RPAC State Liaison Conference Call. http://fgs.org/rpac 28 January 2014. Agenda. Jan Alpert, RPAC Chair (10 min.) RPAC Overview Responsibilities of State Liaisons Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS Public Records Monitoring Committee (20 min.) Model State Vital Statistics Act
RPAC State Liaison Conference Call http://fgs.org/rpac 28 January 2014
Agenda Jan Alpert, RPAC Chair (10 min.) RPAC Overview Responsibilities of State Liaisons Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS Public Records Monitoring Committee (20 min.) Model State Vital Statistics Act How a Bill Becomes a Law—See Slides 12 Nov 2013 Examples from 2013, State Liaisons Teri Flack—Texas [killed in committee] (10 min.) Helen Shaw—Maine [legislation through regulation] (10 min.) Jan Alpert, Chair (5 min.) Response to 2013 Bipartisan Budget Bill closure of SSDI for three years Fred Moss, Counsel for FGS (15 min.) What’s on the RPAC Blog www.fgs.org/RPAC Visit Your State and US Legislators, Sample Letters and Talking Points Q & A
About RPAC Joint Committee of FGS, NGS, and IAJGS Participating organizations: APG, ASG, BCG, and ICAPGen. Other participants: Ancestry & ProQuest State Liaisons (32 of the 50 states currently represented)
Records Preservation & Access Committee Organizations and their Representatives Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS (CA) Ken Ryesky, IAJGS (NY) Jordan Jones, NGS, (NC) Donn Devine, NGS (DE) Darrell Jackson, NGS (MI) Kelvin Meyers, APG (TX) Lou Szucs, Ancestry (IL) Bill Forsyth, ProQuest (UT) Jan Alpert, Chair (SC) Josh Taylor, FGS (MA) Fred Moss, FGS (TX) David Rencher, FGS (UT) Curt Witcher, FGS (IN) Linda McCleary, FGS (AZ) Barbara Mathews, BCG (MA) Roger D. Joslyn, ASG (NY) Linda Gulbrandsen, ICAPGEN (UT)
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
How RPAC Works Monthly evening conference call—First Thursday each month Presentations 2013 at NGS, IAJGS & FGS Some of the State Liaisons have attended RPAC Blog at http://www.FGS.org/rpac RPAC email list State Liaisons mailing list and Blog
How We Hear About Threats Members of RPAC committee Participating organizations in RPAC State Liaisons Genealogy Blogs
How RPAC Responds to Threats RPAC supports and assists state 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
State Liaisons—How Selected Usually by state umbrella society Looking for volunteers interested in the political process Who possibly worked in government affairs, state or local government
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.
State Liaison Roster Elizabeth Olson (GA) Jeanie Lowe (IL) Curt Witcher (IN) Cynthia Hofmeister (LA) Helen Shaw (ME) Barbara Mathews (MA) Cynthia Grostick (MI) Nancy Waller Thomas (MO) Terry Atwood (MT) Elizabeth Wells (AL) Connie Bradbury (AK) Linda McCleary (AZ) Jan Davenport (AR) Peggy Rossi (CA) David Coward (CO) Robert Rafford (CT) Donn Devine (DE) John Laurent (FL)
State Liaison Roster John Andrews, Jr. (SC) Teri Flack (TX) Linda Gulbrandsen (UT) John Leppman (VT) Barbara Vines Little (VA) Eric Stroschein (WA) Pam Anderson (WI) Robbi Ryan (NE) Bernice Schroer (NV) Joan Lowry (NJ) Derek Davey (OH) Billie Fogarty (OK) Leslie Lawson (OR) James Beidler (PA)
Jan Meisels Allen Member, RPAC Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee President, Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (JGSCV) firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Budget Cuts
Model State Vital Statistics Act Enacted in 1992. Many western states have followed Model Act Restricts access to birth records for 100 years Restricts access to marriage, divorce, & death for 50 years In 2009 working group began revisions Genealogical community was not asked to testify or submit statements on the 2011 draft.
2011 RevisionModel State Vital Statistics Act 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 & Humans 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
2011 Revision Model Act In anticipation of the new Model Act being approved, several states have introduced bills Passed in Oklahoma in 2011—no one noticed Bills introduced in Virginia, Washington, Oregon, and Texas—mixed results RPAC, together with state and local genealogists have been working to stop any adverse changes Watch for introduction in your state legislature Could be in form of regulations
Key Words to Look For In New Legislation Birth record Birth certificate Death record Death certificate Divorce record Marriage record Marriage certificate Still birth record Domestic partnership record-certificate
Key Words Continued Vital records Public records State archives Model vital record act Vital statistics Social Security Number State registrar Disclosure of records Name of your state’s vital records regulatory agency
Remember to Watch For Regulations Too Regulations are way for state regulators to require actions that are not in state law and to “reinterpret” state laws NAHPHSIS 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
Things to Do Now Find out when your state’s legislature begins and ends. Many start in January- but the end dates vary- some go year ‘round See: http://www.statescape.com/Resources/Sessions/Sessions.aspx?h=&year=2014 As January is around the corner this is the time to find out who are your representatives, their contact information and make your selves known to them
What You and Your Society Can Do 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
Tool Kit For State Liaisons See: http://tinyurl.com/83q6t8m Interview on Records Access http://tinyurl.com/7tlpcbt
State Liaison Meeting 12 Nov 2013 See slides on the RPAC Blog (www.fgs/RPAC/publications) last bullet See slides #25-30; 34-38 Terminology How a bill becomes a law
Monitor Bills Bills change subjects from what they originally covered when introduced. What to do? Actively monitor and review all future versions of the bill
How to read changes: Underlined/italicized words are new Crossed-out words are those being removed New language in italics Removed language crossed-out
Each Country and State Is Different You need to know how your country or state writes legislation How a bill becomes a law
How To Find Your State’s ? “How A Bill Becomes A Law” Google it! www.google.com
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!
Write a Letter to the Committee(s)Which Will Hear the Bill 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
How To Find Out Where To Write Go to www.IAJGS.org and click on Legislation Then on Legislative Websites US State Legislative websites US Congress
Massachusetts Legislature Page
Get To Know Your Local Representatives 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 Your Country’s Governing Members And their staffs!
Keep Informed 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
Examples of Key Political Columns Sacramento Bee-Capital Alert http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/ Politics
Dan Walters- Political ColumnistSacramento Bee
COALITION-BUILDING YOU ARE NOT ALONE! REACH OUT! ARCHIVISTS HISTORIANS LIBRARIANS LOCAL/STATE PRESS OTHER GENEALOGICAL SOCIETIES IAJGS/RPAC OTHER ORGANIZATIONS DEPENDING ON ISSUES IN BILLS
We need you to be the eyes and ears for early alerts about the bills. Your local presence and involvementis key to success!
Recent Vital Records Legislation Oregon—Jan Meisels Allen Passed with no change in embargo periods Limited access to the indices Texas—Teri Flack Killed in Committee Maine—Helen Shaw Law changed 2010. Researcher card to provide access to genealogists 2014 pending regulations incorporate some Model Act provisions (to make the indices private)
Jan Alpert, Chair RPAC
2013 Bipartisan Budget Bill The Bipartisan Budget Bill passed by both houses in December and signed by the President 27 December 2013, is now the law. Under Section 203, SSDI records are closed for three years after the death of each individual Although we are not happy, the outcome could have been worse. Two bills asked for permanent closure of the Death Master File/SSDI.
RPAC Response to 2013 Bipartisan Budget Bill—Part I We are asking the Commerce Department to certify genealogists who need immediate access (estimated to be not more than 3,000): Department of Defense repatriation of remains Identification of unclaimed persons Missing and unknown heir cases involving estates, trusts, real estate, oil & gas & mineral rights, quiet title actions, and similar activities. Settlement of estates Tracing and tracking heritable medical conditions Repatriation of stolen art Identifying Native American blood quantum to determine eligibility for tribal benefits
RPAC Response to 2013 Bipartisan Budget Bill—Part II On a parallel path RPAC is working to convince key Congressional Committees that identity theft of the deceased from use of the SSDI is no longer a problem. IRS flags have closed many loop holes The current SSDI is no longer available for free If the SSN is masked for three years, the rest of the record should be available to all genealogists
RPAC Will Provide Talking Points 2011 Model Vital Statistics Act 2013 Bipartisan Budget Bill Sample letters to write
Fred Moss, JD, LL.M. Counsel for FGS Grandfather of the famous author, Evan Moss, who published his first book at age 7.
Myths, Misperceptions &Unstated Assumptions Genealogy = “Just a hobby”, Nosey Neighbors Open Records Promote Identity Theft Vital Records can be closed without costs
Thesis We as genealogists have inadequately educated the general public and decision-makers about: Why we do what we do What we need to do it right How we & society benefit from this effort
What is Needed NOW ? Do you know your elected representatives? Do they know you? Call on your state and federal legislators Office Visits during Congressional Recesses and holidays We also recommend joint calls between President of State Genealogical Society and APG Chapter President
RPAC Blog Posts Statements sent to Congressional Committees about the need to keep the SSDI available Copies of letters to state legislators and/or Governors on the 2011 Model Vital Statistics Act Other state actions: Maine, Georgia Archives
RPAC Blog http://www.fgs.org/rpac/publications
RPAC Blog http://www.fgs.org/rpac/publications
Contact RPAC Watch the RPAC Blog www.fgs.org/rpac for updates We can help! We need to know early and stay informed throughout the legislative process Contact RPAC at email@example.com