Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Guess You Just Can't Fix Stupid in the Oklahoma State Legislature!

Politicians! In my book they rank right up there some where between a used car salesman and hookers. Oops - I guess I just gave used car salesmen and hookers a bad name.

If I had a politician in my family tree, I might be forced to commit "Seppuku" (a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment). Talk about black sheep, while they make them look good.

In that light, what the rest of us in this country would like to know, "Hey Oklahoma, where the hell do you get all your stupid state politicians from?"  I have determined that I don't want to go there, live there, or associate with anyone from there for fear some of that stupid might rub off.

The home of state legislators who do not read bills -- Oklahoma State Capitol
Now for some background. I wrote back on March 16 (FRB Genealogy Editorial) about the state law in Oklahoma that made it into law that the only person who can request a death certificate from the state of Oklahoma is . . . wait for it . . . the dead person listed on the death certificate.

This is now a rarity for OK state researchers. Only the dead person listed in the certificate can get one.
I know you folks are probably laughing falling out of your chairs right now, but this is actually sort of serious. So I'll take the genealogy hobby slant out of this and be practical. How are estate administrators and executors able to do business if they can't get a death certificate for the deceased they are handling the probate process for. The ban on obtaining a death certificate for ANY period of time prevents heirs from claiming any kind of death benefits. The way we read it, under that law even a probate judge can't order the release of that death certificate. They even made it a felony for state employees to release a death cert to anyone but the deceased.

But never fear our faithful state servants from the Boomer Sooner state were determined to fix stupid they wrote in the first bill. They would pass a new law that would take care of everything wrong in the old law they passed. R-i-g-h-t!

So now I will continue this saga courtesy of this little piece from my good friend Dick Eastman and his newsletter (if you don't subscribe and you call yourself a genealogist you should subscribe). I'll quote this directly from Dick's article so there is no confusion in the reporting.

Oklahoma SB 1448 Signed Into Law By Governor Mary Fallin

"You may remember the controversy surrounding a recently-enacted law in Oklahoma that restricts access to vital records for many years. Amongst other provisions, the law requires copies of death certificates to be issued only to the person who is listed on the certificate. That’s right, for the first 75 years following a death, you can’t order a death certificate unless you are dead!

"Now the state legislature had a chance to fix the problem, but failed to do so. The following was received from Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies’ Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

"Oklahoma SB 1448 was signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin on April 30, 2014. It becomes effective November 1, 2014. The bill was supposed to correct the legislation enacted several years ago that addressed vital records. Last year when a professional genealogist tried to obtain a copy of a death record it was found out that the law only permitted the named person-the deceased to request their own death record. The law also made it a felony if a Department of Health Services employee provided the death certificate to anyone other the named person. Instead of “fixing” the glitch, the state incorporated the Model Vital Records Act provisions which closes records for 125 years for births, death records for 75 years, and marriage and divorce records for 100 years. Unfortunately, the new law retained the same language – permitting only the “named person” to obtain the record during the embargo period. Therefore, for death records only the deceased may request their own records within the 75 years from date of death. The Oklahoma Genealogy Society decided that this was better than never having any access as was included in the original law from several years ago. To read the enrolled version see:
"HB 3028 which was reported upon earlier and would merge the Oklahoma Historical Society into the Department of Tourism, History and Cultural Affairs has had no further action—heard in House Government Modernization Committee in early March. However, as the legislature does not adjourn until May 30, it is always possible that it may be appended into another bill. The genealogical community will continue to monitor."

My, my what fools they grow in Oklahoma. The whole thing has to be the dumbest damn thing I have ever heard of. Maybe it is a failure of the Oklahoma state education system. They just didn't teach any of their legislators in their schools to read and reason with any sort of intelligence. Let me say this slowly so the Okies can understand it, "Y-o-u  a-r-e  s-u-p-p-o-s-e  t-o  r-e-a-d  t-h-e  b-I-l-l-s  b-e-f-o-r-e  y-o-u v-o-t-e  o-n  t-h-e-m!"

So this all leads to another logical question that I have to ask (that means with common sense for those of you who live in Oklahoma City). What good reason would any of the Oklahoma state law makers in good old Sooner land have for sealing a marriage or divorce record for 100 hundred years. Have you ever heard of a public record? Have you ever seen a marriage event published in the newspaper? Divorce proceedings published in the newspaper? Are divorce hearings now conducted in a private court setting? Are marriage ceremonies now considered private? What now wedding crashers?

And for you guys who have attended my genealogy classes, I have changed my mind. Oklahoma is now the worse state in the United States for genealogy research. It now has overshadowed the previous worse state of South Carolina. We have a new genealogy looserville.

So my message to my friends and family in Oklahoma is simple:-

Does anyone in Oklahoma get this? I guess not!