the bill 39 Write a Letter to the Committee(s) Which Will Hear the Bill

40 Go to click on Legislation Then on Legislative Websites US State Legislative websites US Congress 40 How To Find Out Where To Write

41 41

42 42

43 43

44 North Carolina Legislature Page 44

45 All politics are local! Each Liaison and your society board member and others in your society should get to know: Your local State Representative Your local State Senator Your Federal Congressperson Your US Senators And their staffs! 45 Get To Know Your Local Representatives

46 You need to know what is going on Read online the capitol’s newspaper and key political columnist Keep in touch with other genealogy societies to know what they are doing Post updates on your society website/blog/newsletter 46 Keep Informed

47 Sacramento Bee-Capital Alert 47 Examples of Key Political Columns Politics

48 Texas (2013) Letter writing campaign by Texas genealogists made a difference Died in committee Oregon Passed (2013) with no change in embargo periods Limited access to the indices Maine Law changed 2010. Researcher card to provide access to genealogists 2014 pending regulations incorporate some Model Act provisions (to make the indices private) and access to hands on records by genealogists 48 Recent Vital Records Legislation

49 Recent Vital Records Legislation Cont’d Oklahoma Legislation enacting Model Records Act embargos for Birth (125 years) and Death records (75 years) signed by Governor 1 May 2014. Pending Legislation merging OK Historical Society with Dept of Tourism, History and Cultural Affairs California Proposition 42 on access to public records on June primary ballot 49

50 How is RPAC Responding? Genealogists Declaration of Rights Idea from Robert Rafford, CT State Liaison Positive statement for Open Records A chance for you to join in and support RPAC Booth #105, Sign the Declaration Will be used for state and federal issues Genealogists need access to Public Records 50

51 Genealogists Declaration of Rights 51

52 Fred Moss, JD, LL.M. Counsel for FGS RPAC Blogger Grandfather of famous author, Evan Moss, who published his first book at age 7. 52

53 Federal Legislation Jan Allen just provided a review of state legislation and how to contact your state representatives to protect your access to State Vital Records My presentation will review how to contact your US Representatives and Senators about access to Federal records such as the Social Security Death Index 53

54 Update on SSDI Section 203, Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 Congress gave Commerce the job of implementing the certification program SSDI is under the National Technical Information Services of the Dept. of Commerce NTIS understands the DMF NTIS is the first agency to allow genealogists to testify 54

55 dmf.aspx 55

56 What is Needed NOW ? We need you to deliver a message to your elected representatives Do you know who they are? Do they know you? Call on your state and federal legislators Office Visits during Congressional Recesses August and holidays We also recommend joint calls between President of State Genealogical Society and APG Chapter President 56

57 US Senate: 57

58 US House of Representatives: 58

59 59 Congressional Schedules 113 th Congress, 2 nd Session

60 60 Congressional Schedule 2014

61 61 Congressional Schedule 2014

62 The 2011 DMF/SSDI Paradigm Access to DMF major source of SSNs in fraudulent tax returns SSNs of deceased need same safeguards as living Simple fix – Limit access to DMF/SSDI Unstated Assumption—Nothing lost by closure 62

63 What Has Changed Vulnerability of IRS online refund process recognized IRS Filters in place? In December 2011 Genealogical sites began to mask the SSNs of recently deceased persons Treasury IG for Tax Administration Report – Tax Fraud misusing deceased SSNs < 2% 63

64 Our Message Genealogists REALLY concerned about ID Theft Serious Crime As community, become concerned when first/only response is to close records Section 203, BBA of 2013 only impacts <2% already addressed by IRS Filters & Genealogical sites – real impact only on legitimate users Better solutions available Doesn’t belong in permanent law – sunset? 64

65 Genealogy Not Just a Hobby DoD – “No one left behind” Unclaimed Persons Forensic genealogy – probate, minerals, land... Tracing heritable medical conditions Repatriating stolen art Identifying American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians for tribal benefits 65

66 Role of RPAC Place at the table Encourage staff to contact us at Would like for genealogists (and RPAC) to be considered as a RESOURCE not as a mere constituency to be placated (or safely ignored!) 66

67 RPAC Blog Posts These slides are posted on the RPAC Blog at Statements sent to Congressional Committees and the Department of Commerce about why genealogists need access to the SSDI Copies of letters to state legislators and/or Governors on the 2011 Model Vital Statistics Act 67

68 Contact RPAC Watch the RPAC Blog for Contact RPAC at We can help! We need to know early and stay informed throughout the legislative process 68

69 Questions? 69

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