OH House Bill 49 | NNA
Law

OH House Bill 49

Notary Law Update: OH House Bill 49

State: Ohio

Summary:

House Bill 49 authorizes acknowledgments to be performed by visually appearing using an electronic communications device and makes Notaries mandated reporters of adult abuse.

Signed:  June 30, 2017

Effective:  September 29, 2017

Chapter: TBD

Affects:

Amends Sections 147.541 and 5101.63, and creates new Sections 147.542 and 147.543 of the Ohio Revised Code.

Changes:

Electronic Notary Commission and Communications Devices

  1. Clarifies that the words “acknowledged before me” means that the person acknowledging appeared before the person taking the acknowledgment, including by visually appearing through the use of electronic communications devices approved by the Secretary of State.
  2. Permits an Electronic Notary to use an electronic communications device, including a web site application, approved by the Secretary of State to satisfy the acknowledgment requirements under sections 147.51 to 147.58 of the Ohio Revised Code and to electronically sign as the Notary Public.
  3. Prohibits an Electronic Notary from using an electronic communications device to take a deposition.
  4. Requires a Notary to submit a registration form established by the Secretary of state to be commissioned as an Electronic Notary Public prior to using an electronic communications device.
  5. Requires the registration for an Electronic Notary commission to include all of the following information and be transmitted electronically to the Secretary of State: (a) the Notary’s full legal name and official Notary name; (b) a description of the technology the Notary will use to create an electronic signature in performing official acts; (c) certification of compliance with electronic Notary standards published by the Secretary: (d) the Notary’s email address; (e) the signature of the Notary applying to use the electronic signature described in the form; (f) any decrypting instructions, codes, keys, or software that allow the registration to be read; and (g) any other information the Secretary may require.
  6. Provides that the Secretary of State may deny an Electronic Notary registration if any of the required information is missing or incorrect on the registration form, or if the technology the Notary identifies on the form is not approved by the Secretary.
  7. Provides that an Electronic Notary’s term shall expire and may be renewed at the same time the Notary’s commission expires.
  8. Permits the Secretary of State to establish a reasonable fee, not to exceed $5, for submitting and processing the registration form for an Electronic Notary commission.
  9. Requires the Secretary of State to establish standards for approving an electronic communications device and the Office of Information Technology in the Department of Administration to provide assistance to the Secretary relating to the equipment, security, and technological aspects of the standards.
  10. Allows a registered Electronic Notary to use updated technology during the term of the commission, provided the Electronic Notary notifies the Secretary of State electronically within 90 days of installation or use of the updated technology and provides a brief description of that technology.
  11. Makes technical, non-substantive changes.

Mandatory Reporting of Elder Abuse

  1. Requires a Notary Public who has reasonable cause to believe that an adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited, or is in a condition which is the result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, to immediately report such belief to the county department of job and family services.
  2. Requires county departments of job and family services to make available educational materials for individuals who are required to make reports.
  3. Requires each entity responsible for licensing or regulating the individuals required to make reports to ensure that the individuals have access to the educational materials developed by the departments of job and family services.
  4. Provides that if it determined there is risk of harm to a person who makes a report, the county department of job and family services may redact the name and identifying information related to the individual who made the report.
  5. Prohibits an employer of an individual required to make a report from discharging, demoting, transferring or preparing a negative work performance evaluation, reducing benefits, pay or work privileges, taking any other action detrimental to an employee or in any way retaliating against the employee.
  6. Provides that any individual required to make a report shall be fined not more than $500 for failing to make a report.
Analysis:

Ohio becomes the fifth state overall and the third in 2017 to enact provisions allowing Notaries to use communication technology in performing notarial acts. HB 49 creates a new Electronic Notary Public commission and provides rules for submitting applications for this commission. This commission allows an Electronic Notary to take acknowledgments using an electronic communications device that allows the parties to visually appear before the Notary and sign these acknowledgments using an electronic signature. The new law does not allow Electronic Notaries to take depositions using an electronic communications device. The new law does not appear to allow electronic communications devices to be used in performing a jurat or administering an oath or affirmation. The new law requires the Secretary of State to establish standards for the use of electronic communications devices.

HB 49 also includes revisions to Ohio law related to mandated reporting of adult abuse, neglect and exploitation. The new law specifically requires no less than 32 professionals, including Ohio Notaries Public, to report any belief that an adult is being abused, neglected or exploited, or is in a condition that is the result of abuse, neglect or exploitation, to the county department of job and family services. Ohio becomes the first state to enact such a provision. In 2013, the California Legislature passed a bill that would have required California Notaries to be mandated reporters of elder financial abuse, but the Governor vetoed the bill. The new Ohio law requires county departments of job and family services to produce educational materials for mandated reporters, and also requires licensing entities such as the Secretary of State to ensure that individuals required to make reports have access to these materials.

These provisions were included in a massive budget bill of nearly 3,400 pages. It is not the first time that Notary provisions were part of a spending bill. In 2001, provisions transferring the commissioning of Notaries from the Governor to the Secretary of State were part of a budget bill.

A note regarding the effective date: The provisions for the electronic Notary commission and communications devices take effect September 29, 2017, while the mandated reporter provisions have a delayed effective date of September 29, 2018.

Due to the length of HB 49, the entire bill is linked immediately below and a separate document containing only the electronic communications device and mandated reporter provisions may downloaded by clicking the Download PDF link.

On September 29, 2017, the effective date of HB 49, the Secretary of State published standards for electronic notarization and online notarization to implement HB 49. A link to the New Law Update reporting on the Standards is provided below.

Read the bill text.

Read the Ohio Electronic and Online Notarization Standards New Law Update (published September 29, 2017)

Download PDF

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