New Jersey Assembly Bill 1390 (A1390)
A1390 provides that vital records (e.g., birth, death, and marriage certificates) will no longer be considered public records. The bill limits who may obtain copies of vital records and when. Based on the language of the bill, it is not clear whether genealogists will continue to have access to vital records. The bill would limit genealogists’ ability to share the information with anyone. The intent of the bill appears to be to protect against identity theft and terrorism.
Sponsors of Bill
The bill is sponsored by Assemblywomen Joan M. Quigley and Nellie Pou and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Mims Hackett.
Vital records are a critical source of family history information. A1390 is a matter of concern because it appears to inhibit access to vital records and limits dissemination of the information contained in vital records.
Proposed Solution – Part 1
Section 3 of the bill sets forth several exceptional circumstances under which the State registrar may provide access to vital records. It is proposed that an additional exception be included to cover non-certified copies of vital records. If this exception were accepted, a new subsection 3(b)(5) of the bill would read:
“3. The provisions of section 2 of this act shall not be construed to prohibit the State registrar from…
b. furnishing or disclosing vital records, upon application on a form and in a manner prescribed by the State registrar, as follows:…
(5) informational or non-certified copies of vital records to anyone after 80 years have elapsed in the case of birth records and 50 years have elapsed in the case of marriage records and 40 years in the case of death records.”
Proposed Solution – Part 2
Section 4 of the bill requires any one applying to view or obtain a copy of a vital record to affirm that they will not disclose the information. We propose that subsection 4 (d)(2)(c) be stricken from the bill.
Argument in Favor of Amendment
The passage of time (80 or 50 or 40 years, as the case may be) ensures that the vital records cannot be used for identity theft; the non-certified nature of the copies ensures that the vital records cannot be used to obtain fraudulent identification documents. The bill, as amended, would address the issues of identity theft and terrorism, while appropriately respecting the legitimate interests of the genealogical community.
The Genealogical Society of New Jersey encourages local genealogical and historical societies as well as individuals to approach their local legislators and the sponsors of A1390 to offer their support of the bill if it is amended as outlined above.
Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, office number 201-217-4614, fax 201-217-4617
Hamilton Park Foundry
242 Tenth St. Suite 101, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Assemblywoman Nellie Pou, office number 973-247-1555, fax 973-247-1550
100 Hamilton Plaza Suite 1403-05 Paterson, NJ 07505
Assemblyman Mims Hackett, office Number 973-762-1886, fax 973-762-6118
15 Village Plaza Suite 1B South Orange, NJ 07079
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Last updated: 6 February 2006