HARRISBURG – Legislation by State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) that would authorize remote notarization of documents received overwhelming approval Wednesday from a Senate panel.
During a remote meeting, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to advance Senate Bill 1097 to the full Senate for consideration.
The measure, which Mastriano introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, would bring Pennsylvania in line with other states and modernize the notarization process by permitting audio-visual communications.
“This proposal does not replace notaries or the services they provide – rather, the bill authorizes the use of secure and reliable technology to assist notaries in performing their duties,” said Mastriano. “The legislation is user-friendly, and provides notaries with an additional tool to authenticate documents.”
More than 20 states have already enacted this type of legislation.
As part of the bill, audio-video communication could be used to E-notarize documents that would otherwise need to be verified in person. A notary would retain his or her function and responsibilities as an impartial witness, while the technology provides another means by which the notary may perform official duties. Verification and privacy protections are built into the legislation.
“With social-distancing recommendations and to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, this legislation is vitally important,” said Mastriano. “Pennsylvanians need to be able to notarize documents in a safe and convenient manner and sadly, our state is behind the times. This measure modernizes the entire process.”
A similar version of the legislation, Senate Bill 595 of 2017-2018, passed the Senate unanimously last session but did not advance in the House. In addition to alleviating worries during the COVID-19 outbreak and updating state code, the bill will help business travelers, family members working out of state, or veterans on deployment. Mastriano is a retired military combat colonel, who served 30 years before being elected state senator in May of 2019.
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