Florida Senate - 2010                      CS for CS for SB 2330
       By the Committees on Governmental Oversight and Accountability;
       Commerce; and Commerce
       585-04244-10                                          20102330c2
    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
   47  read:
   48         117.01 Appointment, application, suspension, revocation,
   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  to, 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
  107  status,
  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
  147  public.
  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
  173  chapter.
  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 individual 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
  273  writing.
  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 Secretary 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 Secretary 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
  293  read:
  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
  305  state.
  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.—
  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
  357  office.
  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.

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