FISCAL NOTE

Date Requested: January 17, 2019
Time Requested: 12:02 PM
Agency: Health and Human Resources, WV Department of
CBD Number: Version: Bill Number: Resolution Number:
2053 Introduced SB300
CBD Subject: Domestic Relations


FUND(S):

5144 - VITAL STATISTICS ACCOUNT

Sources of Revenue:

Special Fund

Legislation creates:

Creates New Expense, Creates New Program



Fiscal Note Summary


Effect this measure will have on costs and revenues of state government.


    The purpose of SB300 is to revise current law as it relates to access to adoption records by adoptees. The Bill authorizes adult adoptees access to certain records; requires birth parents to provide certain health information at the time of adoption; allows birth parents to designate a contact; and directs the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to administer collection of records, require additional information, and charge a reasonable fee for copies of records. The Bill also provides a procedure for collecting and disseminating information and authorizes DHHR to promulgate legislative rules needed to administer the program.
    
    The Department estimates the cost for this legislation to be $124,635 for FY2020 and $115,735 going forward.



Fiscal Note Detail


Effect of Proposal Fiscal Year
2019
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
2020
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
Fiscal Year
(Upon Full
Implementation)
1. Estmated Total Cost 0 124,635 115,735
Personal Services 0 110,535 110,535
Current Expenses 0 8,100 5,200
Repairs and Alterations 0 0 0
Assets 0 6,000 0
Other 0 0 0
2. Estimated Total Revenues 0 24,000 24,000


Explanation of above estimates (including long-range effect):


    The estimated $110,535 in Personal Services for FY2020 and ongoing is for a Health and Human Resources Specialist Senior to operate the Adoption Registry and an Office Assistant III to provide clerical assistance. It is important to note that the proposed legislation will also require assistance from existing Vital Registration staff at no additional cost. Included in this estimated Personal Services cost are salaries in the amount of $73,590 for 1.00 FTE HHR Specialist Senior ($44,412) and 1.00 FTE Office Assistant III ($29,178); and Fringes and Benefits in the amount of $36,945. Fringes and Benefits include Public Employees Health Insurance Administrative Fees of $100 ($50 per employee x 2 FTEs); Personnel Administrative Fee of $360 ($180 per FTE x 2 FTE); Health Insurance of $18,912 ($9,456 per FTE x 2 FTEs); Social Security of $5,630 ($73,590 x .0765); Retirement of $7,359 ($73,590 x .10); Workers Compensation of $192 ($73,590 x .00261); and WV OPEB Contribution of $4,392 ($2,196 per FTE x 2 FTEs).
    
    The estimated Current Expenses for FY2020 and ongoing is $5,200 and include landline telephone service at $1,200 ($50 per month x 12 months x 2.00 FTEs); dedicated fax line at $600 ($50 per month x 12 months); office supplies at $400 ($200 per FTE x 2.00 FTEs); and form printing costs at $3,000. One time current expenses of $2,900 include computer equipment at $2,000 ($1,000 x 2.00 FTEs); fax machine at $400; and network printer at $500. One time equipment costs include microfilm viewer at $6,000.
    
    It is estimated that the Department could receive 2,000 requests in the first and second years after implementation. The proposed legislation includes a fee of no more than the current fee charged for each non-certified original birth certificate issued which is $12.00. Should this bill pass with an effective date of July 1, 2019, estimated revenue for FY2020 and ongoing fiscal years is $24,000 per year (2,000 requests x $12 per request). Even though it is difficult to fully estimate costs of implementing and operating a new program of this nature, it is clear that the $12 fee specified in this proposed legislation for maintaining the current system and issuing non-certified copies will not cover associated expenditure costs of the program.



Memorandum


    The proposed legislation will impact the Department's Vital Registration Office in the Bureau for Public Health. It creates a new Code section, §48-22-803. Vital has several concerns surrounding this proposed legislation.
    
    Proposed section §48-22-803 (a) allows adult adoptees and their lineal descendants to make applications to access adoption files. It appears that a lineal descendant can make a request with or without approval of a deceased adult adoptee. Additionally, it is not clear if the use of the term "descendants" requesting adoption file information are lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.) or any descendants (nephews, nieces, etc.) and whether they must be adults themselves.
    
    Proposed section §48-22-803 (b) (c) allows biological parents the opportunity to signal their intention that the adoptee, once an adult, can obtain identifying information. However, it also allows the biological parent to indicate that identifying information contained in the adoption file be redacted before it is released.
    
    Proposed section §48-22-803 (b) allows biological parents opportunities to indicate their preferences for future contact by adult adoptees or their lineal descendants and offers options for the contact. However, §48-22-803 does not include language prohibiting adoptees from making contact regardless of the biological parents' preferences if they are provided non-redacted information.
    
    Proposed section §48-22-803 (b) allows biological parents opportunities to add or revise information contained in the adoption file, including changes to social and medical history and preferences related to contact and release of identifying information. Adoption files are normally indexed or referenced under the name of the child after adoption, not before. A biological parent wishing to add or change information in an adoption file will need to provide the child's adopted name, which they usually do not know. An entirely new process for indexing adoption records will need to be implemented and maintained to meet the requirements of this provision.
    
    Proposed section §48-22-803 does not refer to the existing Mutual Consent Voluntary Adoption Registry, created under W.Va. Code §48-23-101, and administered by the Department's Bureau for Children and Families.
    
    Vital is uncertain if the intent of this proposed legislation is to start a process of creating an adoption file now for access 18 years into the future or if existing adoption information held by the State Registrar will also be impacted. Much of what is to be included in the adoption file under this proposed legislation, especially information related to medical and social history of biological parents, is absent. Contact information and biological parents' intention for release of identifying information or willingness to be contacted by the adult adoptee is also absent.
    
    It is important to note that not all adoption proceedings that take place in West Virginia courts are for children that are born in the State. Under this proposed legislation, there will be instances where an adoption file is created in West Virginia with no matching birth certificate. Conversely, not all adoptions of children born in West Virginia take place in the State. It is unlikely that another state will gather and transmit information to West Virginia.
    
    Based upon the bill passage date and any other verbiage added to this proposed legislation prior to the effective date, it is likely that revenue will be generated in FY2020 absent any challenges by affected parties (birth parents) that could delay implementation. Historically, challenges have occurred in some states that have opened adoption records. In other states, there were a large number of requests during the first few years after implementation with declining requests afterwards.
    
    No effective date is included in this proposed legislation. If the bill passes with an effective date of July 1, 2019, it is likely that the Program would start before Rules, as called for in the proposed legislation, are implemented.
    
    
    



    Person submitting Fiscal Note: Bill J. Crouch
    Email Address: Bill.J.Crouch@wv.gov