Monday, October 18, 2010

Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act - Much Ado About Nothing

The media hype is in full swing.  On Thursday, the White House announced that President Obama would not sign H.R. 3808, the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2010, a one page innocuous little bill that was UNANIMOUSLY approved by both the House and Senate.  The bill will be returned to the House.  The media has been frothing over this bill, claiming that the bill might bail out banks from their foreclosure robo-signing troubles.  The bill requires the following: 

Each Federal court shall recognize any lawful notarization made by a notary public licensed or commissioned under the laws of a State other than the State where the Federal court is located if—

(1) such notarization occurs in or affects interstate commerce; and 

(2) (A) a seal of office, as symbol of the notary public’s authority, is used in the notarization; or
      (B) in the case of an electronic record, the seal information is securely attached to, or logically associated with, the electronic record so as to render the record tamper-resistant.

Guess what?  Notarizations are already recognized from state to state.  And notice the wording says LAWFUL notarizations.  Illegal acts are not something miraculously absolved under this bill.  The purpose of the bill was merely to recognize technological updates like e-signatures and e-notarizations.  

White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer released a statement saying "we believe it is necessary to have further deliberations about the intended and unintended impact of this bill on consumer protections, including those for mortgages, before this bill can be finalized."  Notice he didn't say there was any such unintended consequence of the bill, just that the White House wanted a further review.   

Personally, I do not support the bill only because it's pointless fluff. The National Association of Secretaries of State does not support the bill for similar reasons.  There's nothing in the bill that's new or isn't already covered in other laws.  But the outrage over this bill from people who seem to know little or nothing about notarizations is preposterous.  Ignore the mindless hype and read the bill yourself.  

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