Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making Progress in Virginia -- More Letters Needed

We are making progress in Virginia in the quest to restore access to 19th century county and city order books. There is another need for researchers to write letters, as explained in the following letter forwarded by Barbara Vines Little.

Dear Genealogical/Historical Researcher,

Thank you for your help in contacting members of the Virginia General Assembly to urge passage of a bill to restore access to 19th century county and city order books.

I contacted you earlier this week, asking that you write members of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee to support HB 100, which will cure that problem.

Thanks to your support, I am pleased to report that HB 100 was unanimously reported out of the House subcommittee yesterday afternoon, and out of the full House Committee this morning.  Committee members reported receiving numerous messages supporting the bill.  The bill has been amended to make it clear that actual concealed carry permits and applications will remain closed, but order books will be open after 5 years.  HB 100 should be routinely approved by the full House in the next week or so, and sent to the Senate for action.

I now need your help with a parallel Senate bill, SB 600, offered by Senator John Cosgrove.  While not required, parallel House and Senate bills are often used by proponents in case one bill runs into problems.

SB 600 (also opening order books to the public after five years) will come before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee, probably next Wednesday afternoon.

Please email the members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee (whose email addresses are below), with the following suggested message (revise as you deem appropriate).  I will keep you advised on the progress of both bills.

Thank you for your support of access to Virginia’s records!

Peter E. Broadbent, Jr.
Former President, Virginia Genealogical Society

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Here is the list of email address for the Virginia state senators, and a sample letter:

Dear Senator:

I urge you to support SB 600 of Senator John Cosgrove, now before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.  This bill will cure an unintended consequence of prior legislation which has denied researchers access to Virginia historical public records going back to the 1700’s.

The Library of Virginia has had to withdraw 222 reels of microfilm from research access.  Local clerks have been compelled to deny researchers access to county order books and indices covering the 1800’s. 

Please cure this barrier to genealogical and historical research in Virginia by passing SB 600.

[your name and address]

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