JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Possible good news re NY research #general

Ira Leviton

Dear Group,

Joan Parker, quoting Gary Mokotoff's "Nu? What's Nu?" wrote:

New York Law May Make Vital Records More Accessible

There is a trend in the United States and elsewhere toward limiting access
to vital records under the guise of reducing identity theft and combating
terrorism. New York Assembly Bill 7209 [my note: it is A07209] is moving
in the opposite direction. The bill would reduce the current cost to
obtain vital records for genealogical purposes by half, and for applicants
who show current membership in a genealogical society, review of vital
records will be at no charge.

A summary comment of the bill makes the statement that "the fear that has
been voiced that vital records could provide information which could lead
to identity theft is unfounded. In a recent survey of 500 victims of
identity theft, not one was due to information gleaned >from vital

Additional information can be found at

I counter with: Don't get your hopes up too quickly. Bills are often
proposed, and then languish and disappear. (And in New York, the
legislature is famous for doing almost nothing.) For example, there's
another proposed bill, A05641, which if passed would "authorize the
commissioner of health to issue copies and transcripts of death
certificates, which do not include the cause of death or medical
certifications, for genealogical and research purposes." Sounds great.
This is law in many other states already. However, instead of being voted
on, this bill has been referred to the Assembly's Health Committee, and
apparently that has happened every other year since 1999. Unfortunately,
the bill that Gary and Joan mentioned has also already been referred to
the Health Committee. Information on both bills is available on the New
York State Assembly's web site

It is also unclear to me whether either of these bills, if passed,
would apply to New York City records, or only New York State records
outside of the city. These bills would not create entirely new laws, but
amend existing laws, and the web site only includes the changes. Without
the full text, it's unclear to me if the commissioner of health cited
above refers to only the state commissioner, or includes all local
commissioners in the state.

So, we will have to sit back and wait, probably for quite a while, to
see what happens. Or you can contact me privately for more information.

Ira Leviton
New York, N.Y.

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