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