Illinois HB 4623, the compromise birth certificate bill that does not treat all adopted adults equally, has been revived to live another day.
A QUICK REVIEW
On March 13, 2008, HB 4623 whizzed through Sponsor Representative Feigenholtz’ Adoption Reform Committee by a vote of 8 -1. And just imagine! It was sent on to the House for a first reading on that very same day in March. In April, it had a short second reading. Now, according to the rules of the General Assembly, it was time for the bill to stand before the entire House of Representatives for a vote.
The bill received three different deadlines to come to the floor of the house for a vote and as each deadline rolled around, the bill received yet another extension. The third extension came on the last day of the official House Session, May 30th. But this time the bill was rereferred to the Rules Committee where according to House Rules it will remain potentially viable until the November veto session, when its sponsors are allowed to bring it back to the floor of the House for a vote.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
During this summer interval House rules allow sponsors to amend and alter the bill in any way they see fit in an effort to garner enough votes for passage. Summer is the time for negotiations, especially for contentious bills such as HB 4623. The politicians and their flunkies will not take the bill back to the public. Why should they? We already had our chance at the super speedy hearing held back in March.
This summer interval when the bill stays in the Rules Committee is like “Let’s Make a Deal.” I’ll vote for your bill if you vote for mine. Favors are called in and leverage is applied.
When a bill is rerefered to the Rules Committee, it does not need to go through any more committee hearings or any short House readings. HB 4623 may very well have been chopped to pieces and completely rewritten. But no matter. The bill can still go directly from Rules back to the floor of the house for a vote during the veto session. No more input or votes needed from committees. No more input needed from opponents or supporters. No more publicity needed!
Just schedule the bill and then vote as quickly and as quietly as you can.
This is all kosher, folks. It’s part of the Rules of the House of Representatives.
I continue to oppose HB 4623 because it is a compromise birth certificate bill. It does not treat all adopted adults equally. Some adoptees will get left behind. Of that I’m certain. And I’ll bet the farm that we won’t recognize any “new and improved” version of HB 4623 that comes through now. It won’t get better; it can only get worse.
I predict that there will be more restrictions and conditions added to the new and improved version of HB 4623. I predict confidentiality for birth mothers will be granted for longer time periods. This in turn would create even more tiers of adoptees who can or cannot request an original birth certificate. And I also predict that birth mothers will be granted even wider powers and more options for preventing the state from issuing an original birth certificate to adoptees.
SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
A little bit of schmoozing with lawmakers during the summer may pay dividends when the November Veto Session comes around.
“It will not always be summer: build barns.”… Hesiod
Many state offices are now dark. Everybody down in Springfield has gone fishing or they’re out on the golf course. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t working. Almost all of the members of our House Representatives keep an office open year round in their hometowns and here is where you can reach them during the summer recess. Plan to contact your representative. You’re a constituent, after all!
Telephone for an appointment. When you meet your representative find out what her or his position is on adoptee rights in general and on HB 4623 in particular. Exchange viewpoints. Look for some common ground. It helps any negotiations when you can first find some part of the bill upon which you can both agree.
Just keep your goal in mind. You’re there to remind your representative about the failure of HB 4623 to address the rights of all adopted adults. Explain how the bill compromises our rights. Tell your rep what a true adoptee birth certificate bill should be like. Urge him or her to vote NO to HB 4623 in the veto session so that next year we can write a true adoptee birth certificate bill; one which will unseal original birth certificates for all adopted adults, unconditionally and upon request. Also, be sure to leave some literature about the bill. A single page Bullet Point Sheet is good.
If making a personal visit to your representative doesn’t work for you, why not try a telephone conversation. Ask for a few minutes when he or she has time to chat with a constituent. Follow the same guidelines as above. Then follow up by mailing him or her some printed material.
If you prefer to communicate with your rep by mail, then by all means, go ahead and write. But please remember to keep it short and sweet. Long and detailed personal histories and pages of explanations about HB 4623 will probably be sentenced to the shredder. Very few legislators want to wade through some lengthy legislative packet, beautiful and informative as you know it to be.
Write to the media. Any time is a good time to get your opinions into the newspapers. Most of us who write may never see our letters in print. But if even one of us gets a letter into one newspaper – just think of how many people you are reaching. So I urge everyone to write to their local newspapers because your letter could be that “one.” Watch your newspapers for any sort of related adoption stories. Often you can piggyback on them. These articles can be your foot in the door.
And while you’re at it, why not write to lots of the state representatives.
And don’t forget to blog, blog, blog.
It’s not over till the fat lady sings. And this fat lady ain’t singin’!