Montana Revises Remote Online Notarization Laws to Match National Model
Four years ago, Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed Senate Bill 306 into law, making his state only the second to adopt remote online notarization after Virginia in 2011.
Much has changed in four years, but Montana’s commitment to the RON movement appears as strong as ever. The Montana Legislature has unanimously approved House Bill 370 to revise the state’s RON laws to align with the national model.
In February, Montana Majority Whip Becky Beard introduced H.B. 370 as a way to expand opportunities for the state’s remote notaries and strengthen the foundational efficiencies of RON. As it stands today, S.B. 306 does not conform with the current national models for RON, specifically around identity verification.
Where the national models allows a signer to prove their identity through credential analysis and knowledge-based authentication questions, Montana requires the signer to personally know the notary or be identified to the notary through a credible witness.
Additionally, with the exception of notarizations related to proxy marriages, S.B. 306 requires signers to be legal residents of Montana.
H.B. 370 aligns Montana remote notaries with model legislation from the Mortgage Bankers Association and American Land Title Association (MBA/ALTA Model Legislation for Remote Online Notarization), which was released well after S.B. 306 was signed into law.
The bill also puts Montana's legislation on par with Texas, which has become the current standard bearer for cutting-edge RON processes and management.
The first quarter of 2019 has been incredibly promising for the RON movement, as H.B. 370 is the sixth RON-related bill to pass this year. For comparison, six RON-related bills passed in all of 2018.
In March alone, South Dakota passed House Bill 1272, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed House Bill 1110 into law, Kentucky passed Senate Bill 114, and the Idaho Legislature passed Senate Bill 1111.
There’s still plenty of opportunities this year to bring the notarial act into the 21st century.