AUGUSTA — Gov. Janet Mills signed a new law June 23 to temporarily enshrine pandemic-era remote notarization practices into law while the secretary of state, interest groups and consumer privacy experts work toward permanent practices for remote, online notarization.

LD 1399, sponsored by Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, continues the allowance from the April 8, 2020, Executive Order that temporarily suspended provisions of Maine law that require the physical presence of a notary or witness, with certain exceptions, until Jan. 1, 2023. The order ensured that Maine people, especially those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions, could conduct important business that requires sworn statements or affidavits with minimal in-person interaction.

“While these changes were initially made to ensure the health and safety of Mainers amidst a pandemic, in other states they’re commonplace, everyday laws,” Secretary of State Shana Bellows said. “As we work together on a framework for remote, online notarization in Maine, we’ll be assessing how to bring our state into the 21st century while also ensuring consumer protections and data privacy.”

Under the new law, Bellows will convene a working group made up of the Maine Association of Realtors, the Maine State Bar Association, Maine Bankers Association, Maine Credit Union League, Legal Services for the Elderly, Maine Registers of Deeds Association, Maine Real Estate and Development Association, Uniform Law Commission, Maine Probate and Trust Law Advisory Commission and others. With input from these organizations, the Bellows will conduct a study on remote and online notarization and submit a report, including recommended legislation, to the Legislature by Feb. 1, 2022.

Doudera represents Camden, Rockport and Islesboro in the Maine House.