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                                                      PRINTER'S NO. 1966



No. 1378 Session of 2008

           MADIGAN AND FOLMER, APRIL 25, 2008


                                     AN ACT

     1  Amending the act of June 29, 1953 (P.L.304, No.66), entitled "An
     2     act providing for the administration of a statewide system of
     3     vital statistics; prescribing the functions of the State
     4     Department of Health, the State Advisory Health Board and
     5     local registrars; imposing duties upon coroners,
     6     prothonotaries, clerks of orphans' court, physicians,
     7     midwives and other persons; requiring reports and
     8     certificates for the registration of vital statistics;
     9     regulating the disposition of dead bodies; limiting the
    10     disclosure of records; prescribing the sufficiency of vital
    11     statistics records as evidence; prescribing fees and
    12     penalties; and revising and consolidating the laws relating
    13     thereto," further providing for general powers and duties of
    14     Department of Health, for disclosure of records and for
    15     evidentiary sufficiency of records; providing for access to
    16     records on Internet website; and making an appropriation.

    17     The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
    18  hereby enacts as follows:
    19     Section 1.  Sections 201, 801 and 810 of the act of June 29,
    20  1953 (P.L.304, No.66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of
    21  1953, are amended to read:
    22     Section 201.  Department: General Powers and Duties.--(a)
    23  The department shall, pursuant to the provisions of the act,

     1  approved the ninth day of April, one thousand nine hundred
     2  twenty-nine (Pamphlet Laws 177), as amended, cited as "The
     3  Administrative Code of 1929":
     4     (1)  Administer and enforce the provisions of this act and
     5  the regulations made pursuant thereto.
     6     (2)  Install and maintain a statewide system of vital
     7  statistics.
     8     (3)  Be the custodian of all vital statistics files and
     9  records collected, created or compiled under the provisions of
    10  this act.
    11     (4)  Have supervisory power over all local registrars
    12  appointed under the provisions of this act.
    13     (b)  Within two years of the effective date of this
    14  subsection, the department shall implement an Internet-based
    15  electronic death registration system for the creation, storage
    16  and transfer of death registration information. The electronic
    17  death registration system shall protect the proper use of the
    18  death registration information created, stored and transferred
    19  within the system and shall be subject to any limitation placed
    20  on the accessibility and release of personally identifying
    21  information contained in a death record by any other provision
    22  of law.
    23     Section 801.  Records: Disclosure in General.--The vital
    24  statistics records of the department and of local registrars
    25  shall not be open to public inspection except as authorized by
    26  the provisions of this act and the regulations of the Advisory
    27  Health Board. Neither the department nor local registrars shall
    28  issue copies of or disclose any vital statistics record or part
    29  thereof created under the provisions of this or prior acts
    30  except in compliance with the provisions of this act and the
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     1  regulations of the Advisory Health Board. When one hundred (100)
     2  years have elapsed after the date of birth or fifty (50) years
     3  have elapsed after the date of death, the records, including any
     4  application filed in connection therewith, of these events shall
     5  become public records, and information shall be made available
     6  in written form and without fee or charge for access on an
     7  Internet website established and maintained by the department in
     8  accordance with regulations which shall provide for the
     9  continued safekeeping of the records.
    10     Section 810.  Records: Evidentiary Sufficiency.--(a)  Any
    11  written record or duly certified copy of a record or part
    12  thereof which is (1) filed with the department in accordance
    13  with the provisions of this act and the regulations of the
    14  Advisory Health Board and which (2) is not a "delayed" record
    15  filed under section seven hundred two of this act or a record
    16  "corrected" under section seven hundred three of this act shall
    17  constitute prima facie evidence of its contents, except that in
    18  any proceeding in which paternity is controverted and which
    19  affects the interests of an alleged father or his successors in
    20  interest no record or part thereof shall constitute prima facie
    21  evidence of paternity unless the alleged father is the husband
    22  of the mother of the child.
    23     (b)  Only records or duly certified copies of records
    24  maintained or issued by the department and with the raised seal
    25  of the department or bureau affixed thereto shall constitute
    26  prima facie evidence.
    27     Section 2.  The act is amended by adding a section to read:
    28     Section 811.  Access to Records on Internet Website.--(a)
    29  The department shall establish and maintain a searchable
    30  database of all birth and death certificates records held and
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     1  maintained by the department. The database shall be subject to
     2  any limitation placed on the accessibility and release of
     3  personally identifying information contained in a record by any
     4  other provision of law.
     5     (b)  The department shall establish and maintain a searchable
     6  index database of all death records for which more than two (2)
     7  years have elapsed but fewer than fifty (50) years have elapsed.
     8  The index database shall be open to public examination without
     9  charge or fee on an Internet website. The information open to
    10  public examination in the index shall be limited to the
    11  decedents' names, dates of death, approximate ages at death and
    12  places of death.
    13     Section 3.  An amount to be determined shall be appropriated
    14  to the Department of Health for the implementation of this act.
    15     Section 4.  This act shall take effect in 60 days.

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