Missouri Rep. Cynthia Davis (R-O’Fallon) (below right) has pre-filed HB 1237, a “records access” bill in the Missouri House. To no one’s surprise it contains a disclosure veto. And all records will need to be released through the court. This is is progress? Tomorrow is the first day of 2010, not 1957.
Here are the changes laid out in the official bill summary:
The bill changes the laws regarding the release of identifying
(1) Allowing a court to release it to an adopted adult without the consent of the biological parents in certain instances;
(2) Requiring a biological parent to file an affidavit that refuses to authorize the release of his or her identifying information with the court in order for the information not to be released to the adopted child. Currently, a biological parent must file an affidavit to allow his or her identifying information to be released;
(3) Allowing identifying information to be released if the biological parent is deceased and removes the requirement that the information is necessary for health-related purposes;
(4) Allowing release of identifying information concerning an adult sibling without the consent of the adult sibling and without a court finding that the information is needed for health-related purposes; and
(5) Repealing the requirement that the Children’s Division within the Department of Social Services attempt to make confidential contact with a biological parent or adult sibling
who has not given consent of the release of identifying information when a possible match has been made in the adoption registry.
The entire bill is here.
The relevant part reads:
7.] If, within three months, the child-placing agency or juvenile court personnel reports to the court that it has notified the biological parent pursuant to subsection 5 of this section, the court shall receive the identifying information from the child-placing agency. If an affidavit duly executed by a biological parent authorizing the release of information is filed with the court or fails to file an affidavit with the court, the court shall disclose the identifying information as to that biological parent to the adopted adult, provided that the other biological parent either:
(1) Is unknown;
(2) Is known but cannot be found and notified pursuant to section 5 of this act;
(3) Is deceased; or
(4) Has filed with the court an affidavit authorizing release of identifying information or fails to file an affidavit with the court. If the biological parent [fails or refuses to file] files an affidavit with the court [authorizing] refusing to authorize the release of identifying information, then the identifying information shall not be released to the adopted adult. No additional request for the same or substantially the same information may be made within three years of the time the biological parent fails or refuses to file an affidavit authorizing the release of identifying information.
The bill is promoted by Missouri Open Records Effort (MORE) and AAC member Carolyn Pooler. I don’t see a webpage for MORE, but its Facebook page is here. Two years ago Pooler caused a big stir when she got into it with Rep. Rep. Connie “LaJoyce” Johnson, sponsor of that year’s attempt, and Johnson pulled the plug. Pooler may very well have had good reason to disagree with Johnson, but unfortunately she failed (as far as I can tell) to ever inform Missourians what it was. So did Johnson.
Then there is current sponsor, lame duck Cynthia Davis. Here is her wiki profile.
Davis made national news in June 2009 when she attacked a state-funded summer lunch subsidy for poor children (1 in 5 Missouri children fall below the poverty line) claiming that “hunger can be a positive motivator” for getting people to find jobs and that meal programs “could break apart more families.” After lecturing her constituents on the benefits of nutritious home-cooked meals, she suggested that older children get a job at McDonald’s to scarf up free food. Later Davis attempted to backtrack, claiming she’d been misquoted, but her quotes came from her own newsletter.
Here are editorial responses from the Warrensburg Daily-Star-Journal, and StLouisToday.com (St. Louis Post Dispatch) to this officious tightwaddery. Even the LA Times got into the act.
Missouri Democratic leadership demanded unsuccessfully Davis’ removal as chair of the Standing Committee on Children and Families
Keith Oberman gave Davis his Worst Person in the World Award (starts at 1:40) on June 22, 2009 calling her a “menace to society.”
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Stephen Colbert suggested that Davis’ political career hadn’t gone beyond the Missouri House due to the “anti-motivating habit of eating.” I tried to embed that video here, but it created havoc on formatting. You can find it here.
Then there’s sex!
Fired-Up Missouri treats us to a 2006 email Davis sent to a fellow Republican regarding sex, contraception, and the poor:
When I was listening to the debate last week I wondered what kind of man would want to enjoy free sex and then expect her to provide for her own contraceptives? These are the kind of men who want free whores. Any man who would be so low life as that does not deserve to have any woman love him. Smart women will stay away from men who use them and abuse them. Why is it that most of the e-mail letters I get on this topic is from men? I have concluded that the chemicals and drugs are their way to have all the goodies and not pay the price. When you encourage this behavior, you create more of it. In other words, if the state starts paying for contraceptives we will have more babies than if we just teach people to not expect free prostitution from poor people. Don’t you think having to pay child support for the next 18 years is a suitable disincentive?
Sound and respected sponsorship is absolutely essential in getting a records bill passed. Missouri Compromisers can’t even come up with that. Is this all bastards are worth? Let this bill rot in committee.
According to Missouri clean-records-bill leader Lindsay Woodside, (see FB page) Open Missouri and the Missouri Adult Adoptee Rights Coalition does not support HB 1237 as currently written. Neither does Bastard Nation.
So – how does this section make sense? The only issue I can see is “Missouri-born resident”
3. Upon receipt of a written application to the state registrar, any adopted person twenty-one years of age or older who is a Missouri-born resident of this state shall be issued a certified copy of his or her unaltered, original, and unamended certificate of birth in the custody of the state registrar, with procedures, filing fees, and waiting periods identical to those imposed upon nonadopted citizens of the state of Missouri. All copies issued under this subsection shall be stamped with the following: “NOT USABLE FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES”. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as violating the provisions of section 453.121.
It doesn’t. If a MO adoptee lives outside the state are they “allowed” access.
If the courts are still involved, it’s not an access bill. What’s the point? Adoptees will just be back again at the next earliest opportunity asking for their rights anyway–why not get it done right the first time? To me this isn’t a piece of reform legislation but just attempting to solidify and provide policy for a system already in place.
I don’t comment often, but I am very interested in doing some in person work at the Missouri capitol regarding changing this bill. Could you please email me some info about the things (concerning this bill) most adoptee rights groups would like to see changed? I have not done this before so I would love any direction you could provide. I plan to go to the capitol Monday of Tuesday this week. You can email me at [email protected]
I’m going to try to contact a couple of these “legs” this week and suggest some brand new language that I’m pretty sure they can understand! Basically, the ‘bill’ should read:
“Anyone who was born in the State of Missouri (or any state) is allowed, upon receipt of a written request and the appropriate filing fees, an authentic, seal-stamped copy of their original birth certificate.”
I don’t know why it has to be anymore complicated than that. These people with their college education and ten dollar words are only trying to impress themselves. I’m tired of being patronized and talked down to when it comes to this, or any other, issue.