Unfortunately, the measure passed 21-16 in the Senate. Governor Davis signed SB 1614 on September 19, 2002 (Chapter 712). The perception was that the need for genealogists to have access to various records, when put side by side against public safety, the public safety was more important; that although tracing family roots is now more difficult, it will not make it impossible. Let's hope that SB 1614 will enable us to gain protection against identity theft. DEA 9-26-2002.

The following article is from Eastmanís Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2002 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author.


- Update: California Vital Record Closures

In the May 20, 2002 edition of this newsletter, I wrote about the threat to close California records that are vital to genealogists researching ancestors in that state. That article reported the efforts of the California State Genealogical Alliance and other organizations to keep these records open. The Alliance asked genealogists to write to the California legislators.

The response from that appeal was overwhelming, and the bill was put on hold at that time. Now some legislators are going to try again. This time they are moving on very short notice, perhaps in an effort to "sneak it through" before the opposing groups notice.

The bill has been changed, so you may want to read it again. Genealogists are specifically targeted in the bill as we are not included in the list of people who can now have access, although even private investigators can see the records.

The following alert is from Iris Carter Jones, California State Genealogical Alliance Legislative Coordinator



SB1614 was passed by the California Senate and will now be heard by the California State Assembly Judiciary Committee on MONDAY, JULY 1st. This bill is trying to zip through under the radar, and must be derailed NOW. Please call, fax, and e-mail ALL MEMBERS OF THE CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY JUDICIARY COMMITTEE TODAY and urge a DO NOT PASS vote on SB1614. Fax and e-mail should be sent by FRIDAY, JUNE 28th. The bill, sponsored by Senator Jackie Speier, seeks to remove California's birth and death indices from the public domain, where they have been generally available to the public since 1905. The passage of this bill will transform a century of public information into closely guarded state secrets.

SB1614 would foster secrecy in government. Citizens would no longer be able to access government-held, public information on their own histories and identities. This bill would create a right of confidentiality that has never before existed. The birth and death indexes are not and have never been personally owned, confidential information; they are and have always been public records. SB1614 seeks to reverse a century-long free flow of public information by placing the use of both indexes back under strict government regulation.

The birth and death indices are used extensively for genealogical and historical research, population studies, public health queries and public policy research. SB1614 will do little to help the problem it was intended to address - identity theft. According to the First Amendment Coalition, most identity theft occurs through the literal theft of mail, purses, and wallets by friends, relatives, neighbors, and strangers - not through use of the birth and death indices.


1.    This bill would remove the comprehensive birth and death indices from protection of the California Public Records Act. Instead, it would make the indices confidential information - except to government agencies.

2.    This bill would prohibit a government agency from selling or releasing these indices. This bill would also prohibit specified businesses and individuals, who legally purchased the indices from the State prior to December 31, 2001, from releasing and sharing with others. The bill authorizes a civil penalty to enforce this prohibition.

3.    This bill would require the State Registrar to establish a separate, NON comprehensive electronic birth and death indices, available for public inspection at county recorders' offices statewide and at the office of the State Registrar. The information to be included in the non comprehensive indices will be determined by the State Registrar. No printing will be allowed at these special computer terminals. Individuals who wish to view the non comprehensive birth or death index must certify, UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY, that the information they view will not be used for criminal purposes.

4.    This bill would permit the release of SPECIFIED personal information to financial institutions and consumer credit reporting agencies, for the sole purpose of determining if the person whose information is being released is still living.

Please share this information with any lists you are on.


Send one copy of your letter to the Judiciary Committee and one to each committee member.

California State Assembly Judiciary Committee
1020 N Street, Room 104
Sacramento, CA, 95814
Fax: (916) 319-2188
E-mail: vanessa.cisneros@asm.ca.gov

Ellen M. Corbett (Chair)
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001
Phone: (916) 319-2018
Fax: (916) 319-2118
E-mail: Assemblymember.Corbett@assembly.ca.gov

Tom Harman (Vice-Chair)
State Capitol, Room 5158
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 319-2067
Fax: (916) 319-2167
E-mail: Assemblymember.Harman@assembly.ca.gov

Patricia C. Bates
Capitol, Room 6031
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 319-2073
Fax: (916) 319-2173
E-mail: assemblymember.bates@assembly.ca.gov

Robert Pacheco
Capitol, Room 4177
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 319-2060
Fax: (916) 319-2160
E-mail: assemblymember.robert.pacheco@asm/ca/gov

Rod Pacheco
Capitol, Room 2130
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 319-2064
Fax: (916) 319-2164
E-mail: rod.pacheco@asm.ca.gov

John A. Dutra
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001

Phone: (916) 319-2020
Fax: (916) 319-2120
E-mail: Assemblymember.Dutra@assembly.ca.gov

Hannah-Beth Jackson
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001

Phone: (916) 319-2035
Fax: (916) 319-2135
E-mail: Assemblymember.Jackson@assembly.ca.gov

Howard Wayne
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001

Phone: (916) 319 -2078
Fax: (916) 319 - 2178
E-mail: Assemblymember.Wayne@assembly.ca.gov

Darrell Steinberg
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001

Phone: (916) 319-2009
Fax: (916) 319-2109
E-mail: assemblymember.steinberg@assembly.ca.gov

John Longville
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001

Phone: (916) 319-2062
Fax: (916) 319-2162
E-mail: Assemblymember.Longville@assembly.ca.gov

Juan Vargas
Capitol, Room 2188
Sacramento, CA 94249-0001
Phone: (916) 319-2079
Fax: (916) 319-2179
Email: Assemblymember.Vargas@assembly.ca.gov

Kevin Shelley
Capitol, Room 319
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: (916) 319-2012
Fax: (916) 319-2112
E-mail: Kevin.Shelley@asm.ca.gov

Also send a copy of your Assembly Judiciary Committee letter to these three additional addresses:

Governor Gray Davis
State Capitol Building

Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633
E-mail: governor@governor.ca.gov

Assembly Republican Caucus
Mark Redmond
Fax: 916-319-3902

Bastard Nation
E-mail: letters@bastards.org

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