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Legislative Update February 2009
By Bernard Couming
MGC Director of Public Records
21 February 2009
Regarding the current legislative session (2009-2010) at the Massachusetts General Court the Mass. Genealogical Council (MGC) has re-submitted the exact same bill as last session, which did not get passed into law then.
Newly elected Senator Thomas P. Kennedy is the Primary sponsor of our bill. Tom (who served several years as Representative from Brockton) has long been a supporter of the preservation of access rights to public vital records. Representatives Peter Koutoujian of Waltham and William C. Galvin of Canton continue in their support and signed on as co-sponsors again this year. Also, adding his name as a co-sponsor is State Senator Steven C. Panagiotakos of the first Middlesex District and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
Other supporters are still being solicited to sign on as well. That should include your own Representatives and Senators if you are able to persuade them to add their name via Sen. Thomas P. Kennedy's office.
At present (February 20, 2009) the clerk's office has entered our bill in their Docket List as Docket # 888. That office will assign an actual bill number at the same time as it is referred to a committee and scheduled for a Public Hearing. Typically that occurs in the spring. Last session it was assigned to the Joint Committee on Public Health, Chaired (in Part) by Rep. Peter Koutoujian.
In the Executive our one ally in preserving the open access continues to be the Office of the Director of Public Records, Alan Cote who serves under the Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Galvin. Their office continues to monitor legislative activity in concert with us.
Our efforts to gain passage of our bill over the efforts of those who would close access for the past 50 to 100 years depends on the collaborative involvement of our entire community, and your communication with your own representatives and senators is the first link in that collaboration. When our bill (and probably the numerous other bills filed on this subject) are scheduled for the public hearing, we hope that a large number of you will be able to attend to support our position. The movement of legislation is determined largely by the perception of voter support.