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Thursday, October 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

After all that, notary update bill passes House on 63-7 vote

After all that, HB 209, the bill to update Idaho’s notary laws, has passed the House on a 63-7 vote. It’s kept the House on the floor today long past its anticipated afternoon adjournment; anyone who was hoping to attend an afternoon committee meeting that was scheduled at either 1:30 p.m. or on adjournment of the afternoon session - or at 3 p.m. - is still waiting.

The seven “no” votes came from Reps. Giddings, Hanks, Moon, Nate, Scott, Shepherd and Zito.

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, the bill’s House sponsor, told the House, “It allows the notaries to charge $5 instead of $2. There is an extra fee for those who want to do the electronic notary. … Other than that, it clarifies our notary law, makes it clear that when a notary is signifying that a person has appeared before them, that they actually appear before them … the normal stuff that notaries would do.”

Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, said, “This legislation incorporates United Nations language.”

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, said, “I appreciate the good lady from (District) 7 reading the bill – I wish all my bills were read out loud to me.” Speaker Scott Bedke commented, “We can always make that happen.” Scott said, “Well, I kind of like it. I like to be read to.”

She said, “My problems with this bill is No. 1., ,it comes from the Uniform Law Commission. … It’s a group of lawyers that believe in centralized planning and uniform planning. These centralized planners are pushing this bill on Idaho and other states around the country when only six other states have adopted this language. In Idaho, we have no problem with notarizing documents at this point.” She added, “I do not think that we as Idaho legislators should be abdicating our responsibilities to a group of lawyers who believe in centralized planning for the entire country and for foreign government. And so for that reason alone, I’ll be voting against this bill.”

Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, spoke in favor of the bill, saying he looked into how it actually was drafted, and it was worked over “line by line” by the Idaho Bankers Association, county clerks and others in Idaho. “These are Idaho individuals who helped put this bill together to make sure we could transfer properties easier when we’re dealing with people from out of state,” he said. “What this allows us to do is do some electronic transfers … so we can speed up the pace of business.”

Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, questioned whether the bill really would help with interstate transactions if only six other states already have adopted those provisions. Luker said while six have adopted them, another 15 are considering them this year.

Giddings also pointed to a line about “notary public database extraction,” and asked Luker, “Can you tell me what data exactly can be extracted from their databases?”

Luker said, “My understanding is that has to do with the identity of the notaries who are public, and also any associated authorities they have, for electronic or otherwise.”

Luker told the House in his closing debate, “I’ll have to tell you, I’m not always a fan of uniform code either, because I do believe we need to do our work here in Idaho. But there comes a point where you don’t need to reinvent the wheel on a lot of these things. Each one of these should be looked at. … This is one that I think is very specific. It has to do with authenticating documents that are used in commerce.”

Luker said, “These changes are really meant to facilitate our ability to transact business and to have reliability in our notary process. And this particular uniform bill is narrow, it’s been tailored to Idaho, and I think it’s a good one.”

With that, the bill passed overwhelmingly, and now heads to the Senate side.  

After the House had moved on to the next bill, Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, asked unanimous consent to lift the call of the House, at 4 p.m. That meant that more than an hour and a half after it was imposed, people could enter or leave the House again. While it was in effect, no one could enter or leave – not even to go to the bathroom.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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