(USA) Connecticut Bills Will Affect Access To Death Records #general

Jan Meisels Allen

Following the massacre at Newtown, CT late last year there were many
out-of-state press requests for the death records of the children that were
murdered. The town clerk was incensed by this and was successful in getting
bills introduced that would limit access to death records of minors under
age 18 and another for all death records for 100 years. Until now, the
Connecticut genealogical community did not want out of towners to get
involved as the out of towners were the cause of the concern resulting
in the legislation. We have been advised that the Connecticut genealogical
community would like assistance now. The two bills were passed out of their
respective committees both were substitute bills therefore different bill
numbers than previously known.

Under Connecticuts current statute there is a 100-year waiting period only
for births and fetal deaths-other vital records (marriages and deaths) do
not have a waiting period and anyone may access those records. The bills
under consideration would establish a waiting period for death records.
Connecticut has had a provision on the books for a number of years: Section
7-51a of the general statutes that members of a Connecticut genealogical
society do not have to wait the embargo period for birth or fetal death
records. Both of the current bills amend and or replace Section 7-51a.

When reading the bills: the writing in red in brackets is deleted and the
writing in blue is the new language >from the most recent version of the

HB 5733 http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/FC/2013HB-05733-R000585-FC.htm would
close all death records to everyone for 100 years >from date of issuance
(note not date of death)it appears that the existing genealogical exception
may still be valid. However, It also provides for a summary death record
for those death records under 100 years since date of request the town
registrar may provide only: name, gender, date of death of the decedent,
cause of death and the town in which the death occurred and such person
shall not have access to any other information contained in the death
certificate. The exceptions for this summary death record do not appear to
exempt genealogists >from receiving the summary. If passed out of Committee
on Public Health on a vote of 21-7. There are very few exceptions for those
who would have access.

HB 5421 http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/FC/2013HB-05421-R000622-FC.htm would
close the death records of all minors under the age of 18 for six-months
after a death. It would block genealogists access to these records, so no
one except the immediate family, agency officials and funeral directors
would be able to see the full record for six months. It passed out of
Committee on Government Administration and Elections 14-0.

The bills have to be voted upon on the floor of the House. If they pass the
House floor they still have to be heard by the Senate.

If passed by both chambers and signed by the governor they would become
effective October 1, 2013. As they are in conflict, only one bill will
eventually pass if they get through the process. A 100-year embargo on death
records makes it very difficult to do genealogical research. If you would
like to contact the House leadership and let them know your thoughts about
these bills, they may be contacted at:

Speaker of the House, Rep. Brendan Sharkey (D) (88th Assembly District,
Hamden) at J.Brendan.Sharkey@cga.ct.gov
Majority Leader, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D) (30th Assembly District, Berlin,
Southington) at Joe.Aresimowicz@cga.ct.gov
Minority Leader, Rep. Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. (R) (142nd Assembly District,
Norwalk, New Canaan) at Lawrence.Cafero@housegop.ct.gov

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

MODERATOR NOTE: This message is intended to provide information to the genealogical
community about bills which affect genealogical research. It is not intended to
begin a discussion thread.

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