In an attempt to end the "birther" myth that President Obama was not born in the United States (and thus not qualified to serve as president), five Democrats on the Hawaii state legislature have introduced a bill that would allow anyone to obtain a copy of President Obama's birth records for a $100 fee.
"If it passes, it will calm the birthers down," said Rep. Rida Cabanilla, the bill's primary sponsor, the Associated Press reports. "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 measure would alter a state privacy law that limits the release of state birth records to those with a tangible interest in the matter, such as a close relative of the person for whom the records were requested. It would also help the state close its budget deficit.
The "birther movement," questioning Mr. Obama's origins, began during his presidential campaign. It has steadily persisted through Mr. Obama's presidency, in spite of overwhelming evidence he was born in the United States -- including his 1961 birth announcement, printed in two Hawaii newspapers.
Early last year, the state would receive as many as 10 to 20 requests per week for a copy of the president's birth records, though the state's Department of Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino reportedly said that the requests came largely from the same four to six people. Then-Republican Gov. Linda Lingle subsequentlyto allow state officials to ignore duplicative requests for the birth records.
Since then, requests for Mr. Obama's birth records have dropped from zero to five per week, the AP reports.
Hawaii's new Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who was a friend of Mr. Obama's parents when they lived in Hawaii, said last month he wouldto put the matter to rest. That effort was thwarted, however, because of the state's privacy laws -- an problem the new legislation may have as well.
Yet Rep. John Mizuno, a co-sponsor of the bill, told the AP that if people really want to verify the president's birth, "that's fine."
"I don't have a problem with looking at innovative ways to bring revenue to the state," he said.