Rep. Stanley cosponsors letter to House Ways and Means on Public Records legislation

Rep. Stanley signed onto a letter to Chairman Michlewitz requesting the advancement of H.2779, legislation relating to access to public records. This important piece of legislation would open state records that are more than 75 years old to citizens of the Commonwealth, and allow children of unwed parents to access birth certificates without undue delay. It has no associated costs, and would free up the time of state employees who currently must redact records over 75 years old.

This bill would help thousands of citizens in the Commonwealth reconnect with the stories of long-deceased individuals and family members. Many of us have met with delegations of students from Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts, whose research involves telling the stories of people with disabilities who were housed in state institutions. Two-hundred-and-ninety-six persons are still buried anonymously in a pauper’s grave in Waltham, and there are thousands more all over the Commonwealth.

The work to tell the stories of these individuals is hampered by the fact that under current state law, state records of individuals’ lives are redacted in perpetuity. The result is that even descendants of these people are not able to access the records of the lives of their own ancestors. The similarities to today’s COVID-19 crisis are unmistakable, where so many have died without recognition. Someday their descendants will go looking for the few records of their lives too.