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Law

OH House Bill 263

Notary Law Update: OH House Bill 263

State: Ohio

Summary:
House Bill 263 enacts rules for how licensing authorities treat with applicants with past criminal records and makes technical changes to Ohio’s Notary laws.

Signed:  January 09, 2021

Effective:  October 12, 2021

Chapter: Session Law No. 96

Affects:

Adds Section 9.79 to and amends Sections 147.01, 147.011, and 147.05 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Changes:
  1. Clarifies that the background check for a Notary commission must demonstrate the applicant has not been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a “disqualifying offense” as determined in accordance with ORC 9.79.
  2. Adds new ORC 9.79 that provides rules, as specified, for how licensing authorities determine whether an applicant has committed an offense that disqualifies them for a license.
  3. Eliminates in ORC 147.011 the definition of “disqualifying offense” in name as it relates to qualifications for a Notary Public commission, but in ORC 147.05 retains the substance of the definition as it applies to a Notary who must notify the Secretary of State of being convicted of or pleading guilty or no contest of a crime.
  4. Puts into statute the actual date of September 20, 2019, as the date before which an attorney who applies to be commissioned as a Notary is not required to complete an educations program or pass the examination required as a qualification for a commission.
  5. Puts in the statute the actual date of September 20, 2019, as the date after which an attorney who applies to be commissioned as a Notary is not required to pass the examination required as a qualification for a commission but is required to complete an educational program for a commission.
Analysis:

House Bill 263 contains provisions for how the Secretary of State determines whether to issue a Notary commission to applicants with past criminal backgrounds.

The bill, for example, would require the Secretary of State as a licensing authority to provide a list of specific criminal offenses for which a conviction, judicial finding of guilt, or plea of guilty may disqualify an individual from obtaining an initial license. The bill also would not allow the Secretary to deny a commission for a vague qualification such as a lack of “moral turpitude” or “moral character.”

Of the bill, the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote: “House Bill 263 removes many of the automatic and discretionary disqualifications for those with criminal records who apply for professional licenses. Currently, many people find themselves out of various jobs and entire careers because of their past. Far too often, the restrictions have no relationship to the past conviction and the license sought. Ohio government should be encouraging and facilitating employment, not standing in the way. HB 263 strikes a much better and more productive balance.”

Read the bill text.

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