Heir Finders are Professional Genealogists that Texas 2009 SB 1243 wants to Regulate
Heir Finders do genealogy research which is gaining information derived from public and private records, an excluded work activity set by current Texas Law: “Chapter 1702 under subchapter N–“§ 1702.324. CERTAIN OCCUPATIONS…(b) This chapter does not apply to: 5) a person who: (A) is engaged in obtaining information that is a public record under Chapter 552, Government Code, regardless of whether the person receives compensation;” Heir Finders do not do security work as currently defined by Texas Statue 1702.
To conduct business and provide their services, Heir Finders do genealogy research in public and private records, no matter how much they charge, or how they charge, or who they charge, or how they got the job to look for the heir in the first place. They do genealogy research to find the heir. SB 1243 wants to change the rules and definition of private security work occupation to include heir finders (someone who does genealogy research.)
My concern is, because Heir Finders do what we do, ie: genealogy research, they are professional genealogists as is now constituted in our “quasi- profession” of both self appointed and professionally designated practitioners. And what is to stop some legislator in the future from calling the rest of us professional genealogists in this quasi profession: heir finders in the security occupation?
I think this heir finder regulation is only one of many such efforts that have happened or will happen in attempts to regulate our practice of professional genealogy research services. I still say we need to organize as a profession with rules of qualifying membership including education, training, experience, and so on. We need to make this move from quasi to sovereign profession. That is the only way we can institute best practices and standards, and protect our profession; and root out the bad practitioners and bad practices.
Submitted by Mary E. Petty, B.A. (History), B.A. (Genealogy)
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