While I still have some grave concerns about some of the actions taken by the National Notary Association, one thing I truly like about them is their emailed Notary Bulletin, because it brings me news that I would not otherwise hear about until much later, if at all. The issue received in my inbox today is a good example, as it featured a headlined story about Tennessee changing its law on Notaries Public.
I followed up on their story with research on the Tennessee.gov website and, sure enough, it is true. Here is the link to the page about the bill: http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=HB2387
And the law itself (no longer a bill, now that it has passed and been signed by the Governor) is at : http://state.tn.us/sos/acts/108/pub/pc0805.pdf
What this new laws does is 3 things.
1) It clarifies that the Governor “approves” the appointment or election of a Notary Public, not “commissions” the Notary. This clears up any question about the Notary Public being a County official, with the Governor simply adding his approval to that.
2) It requires a Notary Journal (well-bound book) that contains a record of each of the documents Notarized by the Notary Public. This ends the confusion over whether that was only required when the Notary charged for their services or all the time. Now, it is clear — if you are a Notary Public in Tennessee, you need to get and use a Notary Journal (once this law goes into effect).
3) It removes the entire section about what fees a Notary can charge and replaces it with an open-ended statement that we can charge anything “reasonable.” I suppose there is a definition of “reasonable” somewhere else in the Tennessee Code. Otherwise, expect to see lawsuits the first time someone goes way overboard on their fees. On the other hand, I have been amazed for years that there were no class-action lawsuits over various aspects of how some Notaries Public perform their duties, so it may be a long time before anyone sues over what a Notary Public charges under this new law.
The new law goes into effect on October 1, 2014. Until then, we are operating under the old law.
Please note: I am NOT an attorney and am not authorized to provide legal opinions or legal advice. Nothing here should be construed as a legal opinion. This is simply my layman’s reading of what the new law will mean and what impact it will have on how I and other State of Tennessee Notaries Public will operate after it goes into effect.