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Law

VT House Bill 104

Notary Law Update: VT House Bill 104

State: Vermont

Summary:

House Bill 104 provides several clarifications on matters enacted in last years Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts.

Signed:  May 23, 2019

Effective:  July 01, 2019

Chapter: TBD

Affects:

Amends 24 V.S.A. 1160, 26 V.S.A. 5304, 26 V.S.A. 5305 and 26 V.S.A. 5361.

Changes:
  1. Clarifies that a town clerk, commissioned as a Notary, may take acknowledgments of deeds and other instruments in his or her county.
  2. Clarifies that a town clerk, without being commissioned as a Notary, may administer oaths.
  3. Provides that each town clerk may designate from among the members of his or her staff at least one Notary to be available to perform notarial acts for the public in the town clerk’s office during normal business hours free of charge.
  4. Provides that each individual designated by the town to be a Notary must be commissioned as a Notary pursuant to 26 V.S.A. chapter 103 and shall be exempt from the Notary application fee under that chapter.
  5. Defines "notarial officer" as an individual authorized to perform a notarial act under authority and within the jurisdiction of another state, under authority and within the jurisdiction of a federally recognized Indian tribe, under authority of federal law, under authority and within the jurisdiction of a foreign state or constituent unit of the foreign state, or under authority of a multinational or international governmental organization.
  6. Clarifies that judiciary-related employees and law enforcement employees when acting as a Notary within the scope of their official duties are exempt from the requirements of 26 VSA chapter 5300, including paying the commissioning fee as a Notary.
  7. Clarifies that a Notary commission issued to a person under 26 VSA 5305(a)(1)(A) is not considered a license.
  8. Clarifies that a notarial act that identifies the notary public as a person who is exempt under 26 VSA 5303(a)(1)(B) (law enforcement employees) shall establish as a matter of law that the person is commissioned as a notary public for the purpose of acting within the scope of official duties under this subsection.
  9. Requires town clerks who perform notarial acts throughout their county to comply with all requirements of 26 VSA 5300 et seq., except for paying the fee to be commissioned as a Notary.
  10. Considers notarial acts performed by a town clerk and his or her assistants to be within the scope of the official duties of a town clerk and his or her assistants.
  11. Clarifies that justices of the peace and and town clerks and their assistants are exempt from the fee to be commissioned as a Notary.
  12. Clarifies that 26 VSA 5305 is not intended to prohibit prosecution of the unauthorized practice under 3 VSA 127.
  13. Clarifies that a notarial act as defined in 26 VSA 5304(7)(A) may only be performed in Vermont by a Notary commissioned under 26 VSA 5300 et seq.
  14. Raises the civil penalty that a Superior Court may impose for unauthorized practice by a person practicing a regulated profession without authority from $1,000 to $5,000.
  15. Authorizes the Attorney General or an attorney assigned by the Office of Professional Regulation to bring an action seeking only a civil penalty of not more than $2,500 for practicing or permitting the practice of a regulated profession without authority before the board having regulatory authority over the profession or before an administrative law officer.
  16. Clarifies that Notaries Public fall under regulatory authority of the Office of Professional Regulation.
Analysis:

Following up on the broad Notary Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts reform legislation enacted in Vermont last year, HB 104 provides clarifications on matters related to specific Notaries who are government employees. Last year's enacted law classified such employees as Notaries and requires them to obtain a Notary commission through the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR), just like private members of the public who obtain a Notary commission. The bill also clarifes that the OPR regulates Notaries and not just issues Notary commission through the Secretary of State's office. 

Read the bill text.

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