Florida Senate - 2010                             CS for SB 2330
       By the Committees on Commerce; and Commerce
       577-03701-10                                          20102330c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to a review of the Department of State
    3         under the Florida Government Accountability Act;
    4         reenacting s. 20.10(2)(c), F.S., relating to the
    5         Division of Corporations within the department;
    6         amending s. 117.01, F.S.; assigning various duties of
    7         the Executive Office of the Governor relating to
    8         notaries public to the department; revising the
    9         application requirements for notaries public;
   10         requiring notary public applicants to complete certain
   11         interactive or classroom instruction; authorizing
   12         certain persons or entities to offer courses for the
   13         required instruction; revising provisions for the
   14         deposit and use of funds from the notary public
   15         surcharge; providing penalties for applicants who
   16         submit applications containing certain statements;
   17         requiring the department to provide notice on notary
   18         application forms of criminal penalties for providing
   19         false information; providing for the filing and
   20         investigation of complaints against notaries public;
   21         requiring the department to submit investigative
   22         findings to the Executive Office of the Governor;
   23         deleting obsolete provisions relating to notary bonds;
   24         requiring entities issuing notary bonds to submit
   25         annual reports to the department; requiring the
   26         department to refuse bonding certificates from such
   27         entity that does not submit its annual report by a
   28         specified date; conforming provisions; amending ss.
   29         117.021, 117.05, and 117.103, F.S.; deleting an
   30         obsolete provision relating to notary public seals;
   31         conforming provisions; amending s. 117.107, F.S.;
   32         prohibiting a notary public from using a signature
   33         stamp except under certain circumstances; providing
   34         penalties; specifying that notaries public are subject
   35         to suspension under certain circumstances;
   36         transferring the administration of certain provisions
   37         relating to notaries public from the Executive Office
   38         of the Governor to the department; amending s. 668.50,
   39         F.S.; deleting requirements for certain interactive or
   40         classroom instruction for notaries public, to conform;
   41         providing an appropriation and authorizing additional
   42         positions; providing effective dates.
   44  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   46         Section 1. Paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of section
   47  20.10, Florida Statutes, is reenacted.
   48         Section 2. Effective January 1, 2011, section 117.01,
   49  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   50         117.01 Appointment, application, suspension, revocation,
   51  application fee, bond, and oath.—
   52         (1) The Governor may appoint as many notaries public as he
   53  or she deems necessary, each of whom shall be at least 18 years
   54  of age and a legal resident of the state. A permanent resident
   55  alien may apply and be appointed and shall file with his or her
   56  application a recorded declaration of domicile. The residence
   57  required for appointment must be maintained throughout the term
   58  of appointment.
   59         (2) An applicant for appointment as a notary public,
   60  including an original, renewal, or subsequent applicant, must
   61  submit proof that he or she has, within 1 year before
   62  application for such appointment, completed at least 3 hours of
   63  interactive or classroom instruction, including electronic
   64  notarization, covering the duties of the notary public. Courses
   65  satisfying this subsection may be offered by any public or
   66  private sector person or entity registered with the Department
   67  of State and must include a core curriculum approved by the
   68  department.
   69         (3)A notary Notaries public shall be appointed for a term
   70  of 4 years and shall use and exercise the office of notary
   71  public within the boundaries of this state. An applicant must be
   72  able to read, write, and understand the English language.
   73         (4)(a)(2) The application for appointment must shall be
   74  signed and sworn to or affirmed by the applicant, submitted to
   75  the Department of State, and shall be accompanied by a fee of
   76  $25, together with the $10 commission fee required by s. 113.01,
   77  and a surcharge of $4. Of the surcharge, $2.80 shall be
   78  deposited in the Grants and Donations Trust Fund of which $4 is
   79  appropriated to the Executive Office of the Governor to be used
   80  to fund the issuance of notary commissions and the processing of
   81  suspensions, and the remaining $1.20 shall be deposited in the
   82  Operating Trust Fund of the Department of State to be used to
   83  fund the processing of notary applications, education educate
   84  and assistance for assist notaries public, and the investigation
   85  of complaints against notaries public. The Department of State
   86  Executive Office of the Governor may contract with private
   87  vendors to provide the services set forth in this section.
   88  However, a no commission fee is not shall be required for the
   89  issuance of a commission as a notary public to a veteran who
   90  served during a period of wartime service, as defined in s.
   91  1.01(14), and who has been rated by the United States Government
   92  or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its
   93  predecessor to have a disability rating of 50 percent or more;
   94  such a disability is subject to verification by the Department
   95  Secretary of State, which who has authority to adopt reasonable
   96  procedures to implement this chapter act.
   97         (b)An application must be accompanied by the oath of
   98  office and the notary bond required by this section. An shall
   99  also accompany the application must and shall be submitted in
  100  the format a form prescribed by the Department of State and must
  101  include, at a minimum which shall require, but not be limited
  102  to, the following information:
  103         1.The applicant’s legal full name.,
  104         2.The applicant’s residence address and telephone number.,
  105         3.The applicant’s business address and telephone number.,
  106         4.The applicant’s date of birth, ethnicity, race, gender,
  107  and citizenship status. sex,
  108         5.The applicant’s social security number., citizenship
  109  status,
  110         6.The applicant’s driver driver’s license number or the
  111  number of another other official state-issued identification.,
  112  affidavit of good character from someone unrelated to the
  113  applicant who has known the applicant for 1 year or more,
  114         7. A list of all professional licenses and commissions
  115  issued by the state to the applicant during the previous 10
  116  years and a statement as to whether or not the applicant has had
  117  such license or commission revoked or suspended., and
  118         8. A statement as to whether the applicant has previously
  119  been commissioned as a notary public in this state.
  120         9.A statement as to whether or not the applicant has been
  121  convicted or found guilty of a felony, and, if convicted or
  122  found guilty there has been a conviction, a statement of the
  123  nature of the felony and restoration of civil rights. The
  124  applicant may not use a fictitious or assumed name other than a
  125  nickname on an application for commission.
  126         (c) The application shall be maintained by the Department
  127  of State for the full term of a notary commission. A notary
  128  public shall notify, in writing, the Department of State of any
  129  change in his or her business address or, home telephone number,
  130  residence address or business telephone number, home address, or
  131  criminal history record within 60 days after such change.
  132         (d) The Department of State or Governor may require any
  133  other information he or she deems necessary for determining
  134  whether an applicant is eligible for a notary public commission.
  135  Each applicant must swear or affirm on the application that the
  136  information on the application is true and correct.
  137         (e)An applicant who submits an application that he or she
  138  knows to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement
  139  violates s. 817.155.
  140         (f)The Department of State shall conspicuously place on
  141  all notary public application forms the following statement:
  143         Please note that any applicant who submits an
  144         application that he or she knows to contain any false,
  145         fictitious, or fraudulent statement commits a felony
  146         of the third degree pursuant to s. 817.155, Florida
  147         Statutes.
  148         (5)(3) As part of the oath, the applicant must swear or
  149  affirm that he or she has read this chapter and knows the
  150  duties, responsibilities, limitations, and powers of a notary
  151  public.
  152         (6)Any person may file a complaint with the Department of
  153  State alleging a violation of this chapter by a notary public.
  154  Upon receipt of a complaint, the department shall investigate
  155  the complaint and submit a summary of its investigative findings
  156  to the Executive Office of the Governor.
  157         (7)(4) The Governor may suspend a notary public for any of
  158  the grounds provided in s. 7, Art. IV of the State Constitution.
  159  Grounds constituting malfeasance, misfeasance, or neglect of
  160  duty include, but are not limited to, the following:
  161         (a) A material false statement on the application.
  162         (b) A complaint found to have merit by the Governor.
  163         (c) Failure to cooperate with or respond to an
  164  investigation by the Executive Office of the Governor Governor’s
  165  office or the Department of State regarding a complaint.
  166         (d) Official misconduct as defined in s. 838.022.
  167         (e) False or misleading advertising relating to notary
  168  public services.
  169         (f) Unauthorized practice of law.
  170         (g) Failure to report a change in business or residence
  171  home address or telephone number, or failure to submit
  172  documentation to request an amended commission after a lawful
  173  name change, within the specified period of time.
  174         (h) Commission of fraud, misrepresentation, or any
  175  intentional violation of this chapter.
  176         (i) Charging fees in excess of fees authorized by this
  177  chapter.
  178         (j) Failure to maintain the bond required by this section.
  179         (8)(5)(a) If a notary public receives notice from the
  180  Department of State that he or she his or her office has been
  181  suspended from office declared vacant, the notary public shall
  182  forthwith mail or deliver to the Secretary of State his or her
  183  notary commission to the Department of State.
  184         (b) A notary public who wishes to resign his or her
  185  commission, or a notary public who does not maintain legal
  186  residence in this state during the entire term of appointment,
  187  or a notary public whose resignation is required by the
  188  Governor, shall send a signed letter of resignation to the
  189  Governor and shall return his or her certificate of notary
  190  public commission. The resigning notary public shall destroy his
  191  or her official notary public seal of office, unless the
  192  Governor requests its return.
  193         (9)(6)A No person may not be automatically be reappointed
  194  as a notary public. The application process must be completed
  195  regardless of whether an applicant is requesting his or her
  196  initial first notary commission, a renewal of a commission, or
  197  any subsequent commission.
  198         (10)(7)(a) A notary public shall, before prior to executing
  199  the duties of the office and throughout the term of office, give
  200  bond, payable to any individual harmed as a result of a breach
  201  of duty by the notary public acting in his or her official
  202  capacity, in the amount of $7,500, conditioned on for the due
  203  discharge of the office and shall take an oath that he or she
  204  will honestly, diligently, and faithfully discharge the duties
  205  of the notary public. The bond shall be approved and filed with
  206  the Department of State and executed by a surety company for
  207  hire duly authorized to transact business in this state.
  208         (b) Any notary public whose term of appointment extends
  209  beyond January 1, 1999, is required to increase the amount of
  210  his or her bond to $7,500 only upon reappointment on or after
  211  January 1, 1999.
  212         (b)(c)Beginning July 1, 1996, Surety companies for hire
  213  which process notary public applications, oaths, affidavits of
  214  character, or and bonds for submission to the Department of
  215  State must properly submit these documents in a software and
  216  hard copy format approved by the department of State.
  217         (11)(8)Upon payment to Any individual harmed as a result
  218  of a breach of duty by the notary public, the entity issuing
  219  bonds for one or more notaries public must submit to the
  220  Department of State an annual report that includes a statement
  221  of whether any bonds were paid and, if the bonds were paid, a
  222  summary of who has issued the bond for the notary public shall
  223  notify the Governor of the payment and the circumstances that
  224  which led to the claim. If an entity issuing such bonds does not
  225  submit its annual report to the department by January 1, the
  226  department shall refuse to accept bonding certificates from the
  227  entity until the entity submits its annual report.
  228         Section 3. Effective January 1, 2011, subsection (4) of
  229  section 117.021, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  230         117.021 Electronic notarization.—
  231         (4) Failure of a notary public to comply with any of the
  232  requirements of this section may constitute grounds for
  233  suspension of the notary public’s commission by the Executive
  234  Office of the Governor.
  235         Section 4. Effective January 1, 2011, subsections (1), (3),
  236  and (9) of section 117.05, Florida Statutes, are amended to
  237  read:
  238         117.05 Use of notary commission; unlawful use; notary fee;
  239  seal; duties; employer liability; name change; advertising;
  240  photocopies; penalties.—
  241         (1) A No person may not shall obtain or use a notary public
  242  commission in other than his or her legal name or, and it is
  243  unlawful for a notary public to notarize his or her own
  244  signature. Any person applying for a notary public commission
  245  must submit proof of identity to the Department of State if so
  246  requested. Any person who violates the provisions of this
  247  subsection commits is guilty of a felony of the third degree,
  248  punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
  249         (3)(a) A notary public seal shall be affixed to all
  250  notarized paper documents and shall be of the rubber stamp type
  251  and shall include the words “Notary Public-State of Florida.”
  252  The seal shall also include the name of the notary public, the
  253  date of expiration of the commission of the notary public, and
  254  the commission number. The rubber stamp seal must be affixed to
  255  the notarized paper document in photographically reproducible
  256  black ink. Every notary public shall print, type, or stamp below
  257  his or her signature on a paper document his or her name exactly
  258  as commissioned. An impression-type seal may be used in addition
  259  to the rubber stamp seal, but the rubber stamp seal shall be the
  260  official seal for use on a paper document, and the impression
  261  type seal may not be substituted therefor.
  262         (b) Any notary public whose term of appointment extends
  263  beyond January 1, 1992, is required to use a rubber stamp type
  264  notary public seal on paper documents only upon reappointment on
  265  or after January 1, 1992.
  266         (b)(c) The notary public official seal and the certificate
  267  of notary public commission are the exclusive property of the
  268  notary public and must be kept under the direct and exclusive
  269  control of the notary public. The seal and certificate of
  270  commission must not be surrendered to an employer upon
  271  termination of employment, regardless of whether the employer
  272  paid for the seal or for the commission.
  273         (c)(d) A notary public whose official seal is lost, stolen,
  274  or believed to be in the possession of another person shall
  275  immediately notify the Department of State or the Governor in
  276  writing.
  277         (d)(e) Any person who unlawfully possesses a notary public
  278  official seal or any papers or copies relating to notarial acts
  279  is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as
  280  provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
  281         (9) Any notary public who lawfully changes his or her name
  282  shall, within 60 days after such change, request an amended
  283  commission from the Department Secretary of State and shall send
  284  $25, his or her current commission, and a notice of change form,
  285  obtained from the department Secretary of State, which shall
  286  include the new name and contain a specimen of his or her
  287  official signature. The Department Secretary of State shall
  288  issue an amended commission to the notary public in the new
  289  name. A rider to the notary public’s bond must accompany the
  290  notice of change form. After submitting the required notice of
  291  change form and rider to the Department Secretary of State, the
  292  notary public may continue to perform notarial acts in his or
  293  her former name for 60 days or until receipt of the amended
  294  commission, whichever date is earlier.
  295         Section 5. Effective January 1, 2011, section 117.103,
  296  Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
  297         117.103 Certification of notary’s authority by Department
  298  Secretary of State.—A notary public is not required to record
  299  his or her notary public commission in an office of a clerk of
  300  the circuit court. If certification of the notary public’s
  301  commission is required, it must be obtained from the Department
  302  Secretary of State. Upon the receipt of a written request and a
  303  fee of $10 payable to the Department Secretary of State, the
  304  department Secretary of State shall issue a certificate of
  305  notarial authority, in a form prescribed by the department
  306  Secretary of State, which shall include a statement explaining
  307  the legal qualifications and authority of a notary public in
  308  this state.
  309         Section 6. Effective January 1, 2011, subsections (2) and
  310  (9) of section 117.107, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  311         117.107 Prohibited acts.—
  312         (2) A notary public may not sign notarial certificates
  313  using a facsimile signature stamp unless the notary public has a
  314  physical disability that limits or prohibits his or her ability
  315  to make a written signature and unless the notary public has
  316  first submitted written notice to the Department of State with
  317  an exemplar of the facsimile signature stamp.
  318         (9) A notary public may not notarize a signature on a
  319  document if the person whose signature is being notarized is not
  320  in the presence of the notary public at the time the signature
  321  is notarized. Any notary public who violates this subsection is
  322  guilty of a civil infraction, punishable by penalty not
  323  exceeding $5,000, and such violation constitutes malfeasance and
  324  misfeasance in the conduct of official duties. It is not a no
  325  defense to the civil infraction specified in this subsection
  326  that the notary public acted without intent to defraud. A notary
  327  public who violates this subsection with the intent to defraud
  328  violates is guilty of violating s. 117.105 and is subject to
  329  suspension pursuant to s. 117.01(7).
  330         Section 7. All powers, duties, functions, rules, records,
  331  personnel, and property; unexpended balances of appropriations,
  332  allocations, or other funds; administrative authority; pending
  333  issues; and existing contracts of the Executive Office of the
  334  Governor relating to notaries public or the administration of
  335  chapter 117, Florida Statutes, except for the issuance of notary
  336  commissions and the suspension of notaries public, are
  337  transferred by a type two transfer, as defined in s. 20.06(2),
  338  Florida Statutes, from the Executive Office of the Governor to
  339  the Department of State.
  340         Section 8. Subsection (11) of section 668.50, Florida
  341  Statutes, is amended to read:
  342         668.50 Uniform Electronic Transaction Act.—
  344         (a) If a law requires a signature or record to be
  345  notarized, acknowledged, verified, or made under oath, the
  346  requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the
  347  person authorized by applicable law to perform those acts,
  348  together with all other information required to be included by
  349  other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated
  350  with the signature or record. Neither a rubber stamp nor an
  351  impression type seal is required for an electronic notarization.
  352         (b) A first-time applicant for a notary commission must
  353  submit proof that the applicant has, within 1 year prior to the
  354  application, completed at least 3 hours of interactive or
  355  classroom instruction, including electronic notarization, and
  356  covering the duties of the notary public. Courses satisfying
  357  this section may be offered by any public or private sector
  358  person or entity registered with the Executive Office of the
  359  Governor and must include a core curriculum approved by that
  360  office.
  361         Section 9. The sum of $120,000 in recurring funds from the
  362  Operating Trust Fund is appropriated to the Department of State
  363  and one full-time equivalent position, with associated salary
  364  rate of 38,652 is authorized, for the 2010-2011 fiscal year for
  365  the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this act related
  366  to notaries public.
  367         Section 10. Except as otherwise expressly provided in this
  368  act, this act shall take effect July 1, 2010.

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