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No notary needed

Seems reasonable.

Many Houston business owners are celebrating a new ordinance that drops the need for a notary when applying for hundreds of permits and allows the city to offer more applications online.

The Houston City Council lauded the change as business friendly and tech savvy.

“So many of the permits require you to notarize your statements, which makes it difficult to do things online,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “We think you ought to be able to get virtually any permit from the city of Houston online.”

A state law passed in 2011 cleared the way.

A one-page bill, authored by Galveston Democrat Rep. Craig Eiland and passed without much attention, allows governments and courts, for the first time outside of prisons, to use unsworn declarations instead of notarized affidavits.

The same punishments for perjury are connected to the declarations, which favor simple language over legal terminology.

“It just means you don’t need to have a notary put a stamp next to it,” said Bruce Haupt, the city’s deputy assistant finance director. “It makes the paperwork side of this a lot easier.”

Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League, said he is unaware of any other cities updating their ordinances since the 2011 law. Like many business leaders, it was the first he heard of Eiland’s bill. “It sounds like Houston’s on top of it,” Sandlin said.

Like I said, seems reasonable to me. There’s no opposition quoted in the story, so if there’s an argument for requiring notarization of all these forms, I’m not aware of it. Generally speaking, reducing paperwork and letting stuff like this happen online is the direction we want to go. Anyone know of a reason why not? Please leave a comment and let us know.

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2 Comments

  1. matx says:

    This is a great thing. It will save time because an entity seeking a new permit or change to an existing one will not have to go to the permitting center on Washington (lovely thought it is, and the employees have always been professional and pleasant). It will also save money, because even though the employee checking your paperwork acts as the notary, so there is no separate wait and no need to get it notarized beforehand, there is a charge tacked on.

    This has been my experience when I needed to handle permitting issues for a church/preschool I worked for. The only people who will have a reason to complain anymore will be those who try to cheat and get caught. Not only has the city consolidated permitting offices, it has made it easier to cross reference things like occupancy and fire permits, so if there is a discrepancy in an account it will get red-flagged right away.

  2. Linkmeister says:

    Despite your placement of the notary trade association’s logo in the post, did even they grumble about this? (This is one of Yglesias’s pet bugaboos, of course; credentialism limiting competition.) In this case, I imagine some legislators got lobbied years ago by the notaries and it stuck.

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