Felony Penalty and Education Requirement, Fee Increase, and Online Notarization Bills

C.S.H.B. No. 3657 establishes education requirements for appointment and reappointment as a notary public, an expanded retention period for notary records, and a criminal offense to penalize notaries who witness documents out side presence of signers.

This bill expressly does one or more of the following: creates a criminal offense, increases the punishment for an existing criminal offense or category of offenses, or changes the eligibility of a person for community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision.

C.S.H.B. 3657 amends the Government Code to include the failure to maintain notary records as required by state law among the “good causes” for which the secretary of state may reject an application or suspend or revoke the commission of a notary public. The bill requires a notary public to retain the requisite notary records until the 10th anniversary of the date of notarization.

C.S.H.B. 3657 creates a Class A misdemeanor offense for a notary public who knowingly performs any notarization, other than an online notarization, with knowledge that the signer, grantor, or maker for whom the notarization is performed did not personally appear before the notary at the time the notarization is executed. The bill enhances from a Class A misdemeanor to a third degree felony the penalty for the offense if the document being notarized involves the transfer of real property.

C.S.H.B. 3657 requires the secretary of state to adopt rules necessary to establish education requirements for appointment as a notary public and continuing education requirements for reappointment. However, the bill prohibits the rules from requiring a person appointed as a notary public before September 1, 2023, to complete education requirements required for initial appointment on or after that date. The bill conditions a person’s appointment or reappointment as a notary public on successful completion of the applicable education requirements. C.S.H.B. 3657 requires the secretary of state to adopt rules necessary to implement the bill’s provisions not later than January 1, 2024.

IMPACT:  Additional liabilities, responsibilities and requirements imposed on Texas Notaries without any increase in the fees allowed for services. Last fee increase was made in 1995. Other States provide a $15 minimum!

C.S.H.B. 3657 was left pending in the Senate. 

H.B. 255 Relating to notaries public; increasing the amount of certain fees. Was sent to Governor on 5-22-2023 and is pending his signature or implementation by operation of law, if not signed.

S.B. 1780 Relating to Online Notarizations. By Senator Parker and Representative Capriglione passed and is effective on 1/1/2024.