Jan. 31, 2011 -- Five Hawaii Democratic state legislators have introduced a bill that would allow anyone seeking an original, certified copy of Barack Obama's birth record to obtain one -- for $110.
The measure, introduced in the state legislature last week, would change a state law that currently limits the release of vital documents to persons with a "direct and tangible interest," such as family members.
"I'm hoping that it will also reduce the number of calls that we get and calm the birthers down," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Rida Cabanilla, in an interview. "It may to a certain extent reduce the conspiracy theories, but at least the fee might reduce the number of frivolous calls asking for explanations about why a copy cannot be released."
The Obama campaign released an electronic copy of his "certification of live birth" in 2008. But it didn't quiet skeptics who insist, without evidence, that Obama was born in Kenya. They have flooded phone lines at Hawaii's health department with hundreds of requests for access to original documents.
The certified copy lists the date, hour and location of Obama's birth, as well as the names and races of his parents. It includes an embossed seal of authenticity from the Department of Health, according to images posted online.
Cabanilla's bill would allow anyone to receive a physical copy of that certification for a fee.
"It's costing us an incredible amount of time and resources to field these requests and explain to people what the law says," Cabanilla said. "The fee would also help us raise some cash to close our state budget deficit."
He has conducted his own investigation and recently attested that the original, hand-notated record of Obama's birth exists in state archives.
Gov. Abercrombie Attests to Obama Birth
The long-form birth certificate for President Obama, which has not yet been made public, contains the name of the hospital and the doctor, the doctor's signature, the baby's birth weight, and the national origin of the parents.
"Our investigation is showing it actually exists in the archives written down," Gov. Abercrombie told Honolulu's Star-Advertiser earlier this month. "What I can do, and all I have ever said, is that I am going to see to it as governor that I can verify to anyone who is honest about it that this is the case."
Abercrombie, a friend of Obama's late parents, has described in several recent interviews a personal, emotional interest in ending the so-called birther debate.
"It's an emotional insult. It is disrespectful to the president; it is disrespectful to the office," Abercrombie said of the controversy to the New York Times. "There's no reason on earth to have the memory of his parents insulted by people whose motivation is solely political. ... Let's put this particular canard to rest."
But doing that could be much easier said than done. Some birthers say they won't suspend disbelief until the long-form original is released.
"Those records are very fragile and are kept in a state vault. They shouldn't be released or exposed to the elements," said Cabanilla. "We're hoping providing people access to the certified copy will quiet them down."
The new legislation to release birth certifications would need a public hearing before it moves on to a vote. Cabanilla said she has asked the state attorney general for an opinion on whether her idea would violate federal law or the state constitution.
Fourteen percent of Americans say, without prompting, that they think Obama was born in another country, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.
But for many, it's not a firm belief, and some appear not to hold it against him, the poll shows.