Emailing Virginia

Fixing the addresses

Yesterday, The Legal Genealogist asked readers to join the Virginia Genealogical Society in asking the Legislature there to amend a law that has had the unforeseen effect of closing off public access to important court records that are, in many cases, more than 100 years old.1

emailThat blog post — read it here — explained that permits to carry a concealed weapon have been public records, included in court order books, since the 1800s in Virginia. In 2013, the Virginia Legislature passed a law to make information about those concealed weapons permits private — but didn’t include a time limit.2

So the bill — designed to keep criminals from getting information about people who own guns today — has resulted in a major loss of access even to records from long, long ago.

A bill to add a five-year time limit is now pending in the Legislature and could come up for a first consideration as early as today, and the Virginia Genealogical Society has asked us all for our support for 2014 VA HB 100 offered by Virginia Delegate Scott Lingamfelter.

Those of us with Virginia roots can explain how this bill hurts us personally, and those who may not be as closely involved in Virginia research can still add their voice with this message:

The message we want to get across is our own variation on the following that we can use as a model:

Dear Delegate:

I urge you to support HB 100 of Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, now before the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. This bill will cure an unintended consequence of prior legislation which has denied researchers access to Virginia historical public records going back to the 1700’s.

The Library of Virginia has had to withdraw 222 reels of microfilm from research access. Local clerks have been compelled to deny researchers access to county order books and indices from the 1800’s.

Please cure this barrier to genealogical and historical research in Virginia by passing HB100.

Unfortunately, both the blog post and the email version of the blog post turned the email addresses of the legislators assigned to the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee into code that many readers couldn’t use.

So if you were one of those readers, and didn’t join in this important fight because of the address issue, here’s another try at a list of the Delegates on the committee to contact to urge them to support HB 100. What you’ll need to do is copy and paste the paragraph into a text editor and then replace the (at) characters with the at symbol — @. THEN copy and paste the paragraph into your email program address box.

DelALopez(at)house.virginia.gov; DelBCline(at)house.virginia.gov; DelBFowler(at)house.virginia.gov; DelCHead(at)house.virginia.gov; DelEFiller-Corn(at)house.virginia.gov; DelIOQuinn(at)house.virginia.gov; DelJEdmunds(at)house.virginia.gov; DelJMorefield(at)house.virginia.gov; DelKKory(at)house.virginia.gov; DelMBerg(at)house.virginia.gov; DelMFariss(at)house.virginia.gov; DelMSimon(at)house.virginia.gov; DelMWebert(at)house.virginia.gov; DelNRush(at)house.virginia.gov; DelPHope(at)house.virginia.gov; DelRMorris(at)house.virginia.gov; DelRTyler(at)house.virginia.gov; DelSSurovell(at)house.virginia.gov; DelTGilbert(at)house.virginia.gov; DelTWilt(at)house.virginia.gov; DelTWright(at)house.virginia.gov

And if that doesn’t work… let me know and I’ll try, try again! Having all of our voices heard in favor of open public records is too important to be defeated by a coding glitch!


SOURCES

  1. Judy G. Russell, “Virginia call to arms,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 15 Jan 2014 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 16 Jan 2014).
  2. Chapter 659, 2013 Acts of Assembly of Virginia, Virginia Legislative Information System (http://lis.virginia.gov : accessed 25 Aug 2013).
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12 Responses to Emailing Virginia

  1. Ange says:

    As a resident within the district of one of the above delegates, I’ve spent some time this morning writing a very personal email. I mentioned my university history prof who used those very index microfilms to find data for his doctoral dissertation [on colonial life] back in the 1970s. Sure hope my message wasn’t too late…

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      It sure won’t be too late, Ange. This won’t happen overnight in any case, so we all should have a chance to be heard.

  2. J. Paul Hawthorne says:

    Did it!

  3. Sharon E says:

    Hi Judy,

    When I rec’d a nice note from Delegate Webert’s staff, I sent back an email telling why this legislation is so important to family historians/genealogists, from a personal point of view and giving permission to Delegate Webert to read the note to the committee. This is the reply I rec’d.

    Dear Sharon,

    Thank you for including this information. We have seen quite a large outpouring of support for this legislation. I am happy to pass this along to Delegate Webert for his review. At this time, he favors the legislation.

    Best,
    Nick Blessing
    Legislative Director
    Delegate Michael Webert

  4. Charlsey says:

    I received a response from Delegate Webert’s office also. Please keep us informed of any progress.
    Thank you for taking the lead.

    Charlsey

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      We won in the Assembly Committee but need support now in the Senate. There’s a post up today on contacting the Senate committee members.

  5. Angela Morrison says:

    Isn’t this is a clear violation of the Freedom of Information Act?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      I sure wish it was! No, these are state records so they’re covered only by state law, not the federal Freedom of Information Act. And although Virginia has its own Freedom of Information Act, it is allowed to exempt records from public access and chose to do so with these records. And the US Supreme Court isn’t being helpful here at all — it recently held that a state can limit its freedom of information act to its own residents and nobody else!

  6. Angela Morrison says:

    So much for federal law trumping state then.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      It only trumps state laws on certain subjects. Minor little matter of the 10th amendment (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively…”).

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