Texas State Genealogical Society Alert: House Bill 3252 – Closing Texas Birth and Death Records

Texas State Genealogical SocietyI’ve been a member of the Texas State Genealogical Society(TSGS) since 2011 and what I’ve enjoyed most about my membership is being kept abreast of state legislation that will impact my research. So what is before the state right now? House Bill 3252 by Rep. John Zerwas that would close Texas birth records for 125 years and Texas death records for 50 years! So read TSGS’s alert below! What is the current status of HB 3252? According to the Texas Legislature Online History Website for HB 3252, it’s “pending” in committee at this time. But for how long? I don’t know, but I will definitely be following the different stages of this bill and you can too, if you like, at the link below:
TSGS LEGISLATION ALERT! – House Bill 3252 – Closing Birth and Death Records

We are writing to you as a member of the genealogical community of Texas to alert you to a bill being considered by the Texas Legislature. We should have sent this alert out to you sooner. We’ve been so consumed with developing a response and strategy that we’ve neglected to keep you informed. We promise to do a better job of sending you alerts in the future more quickly.

House Bill 3252 by Representative John Zerwas (Fort Bend County) would close Texas birth records for 125 years and Texas death records for 50 years. Under current Texas law, birth and death records now become public information 75 years after a birth and 25 years after a death. Proponents of the bill believe that closing birth and death records for 125 and 50 years will prevent identity theft and fraud.

TSGS is actively opposing this legislation. Last week, President Susan Kaufman, President-Elect John Wylie, Director Randy Whited, and Records Preservation and Access Chair Teri Flack testified before the House Public Health Committee strongly expressing our opinion that increasing these time limits will do nothing to prevent identity theft and that, particularly by closing death records for 50 years, family historians will be prevented from obtaining their family’s health history in a timely manner. We provided background information to enable the members to understand the impact of the bill. A copy of the bill, the written testimony we submitted to the committee, and our written response to questions and issues raised during the hearing may be found at http://www.txsgs.org/RPAC/RPAC.html. If you are so inclined, you can watch the hearing at http://www.txsgs.org/TSGS/hb3252/.

We know it will take the effort of our entire community to persuade legislators that this bill is unnecessary. We are asking you to write Rep. Zerwas and express your opinion. His email address is john.zerwas@house.state.tx.us.  It does not have to be a lengthy point-counterpoint communication. Feel free to use some of the arguments we included in our testimony; however, most legislators dismiss anything that sounds like a form letter. So, it would be counterproductive to simply forward this alert or a copy of our testimony. Rep. Zerwas has already listened to our official testimony. A simple, personally crafted message in your own words will be more effective.

We are also asking you to write to members of the House Public Health Committee, particularly if you live in the district of one of the members. Here’s a link to the committee so you can see who the members are and to find their email addresses:  House Public Health Committee members.  Be sure to let them know you are writing to them about HB 3252 because of their membership on that committee. Not sure if you live in a member’s district? You can go to Texas Legislature Online at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/ and plug in your address information. It will tell you who your representative and senator are.

Please don’t dawdle. The bill may be voted out of the Public Health Committee as early as Friday. So, the sooner you write the more impact you will have.

Please forward this message to anyone who might be willing to climb aboard this urgent effort. You don’t need to limit it just to your fellow genealogists. Send it to anyone who might be willing to speak up for open government.

Thank you for your support of this effort. We’ll keep you posted on any action taken by the Legislature.

Sue Kaufman
Texas State Genealogical Society


Source Citation:

Kaufman, S. (2013, April 10). TSGS LEGISLATION ALERT! – House Bill 3252 – Closing Birth and Death Records [Genealogical Societies: TX-TEXSTATE Mailing List]. Retrieved April 12, 2013, from http://lists.rootsweb.ancestry.com/index/other/Genealogical_Societies/TX-TEXSTATE.html


4 thoughts on “Texas State Genealogical Society Alert: House Bill 3252 – Closing Texas Birth and Death Records

  1. Dear Representative Zerwas,

    My name is Justin L. Smith and I am a citizen of Texas. Having many family members who were born, lived and died in Texas, and having benefited from being able to access their birth and death records, and knowing many people who have done the same, I am very alarmed at the new unnecessary legislation that you have introduced. I am especially concerned about restricting death records, as these cannot be used for identity (a dead person would not be trying to be identified!) and even though they do contain social security numbers, there is a such thing as the Social Security Death Master List that contains the social security numbers of deceased people, so such a number is useless to one who is attempting to create a false identity. I strongly urge you to cease and desist your efforts to further impede access to such records. It will only bring bad fruit, it will not help you in your campaign against identity theft. Good, law abiding people who only want to be able to access family records in the very meaningful quest for family history and for health history (it is nice to know what genetic issues one is predisposed for) will suffer from this. Thanks.

    Justin L. Smith
    469 262 8021


    • Oh Justin, THANK YOU so much for stopping by and sharing a copy of your letter with me. I truly appreciate you and everyone who has made a point of contacting their Representation about this very issue. Again, THANK YOU!


  2. Oh my heavens, I’m so glad that TSGS is fighting this measure with all they’ve got! So many of the state legislatures have gone fairly crazy in recent years, passing extreme legislation. Sometimes I wonder whether our elected officials really read bills and really listen to arguments.

    I wish TSGS strength. Hang in there!


    • Thanks @MariannSReagan I’m definitely trying to stay hopeful that this bill does not pass. I check the website everyday when I get home from work to see if it has passed or died a quick death – LOL! Only time will tell . . . closing these records WILL NOT prevent identity theft or fraud as they think it will. As long as cemeteries are open to the public where birth and death info runs the gamut, identity theft and fraud will continue!


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