BREAKING: Landmark Realtor®-Sponsored Remote Ink Notary Bill Passes Legislature
April 23, 2021
In the height of the pandemic, due to the state of emergency, public health orders, and social distancing guidelines, many REALTORS® and other professionals were unable to safely meet in person to close transactions and conduct other essential business. Governor Kay Ivey took leadership on a multitude of issues during the pandemic, including issuing an executive order to allow for remote ink notarization. The executive orders are only valid during the state of emergency.
To help members have the permanent ability to utilize remote ink notarization to safely conduct essential business remotely when necessary, Alabama REALTORS® and a coalition of industry groups, including the Alabama Banker’s Association and Southeast Land Title Association, led the effort to codify the language from Governor Ivey’s executive orders during the pandemic and provide security to safely notarize documents remotely using identity proofing measures to help remote closings and other transactions.
“This bill allows REALTORS® to continue working in a safe environment when external factors, such as a pandemic, have previously prevented us from doing so,” said Slade McElroy, the 2021 Alabama REALTORS® President. “I am grateful for Governor Ivey’s leadership on this important issue and for our Legislature for recognizing the value of remote ink notarization, not just for the real estate industry, but for all of Alabama’s businesses.”
The bill allows for remote ink notarization with added minimum standards and additional safeguards for when remote notarization is used, including identity verification requirements and a detailed record of the remote notarization act. Notably, while this bill allows two-way audio-visual communication technology to satisfy the in-person appearance requirement, it is in no way creating a new type of notarization, such as online notarization. The document must still be executed by the signatory on paper and will later be sent to the Notary for authentication and a remote wet-ink signed notarization. The bill also provides certainty and clarity around remote notarizations done during the pandemic by ratifying notarizations done under the executive order.
Senator Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) and Representative Andy Whitt (R-Harvest) sponsored the remote ink notarization legislation, SB275 and HB470, and worked tirelessly to get the bill through their respective bodies. On Tuesday, the bill faced its final steps. Rep. Whitt presented the bill for a House vote. Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Birmingham) spoke in favor of the legislation stating the bill would help further commerce in the state. Rep. Rolanda Hollis (D-Birmingham) spoke in favor of the legislation stating she was pleased that the bill required a wet-ink signature. After the committee amendment was adopted, which changed the penalty for intentionally violating the act to a Class C misdemeanor, the bill passed the House unanimously 98-0. Due to the committee amendment, it was sent back to the Senate for concurrence. Sen. Givhan moved for concurrence, and the Senate voted to concur and adopt with a 29-0 vote. The bill now moves to Gov. Ivey’s desk for her signature. Thank you, Sen. Givhan and Rep. Whitt, for all your hard work in getting this bill passed!