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

House grinds to a halt amid concerns from Rep. Giddings over notary law update bill

The House was about to take up a bill to update notary laws, when Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, unexpectedly objected to the unanimous consent request to waive full reading of the bill. That meant the 21-page bill had to be read in full. The clerk began reading, but after a few minutes, Majority Leader Mike Moyle asked to put the House at ease. He also advised all House members to visit the restroom, presumably because a long session of listening to the reading of the lengthy bill was ahead.

In committee, Giddings joined Reps. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Christy Zito, R-Hammett, in objecting to the notary law bill as an example of “global planning for Idaho,” amid concerns about foreign countries that might be unstable, the Hague Convention and the involvement of the Uniform Law Commission in the bill. Here’s a link to my full story on the attempt to kill the bill in committee, which failed on a 3-10 vote.

From my earlier story:

When the bill was introduced, Scott expressed concerns, saying she believed Idaho had just started adopting uniform laws within the last year or two.

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, an attorney who has been a member of the Uniform Law Commission since about 2001, said, “It goes back to 1892.”

The Uniform Law Commission is a group of more than 300 attorneys, law professors, legislators and judges from across the political spectrum who draft model laws that ease interstate and international transactions. States decide on their own whether to adopt the model laws.

“I’ve been reading some goofy letters to the editor that said it is an NGO of the United Nations,” Davis said recently when asked about the commission. “That is not true. It was formed initially in 1892 for the purpose of being able to have states solve their own problems, instead of having the federal government solve their problems.”

The commission proposes model legislation in areas where uniformity among states is beneficial, including uniform probate codes, uniform commercial codes, and laws on notarial acts, child custody and more.

Jeff Harvey, deputy director of the commercial division for the Idaho secretary of state’s office, told the House State Affairs Committee the bill was drafted over the course of the last year by representatives from the Idaho Bankers Association, Idaho county clerks, the Idaho Land Title Association and the secretary of state’s office.

He said Idaho’s current notary laws were enacted in the 1980s, prior to the advent of the internet, which he said has “given us tools and opportunities.”

The update recognizes the use of electronic signatures and electronic document transfer, but doesn’t allow remote notarizing; a notary still would have to see a person sign a document in order to certify that it was that person who signed it. It replaces current law with a Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts.

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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