Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/30/2004 09:12 AM Senate FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 302(JUD) "An Act relating to the authority to take oaths, affirmations, and acknowledgments in the state, to notarizations, to verifications, to acknowledgments, to fees for issuing certificates with the seal of the state affixed, and to notaries public; and providing for an effective date." This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance Committee. Co-Chair Wilken stated this bill, sponsored by the Senate Rules Committee by request of the Governor, "comprehensively updates AS 44.50, the chapter that governs notary publics. The last time we did this was in 1961." SCOTT CLARK, Notary Commission Administrator, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, deferred to Ms. Kreitzer to present the bill. ANNETTE KREITZER, Chief of Staff, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, testified via teleconference from an off net location in Anchorage, and referenced a table titled, "Notary Statute Comparison - CS SB 302 (JUD)" [copy on file], which demonstrates the current requirements and the proposed changes. Upon review of the current procedures, potential improvements were identified. Ms. Kreitzer noted the change of the minimum age requirement from 19 years to 18 years. This is to accommodate the significant number of banking clerks who are 18 years of age and require notary authority. Mr. Kreitzer stated that the residency requirement would change to be consistent with the general residency statute AS 01.10.055. It was also discovered that felons are not currently restricted from becoming notaries and this legislation would stipulate that applicants may not be convicted or incarcerated felons within ten years of application. The original version of the bill would have imposed a zero tolerance and would have prohibited all felons from obtaining notary authorization. However, statistics demonstrate that most felons who have not re-offended within ten years are likely to remain lawful citizens, and the bill was amended to allow for those felons to become notary publics. Ms. Kreitzer noted the terms would remain unchanged with the exception of Limited Governmental Notaries Public, which would remain active until termination of employment in the governmental capacity that necessitates the notary authority. Ms. Kreitzer told of the proposed increase in the price from $2 to $5 for each notary public certificate issued by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to reflect increased postage and printing expenses. The Notary Bond requirement would remain unchanged at $1,000, although Limited Governmental Notaries would no longer require the bond because the governmental entities are self- insured. Ms. Kreitzer explained that Limited Governmental Notaries Public are currently restricted to providing notary services only in the capacity of their employment unless they purchase a separate public commission. This legislation would allow the Limited Governmental Notaries Public to perform notary services independently as well. Ms. Kreitzer informed that currently the Administrative Procedure Act must be invoked to review all complaints against notaries, regardless of the seriousness of the allegations. The House Finance Committee is considering legislation that would consolidate the appeals processes of many State agencies to a centralized hearing officer. A proposed amendment to SB 302 would include notary public activities in the centralized appeals process. Ms. Kreitzer reported that improvements would be made to the web site detailing the locations of notary publics available to provide notary services. Additional information would be gathered from notary publics, including e-mail addresses and phone numbers that would not be made public but would assist the Office of the Lieutenant Governor in maintaining current contact information. Senator Dyson asked if this legislation only pertains to notary publics. Ms. Kreitzer responded that Section 1 of the bill provides that the presiding officers of the House of Representative and the Senate would become notary publics upon appointment to those positions. This is necessary because an official must be a notary public to administer an oath of office, which is done to swear in persons appointed to fill vacant legislative seats. Senator Dyson told of allegations that seated legislatures were not "validly serving" because they had not taken the oath of office under the "proper [State] seal" and had not spoken the correct language in taking the oath. He asked if this issue would be addressed. Ms. Kreitzer had heard similar compliant and replied that this situation would be corrected with the language in Section 1. Amendment #1: This conceptual amendment inserts a new bill section on page 16, following line 25 to read as follows. 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. This amendment also inserts new bill sections on page 18, following line 8 to read as follows. Sec. 18. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read: CONDITIONAL EFFECT. Section 12 of this Act takes 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 Administration. Sec. 19. If sec. 12 of this Act takes effect under sec. 18 of this Act, it takes effect on the effective date of the provisions described in sec. 18 of this Act. Co-Chair Wilken moved for adoption. Senator Dyson objected for discussion purposes. Ms. Kreitzer noted the conceptual amendment would allow the Division of Legal and Research Services to make technical changes where necessary. The language of this amendment pertains to SB 203. If SB 203 does not pass, existing statute is retained, that provides that the lieutenant governor determines whether sufficient evidence exists for a complaint to proceed. Senator Dyson surmised that the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and the Office of the Governor do not oppose this amendment. Ms. Kreitzer affirmed. Senator Dyson removed his objection and the amendment was ADOPTED. Senator Bunde relayed concerns that all commissioners and appointees do not take an oath of office. Ms. Kreitzer was unsure of the concern, as all commissioners are required to take the oath. Senator Bunde clarified that State appointees to the federal Subsistence Board do not take an oath promising to uphold the Alaska Constitution. If this oath were taken, those appointees would be unable to make allocations of fish and wildlife for subsistence users. Ms. Kreitzer responded that this bill would not address that situation. Amendment #2: This conceptual amendment would insert language in Section 4, amending AS 09.63.090. Certificate of acknowledgment., and Section 5, amending AS 09.63.100. Forms of acknowledgment., on page 3, line 1 through page 7, line 3, relating to limited liability partnerships to reflect language included in HB 439. Ms. Kreitzer proposed this amendment to align this legislation to its companion bill in the House of Representatives. It was discovered that this legislation would not pertain to limited liability partnerships. This is "housekeeping language". SFC 04 # 102, Side A Co-Chair Wilken moved for adoption. Without objection the amendment was ADOPTED. Co-Chair Green offered a motion to report CS SB 302 (JUD), as amended, from Committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal note. There was no objection and CS SB 302 (FIN) MOVED from Committee with zero fiscal note #1. Co-Chair Green spoke to public comments on complications caused by provisions in the FY 04 supplemental budget. She announced she has been communicating with the Office of the Governor and Department of Health and Social Services to achieve an "interim solution" to this "anomaly" to ensure that assisted living and health care providers and other vendors receive payment without delay.