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Judiciary panel OKs bill allowing notaries to perform civil marriages

Rep. John Huot (DFL-Rosemount) said Tuesday that a bill he sponsors to allow notary publics to perform marriages is very personal.

Huot was once asked by a friend to officiate and solemnize a wedding. To do so, he went online and got ordained by the “Church of the Stars.”

“Lo and behold, what I found out when I did that … I just took my chances out to becoming a deacon in the Catholic church,” Huot said. “That upsets me.”

He sponsors HF227, which he hopes would prevent others from unknowingly experiencing the same fate with similar religious “conflict of interest” rules.

The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee approved the bill, as amended, and sent it to the House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee.

The proposal would not automatically grant all notaries in the state the power to perform and certify civil marriages. Rather, only those who file their notary credentials with a county registrar could do so.

The fee charged to perform a wedding would not be subject the $5 cap notaries can now charge to notarize legal documents.

Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville), the committee chair, noted that all members of the Legislature are by default notary publics, and the proposal would allow lawmakers to perform weddings if they file their certificate of election with a county registrar.

A similar bill sponsored by Huot last session was included in the omnibus judiciary and civil law policy bill. It did not advance off the House Floor.

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