Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie organized a Notary Public Study Group to examine Minnesota’s statutes regulating notarial acts and to develop recommendations on potential changes the Minnesota Legislature should consider making to our laws.
The Notary Public Study Group included representatives from a variety of organizations including state and local government representatives, the judiciary, legal and banking/mortgage interests, notaries public organizations and other groups who provide or rely on notarial services.
The Study Group agreed upon recommendations amending Minnesota Statutes 358 and 359, which has been introduced in the House as HF 4226. The proposed legislation can be found by clicking here.
To view the document containing all of the Study Groups Findings and Recommendations click here.
Interested parties are invited to click here to comment on the proposed legislation through a Website survey tool. These comments will be considered by the 2009 Legislature.
House File 4226 - Notary Study Group Recommended Changes to Notary Laws
Section 1M.S. 357.021
Transfers collection of $80 of the $100 fee currently received by the county for recording the commission. The $80 is currently forwarded by the county to the commissioner of finance. In section 6, the secretary of state is directed to collect this $80 fee and forward it to the commissioner of finance along with the $40 application fee collected by the secretary of state for processing the notary certificate.
Comment: The current process is confusing to notaries because the state collects a fee and the county collects both a state and county fee. This will consolidate all state fees at the state with no change in overall state or county revenue.
Section 2M.S. 357.171
Set the maximum fee that can be collected by a notary public at $5.
Comment: The current fee of $1 is felt to be insufficient to recover the costs to the notary in providing his or her service. This would allow them to charge a higher amount, but does provide for a cap of $5.
Section 3M.S. 358.15
Establishes the format which city and county officials must use in their capacity as an ex-officio notary public for authenticating official acts and also provides that certain ex-officio notaries must use an official notarial stamp in conjunction with the authentication.
Comment: The current law gives no direction to city and county officials on how to authenticate a document and the change would give that direction. In addition, without having a seal on the authentication, it is often confusing to recipients of the documents as to the authority that the authenticator has to act in that capacity. It was felt that a stamp would clarify the official nature of the ex-officio notary’s act.
Section 4M.S. 358.47
Clarifies that the name on the official notarial stamp, the jurat /certification and the signature of the notary must all be the same. Requires that the certificate of the notarial act must be in English.
Comment: In some cases it has been observed that the notary signs the jurat/certification using a nickname or other abbreviation of the name they have on the stamp which causes some confusion if it is not apparent that the two names are the same.
The section also deals with the problem that exists when a notary is asked a jurat/certification in a language he or she cannot read. This change would make it clear that the jurat/certification, not the document itself, must be in English in order for him or her to be able to complete it properly.
Section 5M.S. 359.01
Expands the ability for all qualified people from adjoining states to apply for appointment and serve as a notary public in Minnesota rather than limiting it to those from adjoining counties in those adjoining states. Provides that these adjoining state residents must designate a Minnesota county in which to record their Minnesota notary commission.
Comment: Increases the number of people an employer can consider for service as a notary public in their operation to include people who are commuting from an adjoining state but live further away than an adjoining county. Makes it clear where they must record their notary certificate in these cases.
Section 6M.S. 359.01
Directs the secretary of state to collect the $80 filing fee deleted in section 1 which is currently collected by the county and forwarded to the commissioner of finance. Makes clear that the secretary of state also forwards the fee to the commissioner.
Section 7M.S. 359.01
Requires all applicants for a notary commission to authorize a criminal background check which the commissioner of commerce will request if he or she determines one is necessary and provides a citation for the authority the commissioner has to deny an application.
Comment: This section is included to have a specific reference to the authority which the commissioner of commerce has in the area of notary public qualification and regulation.
Section 8M.S. 359.02
Makes clear a notaries public commission is valid until January 31 of the fifth year after it is issued and expands the period for renewal to six months prior to expiration from the current two months. Provides that a renewal is valid even if a new governor takes office between the time the application is submitted and the new commission takes effect on January 31st.
Comment: Clarifies the period of time the commission is issued for and expands the period of time to apply prior to the expiration date.
Section 9M.S. 359.03
Requires certain ex-officio notaries to obtain a stamp similar to a notary public stamp to seal documents and oaths they have witnessed. Provides that a notarial stamp and journal are the personal property of the notary.
Comment: Currently when an ex-officio notary completes a jurat/certification it is sometimes unclear to the recipient of the document the authority which the authenticator has to take that action. This change will reduce that problem and also simplify the process for the issuance of Apostilles and certifications for documents being sent to a foreign country.
Clarifies the notary’s rights regarding the stamp and the journal so as to minimize the misuse of those tools.
Section 10M.S. 359.03
Provides the specifications for a notarial stamp to be used by a notary public or ex-officio notary and makes it clear that the image of the stamp must be legibly reproducible.
Comment: This section is primarily a simplification of exiting requirements and an expansion of the description of the stamp to include the new stamp for an ex-officio notary.
Section 11M.S. 359.03
Provides the requirements for affixing an electronic seal to an electronic document.
Comment: This section makes the electronic requirements more consistent with those for paper notarization.
Section 12M.S. 359.061
Clarifies that certain counties have designated an alternative office than the court administrator for recording notary commissions pursuant to the authority found in M.S. 485.27. Requires Minnesota notaries with an adjoining state residency to record the commission with the county they have specified in the application. Provides for a fee and certificate format for the county to use in certifying to the official acts of a notary.
Comment: This section is included to have a specific reference to the authority which the county has to assign the duties of the court administrator to other departments, makes clear where an out-of-state notary files and gives specific direction on how to certify to official acts of a notary and what to charge for that act.
Section 13M.S. 359.091
Provides specific directions and authorities for a notary public to use in accommodating a person who has a demonstrable inability to sign in writing, make a mark or communicate verbally or in writing.
Comment: Current law has general provisions in Chapter 645.44, subd. 14 for situations where a person has limitations and this new section in the notary laws would give specific directions about the actions the notary should/may take in dealing with these situations.
Section 14M.S. 359.12
Clarifies the process for removal of a notary by the commissioner of commerce and requires the return of a notary stamp in the event of the removal from office of the notary.
Comment: Makes it clear that the commissioner being described is the commissioner of commerce and provides for the authority to have the stamp turned in.
Section 15357.17 & 359.05
Repeals the current language relating to the notary fees and repeals the directions on how to affix the stamp and jurat/certification language to a document.
Comment: The new fee is now provided for in section 2 and the old fee is repealed. The directions were thought to be duplicative.
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