ME Senate Bill 653 | NNA
Law

ME Senate Bill 653

Notary Law Update: ME Senate Bill 653

State: Maine

Summary:

Senate Bill 653 lists the qualifications for Notaries Public plainly in statute and prescribes rules around the commissioning process.

Signed:  June 12, 2007

Effective:  September 20, 2007

Chapter: 285

Affects:

Repeals 5 MRSA 82 and reenacts an entirely new Section in its place

Changes:
  1. Prescribes that an applicant for a Notary commission shall: (a) Be 18 years of age or older; (b) Be a resident of Maine or a resident of an adjacent state and be regularly employed or carry on a trade or business in Maine; (c) Demonstrate proficiency in English; (d) Not have had a Notary commission revoked or suspended for official misconduct in Maine or any other jurisdiction for 5 years preceding the date of application; (e) Not have been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for 1 year or more or a lesser offense incompatible with the duties of a Notary as defined by rule set by the Secretary of State for 10 years preceding the date of application; and (f) Pass a written examination included on the application.
  2. Requires applicants for a commission who reside in an adjacent state to submit an affidavit of self- or regular employment in a form and format prescribed by the Secretary of State.
  3. Requires the Secretary of State to furnish study materials for the written examination to all applicants without charge upon request.
  4. Sets the term of commission for nonresident Notaries at 4 years (Note: Resident Notaries hold a term of 7 years.)
  5. Directs the Secretary of State to adopt rules relating to commissioning procedures. (Note: rules for commissioning presently exist but may need revising in light of the new law.)
  6. Prohibits the Secretary from refusing to appoint any person as a Notary solely because he or she lives or works in a certain geographical area or because of political party affiliation.
  7. Requires the Secretary to investigate or cause to be investigated all complaints concerning illegal or improper notarial acts performed by Maine Notaries.
Analysis:

Maine is one of the few states that did not include in statute the qualifications for the office of Notary Public, even though the repealed statute gave the Secretary of State authority to publish rules for the commissioning of Notaries. House Bill 653 now lists the qualifications plainly in statute. For some years a written examination has appeared on the application for a Notary commission, but with the examination now listed as a formal qualification, it surely will “determine the fitness of the person to exercise the functions of the office of notary public” (5 MRSA 82(1)(F). One of the innovative elements of House Bill 653 is the creation of a state board to investigate the conduct of Notaries and make recommendations for administrative action to the Secretary of State.

Read the bill text.

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