HB 1217 was passed into law today by a vote of the Texas Senate. This means that Texas notaries will be able to perform notarial acts online using audio/video conferencing technology, perhaps as early as July 1, 2018. Of course, the final stop for this bill is Gov. Abbott's desk in Austin. Once signed, the bill is law.
Is this good?
My crystal ball has not been very forthcoming recently because of all the rain we've had here in the Brazos Valley. So, I can't say exactly what will happen.
What I do know is that Kisha Smith in Virginia, a notary for whom I have high regard, has spoken quite favorably about her experience with remote notarization since the beginning.
Before us is a new Texas frontier!
Many members of the Facebook group of Texas Notary Professionals intend to look at this like an unlimited opportunity. Some are a little bit worried about expressing that in the general discussion area, but I have had several conversations about it offline.
I intend to look at this positively. I have written several articles on my blog Remote Notary Watch 2017 that said I felt like the passage in Texas of a law like HB 1217 was inevitable. I am convinced it is better to be part of what is now our future TODAY, than to play at killing Goliath with ten toothpicks.
The lawmakers have spoken.
Others are not convinced this is right.
I respect them and their convictions.
In either case, through the passage of HB 1217, today's Texas notaries public will be a part of history forever.
Whether the history to be written is one of embracing new technology and pioneering through unknown territory, or doing exactly the opposite quite vigorously, the passage of HB 1217 and what comes next is our story. That's important to me. Texas notaries are making history.
HB 1217 - What does the new law say?
HB 1217 says that the Secretary of State will be in charge of developing the standards with the help of the Texas Department of Information Resources.
Our law is much liked Virginia's law. There are no boundaries on Texas notaries and what they can notarize, as long as they are sitting in Texas and notarizing via the internet. Originally, HB 1217 would have restricted them to notarize only documents that pertained to Texas properties and citizens. We have no real boundaries now.
The one thing that sets the Texas law that will develop from HB 1217 apart from Virginia's law is that Texas law will require documents that are notarized online to have certificates that state that the notarial act was an online notarization.
Notably, one other interesting item to report is that when performing an online notarization under the new rules of HB 1217, the definition of credible witness changes. In a traditional notarial act, the notary must know a credible witness personally. Under HB 1217, a credible witness may be identified by documentation.
In closing - Don't look for the Grim Reaper of Notaries!
My wish for all who read this would be not to expect the worst.
Whatever your stance, I encourage you to remember that negativity achieves little. A negative outlook will only benefit your competitors who are positive, energized, and looking forward to what comes next.
Also, please don't become overly concerned with scary statements you may have read recently that said the passage of this bill is going to send us all straight to the hot place riding in a handbasket.
Texans, please join us.
If you aren't already a part of the Texas Notary Group on Facebook, join us. Group members have been informed regularly on issues like this since our inception.
Best, Brenda Stone