Ms. BALDWIN. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.
Ms. BALDWIN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, H.R. 3808, the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act of 2009, requires all Federal and State courts to recognize documents lawfully notarized in any State of the Union when interstate commerce is involved. An identical version of this bill passed the House in 2007.
A notary public has the professional expertise to verify the identity of the signatory to a document and ensure that it was willingly signed. Notary publics are a critical first line of defense against fraud. Although notarization serves the same purposes in all States, there are differences in State laws governing notarization, and also varying technical formalities. That makes it difficult for a State to recognize an out-of-state notarization.
For example, some States dictate that ink seals must be used, while others require embossers. Some States require very specific language in the acknowledgment certificate, and thus the language used in other States may not be acceptable. Such technical differences between State law hinder the recognition of documents that were lawfully notarized in the State in which the notarization was performed, and this can cause unnecessary delays that impact important legal rights and interstate commerce.
The fact that some States do not recognize documents lawfully notarized in other States also presents a constitutional issue. The U.S. Constitution requires that each State give full faith and credit to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State. The 21st century affords advances in transportation and telecommunications that have expanded the ability of individuals and businesses to conduct their affairs across State boundaries. The laws governing notarization should
not be permitted to continue encumbering their ability to do so.
By giving those laws reciprocal recognition, effectively harmonizing them, H.R. 3808 will bring those laws within the spirit of the Constitution's vision and bring much needed relief from antiquated formalities.
I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, at the outset I want to thank the sponsor of the bill, Representative Aderholt, for his persistence and patience. This is the third time the full House has considered his bill to streamline the use of notarized documents across State lines, and I hope this will be the last, followed by the Senate, and then enactment.
Mr. ADERHOLT. Madam Speaker, I appreciate the chairman's support for this legislation to be brought to the floor, and of course the support of Ranking Member Smith on this legislation as well. Without it, this legislation, we would not be here today where we are.
One other person who has been very supportive and who actually brought this to my attention several years ago is my friend MIKE TURNER, from Birmingham. We've worked together on this to try to resolve this issue through the United States Congress, and so here we are, as mentioned, the third time to try to resolve this.
There is an old saying, ``The third time's the charm,'' and I am hopeful today that saying holds true. As my colleagues who serve on the Judiciary Committee are well aware, today marks the third time that the House of [Page: H2920]
Representatives has brought up, and hopefully will pass, this bill. The key, of course, lies with our friends in the other Chamber. So I look forward to working with our colleagues in the Senate and getting the bill moved through that Chamber
I was first made aware of this problem, as I say, by my friend MIKE TURNER when I was first elected to Congress back in 1997. Here we are in 2010. The issue is still not resolved. This is an issue of great frustration to people who deal with notaries on a daily basis.
Several years ago, the House Judiciary Committee worked with supporters of this issue to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of the recognition of notarizations across State lines. In March of 2006, the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property heard from several witnesses who all agreed that this is an ongoing and difficult problem for interstate commerce. To businesses and individuals engaged in businesses across State lines, this is a matter long overdue.
In a nutshell, as it has been stated, H.R. 3808 will expedite interstate commerce so that court documents and other notarized documents will be fully recognized from one State to another. Today States can refuse to acknowledge the integrity of notarized documents from one State to another. This legislation, H.R. 3808, will streamline the interstate, commercial, and legal transactions consistent with the guarantees of the States' rights that are called for in the full faith and credit clause of
the United States Constitution.
This legislation preserves the rights of States to set standards and regulate notaries, while reducing the burden on the average citizen who has to use our court systems. Currently, as the law stands today, each State is responsible for regulating its notaries. Typically, an individual will pay a fee, they will submit an application, and they will take an oath of office. Some States require the applicants enroll in educational courses, to pass exams, and even obtain a notary bond. Nothing in
this legislation will change those steps. Please know we are not trying to mandate how States regulate notaries which they appoint. The bill will not preclude the challenge of notarized documents such as a will contest.
Again, I want to stress that this is in no way trying to mandate what a State should do or what a State should not do. It simply allows there to be more free flow of commerce between States, and particularly when you are talking about the regulation of notaries themselves.
Again, I want to thank the chairman and also the ranking member for their support of this legislation to allow us to move forward. I would urge my colleagues that when this legislation is brought for a vote that they would support it under suspension of the rules.