ASSEMBLY, No. 1390

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

212th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2006 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman JOAN M. QUIGLEY

District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)

Assemblywoman NELLIE POU

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman Hackett

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes guidelines for dissemination of vital records.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning the dissemination of vital records and supplementing Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  As used in this act:

     "Qualified business entity" means a bank, trust company, safe deposit company, benefit association, insurance company, credit union, credit agency, savings and loan association, industrial loan company, title company, or other person or entity in the business of lending money or clearing title of real or personal property of a deceased person.

     "State registrar" means the State registrar of vital statistics.

     "Vital records" means the birth, death, fetal death, marriage and domestic partnership records from which vital statistics are produced, including all paper records, indices, forms, data, data systems and related documents or information collected or stored in the registration of vital statistics.

     "Vital statistics" means statistics concerning births, deaths, fetal deaths, marriages and domestic partnerships.

 

     2.  Vital records shall not be deemed to be a public or government record pursuant to P.L.1963, c.73 (C.47:1A-1 et seq.) or P.L.2001, c.404 (C.47:1A-5 et seq.).

 

     3.  The provisions of section 2 of this act shall not be construed to prohibit the State registrar from:

     a.  supplying a certification or certified copy of a vital record to an individual pursuant to R.S.26:8-62; or

     b.  furnishing or disclosing vital records, upon application on a form and in a manner prescribed by the State registrar, as follows:

     (1) to a local, state or federal government agency for use by that agency in the performance of its official duties; except that the agency shall not release to another party any portion of the vital records obtained from the State registrar without the latter's written consent, unless otherwise required by law;

     (2) a death record to a qualified business entity with a demonstrated need to establish the death of an individual in the performance of the duties of its business; 

     (3) a birth record to a person or entity performing research that has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Department of Health and Senior Services, except that the approval of the board shall not be transferable to another party and shall be valid for a period of one year following its issuance by the board; or

     (4) a death record to a person or entity performing research that has been approved by the State registrar based upon a demonstration of valid scientific interest as determined by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services in accordance with standards approved by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, except that the approval of the State registrar shall not be transferable to another party and shall be valid for a period of one year following its issuance by the State registrar.

 

     4.  a.  An application to visually inspect or obtain a vital record pursuant to subsection b. of section 3 of this act shall be subject to the approval of the State registrar.

     b.  Visual inspection of a vital record shall be limited to data files compiled in response to the application, or to redacted true images of the vital records document on file in the Bureau of Vital Statistics and Registration in the Department of Health and Senior Services.  The Commissioner of Health and Senior Services shall determine the data  items to be redacted.

     c.  The State registrar shall establish an application form that a person or entity shall be required to file with the State registrar in order to visually inspect or obtain a vital record pursuant to subsection b. of section 3 of this act.  The application form shall be separate and distinct from the form used to obtain a certification or certified copy of a vital record pursuant to R.S.26:8-62, and shall contain a statement of the penalties to which a person or entity is subject for a violation of the provisions of this act.

     d.  An applicant shall be required to:

     (1)  provide documentation, as prescribed by the State registrar, to verify the applicant's identity, including, at a minimum, the applicant's name and address, and the purpose for which the information being sought is intended; and

     (2)  affirm in writing that the applicant will:

     (a)  use the information only for the purpose stated by the applicant in the application;

     (b)  maintain the information in a secure manner; and

     (c)  not transfer, sell, share, reproduce or otherwise disclose the information to another party.

     e.  An application to visually inspect or obtain a vital record for the purposes of research approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Department of Health and Senior Services shall conform with any requirements as to the process or form for making that application established by the Institutional Review Board of the Department of Health and Senior Services, and shall be subject to approval by the board as well as the State registrar.

     f.  The State registrar shall retain an application form approved by the State registrar, or an electronic image thereof, for a period of seven years from the date of its approval by the State registrar.

     g.  The State registrar may establish fees to cover the reasonable costs of preparing and releasing vital records incurred by the State registrar pursuant to this act.


     5.  A person or entity that uses, transfers, sells, shares or otherwise discloses any information as described in subsection b. of section 3 of this act in a manner that is not authorized under the provisions of this act or any other law shall be guilty of a crime of the fourth degree and shall thereafter be prohibited from making application to obtain any such information pursuant to this act.

 

     6.  The Commissioner of Health and Senior Services may adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) to effectuate the purposes of this act; except that, notwithstanding any provision of P.L.1968, c.410 to the contrary, the commissioner may adopt, immediately upon filing with the Office of Administrative Law, such regulations as the commissioner deems necessary to implement the provisions of this act, which shall be effective for a period not to exceed six months and may thereafter be amended, adopted or readopted by the commissioner in accordance with the requirements of P.L.1968, c.410.

 

     7.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill sets forth statutory guidelines governing applications by researchers, government agencies, financial institutions and other persons or entities to view or obtain vital records maintained by the State registrar of vital statistics.

     The bill defines "vital records" as the birth, death, fetal death, marriage and domestic partnership records from which vital statistics are produced, including all paper records, indices, forms, data, data systems and related documents or information collected or stored in the registration of vital statistics.

     The bill provides that:

C     Vital records are not to be deemed to be a public or government record pursuant to N.J.S.A.47:1A-1 et seq. or 47:1A-5 et seq.

C     The provisions of the bill are not to be construed to prohibit the State registrar from:  supplying a certification or certified copy of a vital record to an individual pursuant to N.J.S.A.26:8-62; or furnishing or disclosing vital records, upon application on a form and in a manner prescribed by the State registrar, as follows:

     --  to a local, state or federal government agency for use by that agency in the performance of its official duties; except that the agency is prohibited from releasing to another party any portion of the vital records obtained from the State registrar without the latter's written consent, unless otherwise required by law;

     --  a death record to a qualified business entity with a demonstrated need to establish the death of an individual in the performance of the duties of its business (i.e., a financial institution as stipulated in the bill or another person or entity in the business of lending money or clearing title of real or personal property of a deceased person); 

     --  a birth record to a person or entity performing research that has been approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the Department of Health and Senior Services, except that the approval of the IRB is not transferable to another party and is valid for a period of one year following its issuance by the IRB; or

     --  a death record to a person or entity performing research that has been approved by the State registrar based upon a demonstration of valid scientific interest as determined by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services in accordance with standards approved by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, except that the approval of the State registrar is not transferable to another party and is valid for a period of one year following its issuance by the State registrar.

C     An application to visually inspect or obtain a vital record pursuant to the bill is subject to the approval of the State registrar.

C     Visual inspection of a vital record is to be limited to data files compiled in response to the application, or to redacted true images of the vital records document on file in the Bureau of Vital Statistics and  Registration in the Department of Health and Senior Services.  The Commissioner of Health and Senior Services is to determine the data items to be redacted.

C     The State registrar is to establish an application form that a person or entity will be required to file with the State registrar in order to visually inspect or obtain a vital record pursuant to the bill (and which will be separate and distinct from the form used to obtain a certification or certified copy of a vital record pursuant to R.S.26:8-62).  The application form is to contain a statement of the penalties to which a person or entity is subject for a violation of the provisions of the bill.

C     An applicant is required to:

     --  provide documentation, as prescribed by the State registrar, to verify the applicant's identity, including, at a minimum, the applicant's name and address, and the purpose for which the information being sought is intended; and

     --  affirm in writing that the applicant will:  use the information only for the purpose stated by the applicant in the application; maintain the information in a secure manner; and not transfer, sell, share, reproduce or otherwise disclose the information to another party.

C     An application by a person or entity performing research to be approved by the IRB of the Department of Health and Senior Services is to conform with any requirements as to the process or form for making that application established by the IRB, and is subject to approval by the IRB as well as the State registrar.

C     The State registrar is to retain an application form approved by the State registrar, or an electronic image thereof, which authorizes a person or entity to visually inspect or obtain a vital record pursuant to the bill, for a period of seven years from the date of its approval by the State registrar.

C     The State registrar may establish fees to cover the reasonable costs of preparing and releasing vital records.

C     A person or entity that uses, transfers, sells, shares or otherwise discloses vital records in a manner that is not authorized under the provisions of the bill or any other law is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree (punishable by imprisonment for up to 18 months or a fine of up to $10,000, or both) and is thereafter prohibited from making application to obtain any such information.