Bill will make access to vital records easier

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By Sen. Steve Newman
District 23

    With fewer than 30 days before the 2013 General Assembly session is scheduled to end, things are moving briskly at the Capitol.   With the deadline for submitting bills now passed, we know just how much legislation will have to be considered during this year’s session.
    Senators filed 682 bills while the Delegates in the House filed 1,042.  As was the case for the 2012 session, the average Senator filed 17 bills, even though this year’s session is two weeks shorter than last year’s.  The Senate has until February 5, known as Crossover, to act on the bills filed by its members.  Clearly, the legislative process will have to move at a very brisk pace just to keep up with the high volume of bills for this “short” session.
    As Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, many measures that I review have to do with the operations of Virginia’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  Last session, I championed some measures to create a framework that would allow individuals to obtain vital records – like birth, death, and marriage certificates – through their hometown DMV offices.
    I know from my service in the Senate that obtaining these vital records easily frustrates those of us who reside far from Richmond.  Constituents who needed these records have voiced their concerns to my office through the years, expressing dismay at the difficulty of obtaining these records without either making an expensive and time-consuming trip to Richmond or paying expensive overnight delivery fees to get them in a reasonable period of time.
    Senate Bill 1039 builds on the preparation I made last year and will give citizens convenient access to their vital records without unnecessary added costs.  The bill would allow access to vital records through the DMV by October of this year, and allow the DMV to issue certified copies of those records by July of 2014.  This would mean that instead of waiting days until you receive vital records you may need immediately, you’ll be able to obtain them quickly and conveniently without compromising the security of these important legal documents.
    The bill has received a warm reception so far, having yet to receive a single negative vote on its way through the Senate’s committee system.  If all goes well, it will be approved by the Senate and head to the House of Delegates for consideration in a matter of days.
    I’ve worked closely with DMV Commissioner Rick Holcomb over the last year to make this convenient, consumer-friendly change a reality.  Noting the ongoing efforts to make the DMV a more efficient, consumer-oriented operation, he remarked, “Senator Newman’s legislation will further enhance the DMV’s role as the primary destination for those who need services provided by state government.  By providing this essential service, we will be adding value and convenience for our customers, the people of Virginia.”
    The federal Martin Luther King holiday brings throngs to the Capitol every year.  This year was no exception.  Many visitors came to discuss issues such as 2nd Amendment Rights, advocates for the handicapped, doctors, business groups, education and more.  We were pleased to welcome Virginia Recreational Facilities Authority board members to Richmond.  They visited to speak on behalf of my SB1283 which I introduced to assist the operations of Explore Park. 
    With less than two weeks remaining until the Crossover deadline, next week is likely to be very hectic.  I’ll have a complete report on the progress of important legislation, including my own.
    Until then, have a great week.
(Staff of Senate Republican Caucus contributed to this report.)