Vital Records Bill May Be Voted On This Week

by Angela Chagnon

H.99 is an 85-page bill written by the Department of Health, and is intended to update the state’s vital records system. Vermont is an “open-records” state, which means that anyone can ask for copies of other people’s vital records that are kept in the state. The bill has provisions that will change Vermont’s vital records laws to give these records more protection from identity thieves. Among the bill’s proposals are:

· A “fraud file” alert system to prevent ID theft.

· Requests for certified copies of vital records must be done by application. Only those people listed on a file at the office will be entitled to receive certified copies of certain documents.

· Birth Certificates will be changed to remove any indication that a person has been adopted.

· For those who have had sex change operations, the current process is to cross out the previous gender and write the new one above it. H.99 will remove any indication of previous gender from the birth certificate.

H.99 may be voted on Thursday and will take effect January 1, 2012 if passed.

The bill as introduced may be found here. The current version of the bill is not yet available online. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2012/bills/Intro/H-099.pdf

H.298 Will Require Towns With 1,000 or More Registered Voters to Have Vote Tabulators

H.238, known by legislators as the “Buxton bill”, will require any towns with 1,000 or more registered voters to buy vote tabulators. The tabulators will only be mandatory for statewide elections, but will be used for all recounts.

It is expected that Federal money given to the Secretary of State from the “Help America Vote Act”, totaling about $14 million, will be used to help towns buy the machines. Legislators are afraid that if the money isn’t used soon, Vermont may lose it due to the budget fight in Washington D.C.

Smaller towns without tabulators can bring their votes to their county seat to be counted. The bill will also standardize ballots statewide, requiring them to be printed on card stock paper.

H.298 will be brought to the House floor Wednesday.

The bill as introduced can be found here. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2012/bills/Intro/H-298.pdf