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Ashcroft’s Legislative Priorities Signed into Law

JEFFERSON CITY — Many of Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s legislative priorities were passed late in this year’s condensed legislative session, and Monday two important bills were signed into law by Governor Mike Parson.

Notary modernization passed as an attachment to HB 1655, sponsored by Rep. Hannah Kelley in the House and carried by Sen. Sandy Crawford in the Senate. It provides the first changes to Missouri notary law since the 1970s. The new law encourages the use of modern technology for the convenience and safety of Notaries Public and those who need notary services. It provides three options for notarization – in-person notary on paper, in-person electronic notary and remote electronic notary. The original sponsors of notary legislation were Sen. Bill White (SB 593) and Rep. David Gregory (HB 1874).

“I’m pleased with the progress made during the final days of the session,” Ashcroft said. “Remote notary provides a safe and effective option to have documents notarized that likely would have ended on August 28 had Governor not signed this bill. A wide variety of associations came together to support these changes, and I appreciate the legislature’s work to pass this priority.”

This update also protects the notary and signor by requiring all notarizations to be logged in the Notary Journal. Violations of the notary law have been moved to the criminal code to encourage prosecution. Electronic notary law has been clarified and remote electronic notary law has been created.

Gov. Parson also signed SB 599, which contains enhancements to securities laws to better protect investors and match industry standards. SB 599 also broadens the Senior Savings Protection Act to include investment advisers and provides for temporary holds on transactions when elder financial exploitation is perceived and the commissioner of securities and director of health and senior services are promptly notified. It also removes the cap on civil penalties for multiple violations, increases the per violation cap from $10,000 to $25,000 and increases the civil penalty for violations against elderly individuals from $5,000 to $15,000. The original sponsors of this legislation were Sen. Sandy Crawford (SB 654) and Rep. Dean Plocher (HB 1736).

In addition to notary modernization, HB 1655 included certain provisions related to the State Archives. The amendments to state law will modernize the process of making the General Assembly original rolls available for public viewing and removes an outdated requirement to print 45,000 copies of the Missouri Constitution as it is available electronically and online. The original Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Jeanie Riddle (SB 639).

The legislature also extended the sunset for the office’s Technology Trust Fund to 2026. This fund provides critical funding of technology for multiple divisions of the Office of the Secretary of State, including the Elections and Business Services Divisions, and allows the secretary of state’s office to keep up with advances in technology without using the state’s general revenue.