Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/31/2004 01:20 PM House JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 439 - OATHS; NOTARIES PUBLIC; STATE SEAL                                                                                   
[Contains  discussion  and  adoption  of an  amendment  making  a                                                               
provision of HB 439 conform to provisions of SB 203.]                                                                           
Number 1504                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 439, "An  Act relating  to the authority  to take                                                               
oaths, affirmations,  and acknowledgments in the  state; relating                                                               
to  notaries public;  relating to  fees for  issuing certificates                                                               
with  the  seal  of  the  state affixed;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."  [Before the committee was CSHB 439(STA).]                                                                     
Number 1530                                                                                                                     
ANNETTE  KREITZER,  Chief  of Staff,  Office  of  the  Lieutenant                                                               
Governor,  relayed  that  members' packets  contain  a  sectional                                                               
analysis  for CSHB  439(STA) and  a  two-page comparison  between                                                               
current  law and  CSHB 439(STA).    She explained  that when  the                                                               
current lieutenant  governor came  into office,  as his  chief of                                                               
staff,  she   researched  the  issue   of  what  could   be  done                                                               
differently  to serve  Alaska's  12,000  notaries public  better,                                                               
adding that  she'd looked at what  other states have done  and at                                                               
legislation proposed in prior years.                                                                                            
Number 1589                                                                                                                     
SCOTT CLARK, Notary Commission Administrator, Office of the                                                                     
Lieutenant Governor, added that the current notary statutes have                                                                
not been changed since 1961.                                                                                                    
MS. KREITZER presented CSHB 439(STA) as follows:                                                                                
     These  are the  highlights.    For the  qualifications,                                                                    
     we've  lowered the  minimum  age from  19  to 18  years                                                                    
     because we were  only one of two states that  had 19 as                                                                    
     an age.   So now, only  [in] Nebraska [do] you  have to                                                                    
     be 19-years-old to  be a notary - if  this bill passes.                                                                    
     The second issue  goes to whether or not  ... we wanted                                                                    
     to allow  felons to be  notaries, and  in conversations                                                                    
     with the  Department of  Corrections, their  advice was                                                                    
     ... [that] within  10 years of getting out  of jail, if                                                                    
     a felon  doesn't reoffend, then  they're likely  to not                                                                    
     offend again.   And so that has been put  into the bill                                                                    
     as  a qualification,  that an  applicant ...,  from the                                                                    
     time of  release from  prison, ...  can apply  10 years                                                                    
     later to be  a notary.  And in your  packet ... are ...                                                                    
     what  the felonies  consist of.  ... So  those are  two                                                                    
     changes on qualifications - major changes.                                                                                 
     We  looked at  whether or  not we  ought to  change the                                                                    
     terms  [of a]  notary public  - [it's]  four years;  we                                                                    
     haven't  changed that.   The  ...  $40 application  fee                                                                    
     stays  the  same.    There   is  an  increase  for  the                                                                    
     certificates, that  used to be  per folio, which  is an                                                                    
     outdated term not  used anymore; so now,  every time we                                                                    
     have to issue a certificate,  it will be $5 rather than                                                                    
     $3.   And that just goes  to the cost of  business from                                                                    
     1961 to today  - we're increasing it by $2.   We didn't                                                                    
     change the  amount of the  bond; however, we are  now -                                                                    
     thanks to  an amendment  by Representative  Gruenberg -                                                                    
     ... required to  keep copies of the bond  for 10 years,                                                                    
     which isn't a problem for us.                                                                                              
Number 1683                                                                                                                     
MS. KREITZER continued:                                                                                                         
     There are  two commission types:   ... notaries public,                                                                    
     and ...  limited governmental  notaries public.   We've                                                                    
     kept   that    distinction,   but    expanded   limited                                                                    
     governmental  notaries  public commissions  to  include                                                                    
     municipal and  federal employees  in addition  to state                                                                    
     employees.   And  we've  also said  that  you can  hold                                                                    
     concurrent commissions; if you  are a private citizen -                                                                    
     ... you're not doing this for  your job, you just do it                                                                    
     because you want  to be a good citizen and  be a notary                                                                    
     - you can  do that in addition to  holding a commission                                                                    
     as a  state employee or  a federal employee.   But when                                                                    
     you're acting as  a notary public in  your federal job,                                                                    
     you're not going to be  charging fees - you're going to                                                                    
     be  doing it  because in  the course  of your  business                                                                    
     that's  what  you're required  to  do.   As  a  private                                                                    
     citizen you  can be  a notary and  you can  charge fees                                                                    
     separate from  that ....   So that's one  little change                                                                    
     in the bill, is that  you now can hold those concurrent                                                                    
     commissions, but  they operate in parallel;  they don't                                                                    
     cross over.                                                                                                                
     There  is some  information  that we  wanted to  gather                                                                    
     from the  notaries to make  it easier  to go to  a more                                                                    
     web-based system working with  the 12,000 notaries, and                                                                    
     one of them  were e-mail addresses, but  we didn't want                                                                    
     to open up  notaries to spam, and so we  wanted to keep                                                                    
     that   information  confidential.     Everything   that                                                                    
     currently  is public  information about  notaries stays                                                                    
     public information;  we just wanted to  gather a little                                                                    
     bit more information so we  could communicate with them                                                                    
     more effectively.   And that's a quick  overview of the                                                                    
     bill  ...;  we'll  be glad  to  answer  any  questions.                                                                    
     There  is an  amendment  in your  packet  from us  that                                                                    
     would make our bill  consistent with the administrative                                                                    
     hearing  officer bill  [SB 203]  which  you amended  in                                                                    
     this committee previously.                                                                                                 
Number 1776                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE, after ascertaining that no one else wished to                                                                    
testify, closed public testimony on HB 439.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG noted that he has an amendment similar                                                                 
to the one that Ms. Kreitzer mentioned.                                                                                         
MS. KREITZER expressed a preference for the amendment prepared                                                                  
by Deborah Behr from Department of Law (DOL) labeled 23G-2,                                                                     
3/26/2004, (1:46 PM), which read:                                                                                               
     Page 16, following line 30:                                                                                                
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
        "*  Sec.   12.  AS  44.50.068(e)  is   repealed  and                                                                  
     reenacted to read:                                                                                                         
          (e) If the lieutenant governor finds that formal                                                                      
     disciplinary  action may  be warranted,  the lieutenant                                                                    
     governor  shall  refer  the matter  to  the  office  of                                                                    
     administrative hearings for a hearing."                                                                                    
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
     Page 17, line 25, following "Sec. 15.":                                                                                  
          Insert "(a)"                                                                                                          
     Page 17, following line 27:                                                                                                
          Insert the following new material:                                                                                    
          "(b)  AS 44.50.068(f) is repealed."                                                                                   
     Page 18, line 2:                                                                                                           
          Delete "secs. 1- 14"                                                                                                  
          Insert "secs. 1 - 11 and 13 - 15(a)"                                                                                  
     Page 18, line 7:                                                                                                           
          Delete "secs. 1- 14"                                                                                                  
          Insert "secs. 1- 11 and 13 - 15(a)"                                                                                   
     Page 18, following line 16:                                                                                                
          Insert new bill sections to read:                                                                                     
        "*  Sec. 18.   The  uncodified law  of the  State of                                                                  
     Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                                         
          CONDITIONAL EFFECT.  Sections 12 and 15(b) of                                                                         
     this Act  take effect only if  a bill is passed  by the                                                                    
     Second  Session   of  the  Twenty-Third   Alaska  State                                                                    
     Legislature,  and enacted  into  law, that  establishes                                                                    
     procedures for administrative  hearings conducted by an                                                                    
     office of administrative hearings  in the Department of                                                                    
        * Sec. 19.   If secs. 12 and 15(b)  of this Act take                                                                  
     effect under sec.  18 of this Act, they  take effect on                                                                    
     the effective date of the  provisions described in sec.                                                                    
     18 of this Act."                                                                                                           
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
     Page 18, line 17:                                                                                                          
          Delete "Section 16"                                                                                                   
          Insert "Section 17"                                                                                                   
     Page 18, line 18:                                                                                                          
          Delete "sec. 17"                                                                                                      
          Insert "secs. 19 and 20"                                                                                              
Number 1894                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG, calling  the aforementioned  Amendment                                                               
1, [moved] to adopt Amendment 1.                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE  asked  whether   there  were  any  objections  to                                                               
Amendment 1.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked for an  explanation of what Amendment 1                                                               
MS.  KREITZER   relayed  that  Amendment   1  provides   for  the                                                               
administrative  hearing process  outlined in  SB 203  to be  used                                                               
after 7/1/2005 should SB 203 pass.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA   indicated  that  he  did   not  object  to                                                               
Amendment 1.                                                                                                                    
Number 1917                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                           
Number 1932                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG made  a  motion to  adopt Amendment  2,                                                               
which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
     Page ___, Line ___:  Insert new bill section to read:                                                                      
     *Sec. ___.   AS  44.50 is  amended to  by adding  a new                                                                    
          Sec. 44.50.___. Unauthorized practice. (a) A                                                                          
     notary who is not an  attorney may complete but may not                                                                    
     select  notarial  certificates,   and  may  not  assist                                                                    
     another person  in drafting, completing,  selecting, or                                                                    
     understanding  a document  or  transaction requiring  a                                                                    
     notarial act.                                                                                                              
          (b) This section does not prohibit a notary who                                                                       
     is  qualified   in,  and,  if  required,   licensed  to                                                                    
     practice,  a particular  profession from  giving advice                                                                    
     relating to matters in that professional field.                                                                            
       (c) A notary may not make representations to have                                                                        
     powers, qualifications, rights or privileges that the                                                                      
     office of notary does not have.                                                                                            
Number 1937                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said that  Amendment 2 will  prohibit a                                                               
notary  from  practicing  law,  and opined  that  the  Hams  case                                                             
illustrates that the exact  language of notarization certificates                                                               
is extremely important.                                                                                                         
Number 1992                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE removed her objection  and asked whether there were                                                               
any further objections to Amendment 2.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE OGG noted that Amendment  2 does not specify where                                                               
in the  bill its  language will  be inserted.   He  asked whether                                                               
Amendment 2 would be conceptual.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG confirmed  that  Amendment  2 would  be                                                               
Number 2007                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  McGUIRE, after  ascertaining  that there  were no  further                                                               
objections, announced that [Conceptual] Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                
Number 2015                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  moved  to  report  CSHB  439(STA),  as                                                               
amended,  out of  committee with  individual recommendations  and                                                               
the accompanying  fiscal note.   There  being no  objection, CSHB
439(JUD)  was   reported  from   the  House   Judiciary  Standing                                                               

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