The two big states this legislative session are still New York and Florida, though bills in Florida now appear all but dead. Connecticut may see a bill introduced during the short legislative session, and Massachusetts is still hanging on to the chance for passage of clean legislation that would remove date-based restrictions. Here’s the latest legislative update, with sessions just getting started, in full swing, or about to adjourn.
Adoptee Rights Law Center has partnered with three other organizations to form the New York Adoptee Rights Coalition, a coalition pursuing clean and equality-based legislation in New York. Seven bills are currently active, though four bills are companion sets or “same as” bills introduced in both the New York assembly and senate. NYARC supports the “Avella Bill” and has issued a statement endorsing that bill. Members of NYARC are also on Governor Cuomo’s work group that is set to meet in early March to study the issue and to make recommendations. More information is available on the NYARC website, and I encourage people to sign up to pitch in and help.
Two sets of companion bills are active though both sets are ostensibly controlled by Florida Representative Richard Stark. The bills appear all but dead, with a key committee in the Florida house failing to take them up and the short session ending in mid-March. I’ve written about the status of these bills in Florida, and most advocates for clean legislation have concluded that now is not the time for introducing or pursuing bills in Florida. Sixteen organizations and most adoptees are also opposed to HB357/SB576, the badly drafted bill that contains a 40-year waiting requirement for adoptees before being able to request the OBC.
Connecticut is in a short session, which means no bills can be introduced unless they are first raised by committee. The latest news, however, is that the Joint Committee on Judiciary has agreed to consider a bill, and one will likely be introduced soon. You won’t see it on the interactive map below until the bill is introduced. The Connecticut legislative session ends on May 9.
Probably one of the simplest OBC access bill ever—coming in at just fourteen words—this is still languishing in a key committee, despite efforts of OBC for Massachusetts to dislodge it and get it to a floor vote. The bill would strike out the following words from the current Massachusetts statute: “on or before July 17, 1974” and “on or after January 1, 2008.” With those fourteen words—most of those being dates and the articles “or” or “on”— it assures equality for all adult adoptees in Massachusetts and would make Massachusetts the tenth state to go clean.
Representative Don Phillips, who brought Missouri adoptees the disastrous “Missouri Adoptee Rights Act,” has introduced a pair of strange bills that are hard to figure out. I analyzed them as best I could under the title “What the Missouri Is Going On?” The two bills are currently in committee and no further action has been taken. The Missouri legislature adjourns on May 30.
Others: Iowa, Mississippi, North Carolina, Minnesota
Mississippi had yet another bill that required adoptees to wait forty years before requesting the OBC. That bill died in committee just 15 days after it was introduced. North Carolina still has a bill pending with the same 40-year waiting period as Mississippi and Florida, but with the added requirement that the adoptee know the identities of birth parents before being able to obtain the OBC. It has been sitting in a senate committee since April 2017 and looks dead. Iowa tried another shot at a clean bill, which was introduced recently but contained provisions that corrupted the contact preference form and turned it into an instrument that would prohibit the disclosure of the OBC if a birthparent did not file a CPF. Minnesota’s on-and-off complicated OBC bill will carry over to the upcoming short session, which begins this week, but it is not expected to advance. Rumor in Minnesota as well is that a clean bill will be drafted and hopefully introduced next session after mid-term election results and potential legislative leadership changes are known.
The full status of all pending bills—as well as laws that have been enacted but are still awaiting full implementation—are reflected in the following interactive map. More maps are available here.
2018 Legislative Action