PENNSYLVANIA ENACTS LEGISLATION ALLOWING FOR REMOTE NOTARIAL ACTS AND RELIEF FROM SUNSHINE ACT
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has signed into law Senate Bill 841 (the “Act”) yesterday, which, among other things, provides for remote notarization and reduced restrictions for public meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective immediately, the Department of State shall authorize a notary to conduct notarial acts without demanding the physical presence of the customer, if: (i) the notary gives notice to the Department of State prior to completing its initial remote notary act; and (ii) the notary uses a Department of State approved communication and identity proofing technology. Remote notarial acts approved by this Act shall be effective until sixty (60) days after the end of the Governor’s emergency declaration. A notary may conduct remote notarial acts where: (a) (i) the notary has personal knowledge of the identity of the customer, (ii) the notary has satisfactory evidence of the identity of the remotely located customer by oath or affirmation from a credible witness
in front of the notary, or (iii) the notary is able to reasonably identify the customer by at least two (2) different types of identity proofing processes or services; and (b) the notary is able to reasonably identify the record which he or she is notarizing. Notaries conducting remote notarial acts will need to create and retain an audio-visual recording of the performance of the notarial act, which captures all interactions between the notary public and the remotely located individual. Any remote notarial act performed by a notary will need to contain a statement that the notarial act involved the use of communication technology. Please note, this act allows the Department of State to promulgate additional rules and regulations for remote notarization and different rules apply to customers not located in the United States. It is strongly recommended you contact one of our attorneys before commencing your remote notarization acts to ensure you are complying with all applicable rules and regulations.
The Act has also reduced restrictions under Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act to allow governmental bodies to continue to conduct hearings, meetings, proceedings or other business through the use of an authorized telecommunications device until the expiration or termination of the COVID-19 disaster emergency. Business conducted through authorized telecommunications devices under the Act shall not require the physical presence of a quorum of the participating members at a physical meeting location so long as a quorum is otherwise established by the participating members through the authorized telecommunications device. Governmental bodies conducting business pursuant to the Act will be required to give at least five (5) days’ advance notice of the meeting on the entity's publicly accessible Internet website, if any, in an advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation, or both, and include the date, time, technology to be used along with the public participation information. Any governmental body operating through an authorized telecommunication device shall allow for public participation through an authorized telecommunication device or through written comments mailed or emailed to the governmental body. Please keep in mind that the Act imposes other restrictions, relief and procedures for governing bodies wishing to conduct meetings under the Act and it is recommended you contact one of our attorneys before conducting business using the Act’s relief to ensure you are complying with all applicable requirements.
Our office continues to operate at full capacity in an effort to keep you up-to-date on changes in Pennsylvania law that will allow you and your businesses to continue to run as smoothly as possible during these trying times. Please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our attorneys if you have any questions on how the enactment of this legislation may help you or for more specific information on remote notarization or remote public meetings. We stand ready to assist.