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Two bills in the Missouri Legislature would modernize Missouri's notary laws, something that's been needed for years if not decades.

As we recently reported, several parts of the state's existing notary laws haven't changed since 1978, around the time a small startup called Apple Computer Company came up with the first marketable home computer.

Since then, a lot has changed. Business is no longer done with two parties signing documents in each other's presence.

As such, the role of notary publics has changed. Notarys are officials authorized, among other things, to take acknowledgments, administer oaths and affirmations, as well as certify a copy of a document is a true copy.

Sen. Sandy Crawford, R-Buffalo, filed SB 578, which would create procedures for remote online notarization.

Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, filed SB 593, which would more broadly overhaul the state's notary public laws, including to allow for remote online notarization.

Many other states already have made updates to their notary laws.

"We have a lot of corporate headquarters, Fortune 500 and others, in the state, and not being able to do an online notary is becoming a hindrance to business being conducted in the state," White said, adding business is being done with parties on both the East and West coasts of the country.

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is pushing for the law changes. He has said his office has the rule-making authority to update notary laws, but he wants to involve the Legislature.

Under White's bill, getting a notary to sign a document could rise from a maximum of $2 to $5. Also, notaries would have to register with the secretary of state to perform electronic notarial acts.

The bill also would update how people can become commissioned as notaries and remain commissioned.

We believe the topic isn't likely to garner much attention — it's not exactly a watercooler issue. But it's something that's overdue, and worthy of lawmakers' time this year.

News Tribune

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