Message From Montpelier: Legislative Report from Rep. Dennis Devereux

Legislative Report from Rep. Dennis Devereux for Ludlow, Mount Holly and Plymouth

Vital records might not sound like a very important issue with so many others confronting us, but just ask a person who has had their identity stolen. The Vital Records bill on which our committee has spent many hours receiving testimony is the result of a report researched and written by our Vermont Department of Health. Its report issued last September made recommendations for updating our antiquated statutes, and for changes to how we access birth and death certificates.

The eighty-four page bill addresses the many areas that the department wanted to incorporate as best practices which most other states have already adopted. We think that both efficiencies and accuracy will be improved. More importantly, the revisions will add security while reducing the opportunity for fraud and identity theft.

In the future, those requesting copies of either birth or death certificates will have to complete a form. While a certified copy will only be available to those family members qualified to receive them, an informational copy may still be issued to anyone who files a request form. The bill will allow the health department to designate those town clerk offices that meet the necessary security standards, including having a vault, to become an authorized custodian to issue copies. The bill attempts to balance the right to access information with the right to protect our identity. It also contains an increase in fees for searching or obtaining copies. There will be an increase in data collected that allows the department to update their records on the health of newborns.

H.264 addresses the serious issue in this state of repeat DUI offenders that cause death or serious injury. The bill, first introduced in 2008, was a strong response to a traffic death caused by a repeat drunk driver going the wrong way on the interstate highway. The bill establishes a mandatory minimum sentence for the third or subsequent offense with death or serious injury resulting, that may be waived by the court, provided that it is in the interest of justice or public safety. It will also require proof of insurance prior to registration of a vehicle. It includes a provision that a person who has had a license suspended in any jurisdiction will not be able to register a vehicle in Vermont. There would also be substantial penalties for lending a vehicle to another person the driver knows is intoxicated or under suspension. We hope that it keeps those convicted of these serious offenses from driving.

I hope you can join me at the Perkins House Museum in Belmont between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 9th, to discuss some of your concerns, or contact me with a message at ddevereux@leg.state.vt.us or 800-322-5616.

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