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Hawaii Democrats Propose Charging Fee to View Obama Birth Certificate


There is a birth certificate; there isn't a birth certificate.

The debate has been raging for months and months, but legislators in Hawaii -- the state at the center of the controversy surrounding the birth record of America's 44th president -- are taking a new entrepreneurial track in their latest attempt to end the dispute.

A new bill introduced in the state legislature would make President Barack Obama's birth records available for anyone who wants to see them -- if they are willing to pay the fee.

In exchange for a $100, the bill's supporters hope access to the documents will finally dispel claims he was born elsewhere.  The Associated Press reports:

The bill would change a privacy law barring the release of birth records unless the requester is someone with a tangible interest, such as a close family member.  The measure was introduced by five Democrats but has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing, a required step before it can move forward. A decision on considering the bill will be made by the House's Democratic leadership and committee chairmen.

The idea behind the measure is to end skepticism over Obama's birthplace while raising a little money for a government with a projected budget deficit exceeding $800 million over the next two years.

"If it passes, it will calm the birthers down," said the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Rida Cabanilla. "All these people are still doubting it because they don't want the birth certificate from Obama. They want it from our state office." ...

The new legislation to release records may run into similar legal problems because of Hawaii's strong constitutional privacy protections, said Rep. John Mizuno, a co-sponsor of the bill.

"If people really want to confirm Barack Obama is born in Hawaii, that's fine," Mizuno said. "I don't have a problem with looking at innovative ways to bring revenue to the state. The taxpayers deserve a break."

The $100 fee would help offset the extra work by state employees who handle frequent phone calls and e-mails from people who believe Obama was born elsewhere, Cabanilla said.

But the number of birther requests has been declining from the 10 to 20 weekly inquiries received early last year, according to the Department of Health.

"Requests have decreased significantly over the years. Currently we receive anywhere from zero to five per week," said department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

The Health Department is still reviewing the bill, Okubo said.

House Health Committee Chairman Ryan Yamane didn't immediately return messages seeking comment on whether he would hold a hearing on the bill.

Click here to view the legislation.

Closing questions: Doesn't the existence of the xerox machines render the $100 fee pointless?

Also, Gov. Abercrombie has said these records are private and making them public would violate Obama's right to privacy.  Why would it be okay to legislate away a single person's right to privacy?

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