New Maine Vital Records Law Amended to Allow Genealogists Access

Governor Baldacci has signed into law the bill discussed here, but with an important amendment. Subsection 8 states that "Custodians of certificates and records of birth, marriage and death may permit inspection of records by and issue noncertified copies to researchers engaged in genealogical research who hold researcher identification cards, as specified by rule adopted by the department."

What is meant by a "researcher identification card" is not yet clear. Some states require that researchers be an active member in a genealogical society before inspecting vital records. We can hope that any researcher who produces identification and registers at the Maine State Archives will continue to be allowed free access to records there.

Update (7 June 2010): Roxanne Moore Saucier has news about the rule-making process:
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which has been directed to adopt rules to implement this, will meet with municipal clerks at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Thursday, June 10, in the third-floor conference room at KeyBank Plaza, 286 Water St., Augusta.

Stakeholders will not have another formal opportunity to make their points until the draft of the rules is made public for review and comment later this year.

One of the topics is expected to be the definition of “immediate family” to ensure that family members are not accidentally excluded from access to the records.

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