Longietti, Sainato formally request restoration of public services

HARRISBURG, Jan. 23 – Restoration of public services at the New Castle Division of Vital Records, such as the ability to obtain birth and death certificates, is the objective of a letter state Reps. Mark Longietti and Chris Sainato sent to the top Pennsylvania Health Department official.

Sainato, D-Lawrence, and Longietti, D-Mercer, asked Dr. Rachel Levine, the department’s acting secretary, to reconsider the administrative decision, noting it was announced late last year with no input from them or the public.

“The process by which this change to the Division of Vital Records policy was implemented ignored our voices and the voices of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians in Lawrence and Mercer counties,” wrote the state representatives. “Our voice wasn’t asked for, and we had no opportunity to be heard.”

Unless the change is reversed, they noted that residents of the counties they represent will have to travel 60 to 90 minutes to Pittsburgh to obtain vital records like birth certificates in person, at an office possibly overburdened with additional workload.

Timely access to vital records has never been more important, Sainato and Longietti wrote, noting the Real ID Act requires the presentation of certain records, including birth certificates, to acquire compliant driver’s licenses and other essential forms of identification.

“Creating barriers to those documents for the residents of the New Castle area is simply incompatible with our shared goals of reigniting a thriving economy and closing the widening socioeconomic gaps between our urban centers and our more rural communities,” the representatives wrote to Levine. “We ask you to reconsider the decision to end direct public service at the Division of Vital Records in New Castle, and we implore you to seek out and listen to the voices of Pennsylvanians who will be impacted by future decisions of this type.”