S.P. 771 - L.D. 2098
An Act to Improve the Integrity of Notaries Public
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:
Sec. 1. 4 MRSA §955-A, as repealed and replaced by PL 1987, c. 573, §2, is repealed.
Sec. 2. 4 MRSA §955-C is enacted to read:
§955-C. Disciplinary action; grounds; procedure; complaints
1. Grounds. The Secretary of State may suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the commission of a notary public in the State. The Secretary of State's actions may be based on any of the following grounds:
A. The notary public has performed in an improper manner any duty imposed upon the notary public by law;
B. The notary public has performed acts not authorized by law;
C. The notary public is in violation of section 954-A; or
D. The notary public has been convicted of a crime as defined by rules adopted by the Secretary of State. These rules must provide that a conviction for perjury, false swearing, bribery, corrupt practices or forgery or related offenses may be a basis for the Secretary of State to suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the commission of a notary public. Rules adopted pursuant to this paragraph are routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter II-A.
2. Procedure. A notary public commission may not be suspended, revoked or refused for renewal for the reasons set forth in subsection 1 without prior written notice and opportunity for hearing. A notary public commission may not be suspended, revoked or refused for renewal under this section except by a decision by the Secretary of State or the Secretary of State's designee.
3. Complaints. Any person may file a complaint with the Secretary of State seeking disciplinary action against a notary public. Complaints must be in writing in a form prescribed by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State may also bring a complaint against a notary public if the Secretary of State determines that the notary public may have violated the provisions of subsection 1. If the Secretary of State determines that a complaint alleges facts that, if true, would require revocation, suspension or nonrenewal of commission or other disciplinary action, the Secretary of State shall conduct a hearing pursuant to the Maine Administrative Procedure Act. Whenever the Secretary of State establishes that a complaint does not state facts that warrant a hearing, the complaint may be dismissed. Persons making complaints must be advised in writing of all formal decisions made by the Secretary of State regarding that complaint. Any person whose notary public commission has been suspended, revoked or refused for renewal may apply to the Secretary of State in writing for the reinstatement of the notary public commission or as set by rule for convictions pursuant to subsection 1, paragraph D
at a time specified in the decision of the Secretary of State, and, in the case of revocation, any person may apply for a new commission one year from the date of the Secretary of State's original action.
Sec. 3. 5 MRSA §82, as amended by PL 1991, c. 465, §§6 and 7, is further amended to read:
§82. Appointment of notaries public; renewal of commissions; disciplinary action
The Secretary of State may appoint and renew commissions of all notaries public.
Notaries public shall serve terms of 7 years and exercise their power and duties in any county. Only adult residents of this State may be appointed to the offices.
The Secretary of State shall adopt rules relating to the appointment and renewal of commissions of notaries public. The rules must include criteria and a procedure to be applied by the Secretary of State in appointment and renewal. The Secretary of State may not refuse to appoint or renew solely because the applicant lives or works in a specific geographic area or because of political party affiliation.
The Secretary of State shall provide written notice of the expiration of their commission to notaries public 30 days prior to the expiration date. Failure to receive a notice does not affect the expiration date of a commission.
The Secretary of State shall investigate or cause to be investigated all complaints concerning improper or illegal notarial acts performed by notaries public made on the Secretary of State's own motion or on written complaint filed with the department.
The Secretary of State may conduct hearings to assist with investigations and to determine whether grounds exist for denial of commission, suspension of commission, revocation of commission, renewal of commission or other action necessary to the fulfillment of the Secretary of State's responsibility under the laws of this State.
Effective June 30, 1998, unless otherwise indicated.
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