Getting a Bill Passed at the Statehouse
This spring, LenderClose CEO Omar Jordan and COO Ben Rempe were instrumentally in getting new legislation passed. Iowa’s new e-notary law makes it legal to use electronic services to notarize documents versus only being able to do so in person.
Here’s a conversation with Ben and Omar on how they made this happen.
Why was it a problem or challenging to have to get documents notarized in person?
(Ben) Last June I walked into Omar’s office, and he was frustrated because we were having trouble getting a notary to show up at a closing in Orange City, Iowa. We got someone there, but it was more expensive and more difficult than it should have been. That’s what sparked our conversation about what it would take to get E-Notary in Iowa. First and foremost, in-person signings are time-consuming and not efficient. If you are in a rural area, elderly or disabled, it is a big ask to show up at loan closing or really do any type of business which requires a notary stamp. Omar and I knew there were a handful of states that were testing e-notary. We also know several vendors that are ready to get started as soon as it’s legal. And then there’s the fact that in-person notary fraud happens regularly and that e-notary was a safer more secure way. It seemed like the perfect time to begin moving this legislation forward.
(Omar) The idea goes beyond a single transaction. e-notary will allow businesses, not only in tech, to streamline the way they do business. Imagine a community bank being able to offer a wider footprint throughout the state. Or adoption documents which need to get executed in the presence of a notary now done digitally, a living will or someone that’s unable to travel as Ben highlighted. All of that and more will now be possible.
Signing documents in person at the notary’s office isn’t difficult. But if I can apply for a home loan via my cell phone, I should be able to sign my loan documents at the comfort of my home. It’s simply common sense legislation which we are glad everyone got behind.
How will an e-notary system benefit Iowans?
(Ben) It makes doing business much, much easier. And it allows for a more inclusive business environment. We’ve eliminated the need to physically sit in front of a notary, time savings here are tremendous.
(Omar) This opens up a new market for Iowans and Iowa businesses. Iowans will now have access to technology, which allows them to conduct transactions digitally – business, personal, and more. This not only takes care of Iowans. But it also opens new doors for Iowa businesses, law firms, mortgage companies, realtors and more.
How many other states have this service?
(Omar) There are a few states which do allow it but with certain variations and not as inclusive as the one passed in Iowa. The state of Virginia has done a great job with this in terms of being one of the first states to adopt this.
States which allow remote notarization: Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Utah, and Virginia.
How did you get involved at the statehouse to get this bill started?
(Ben) Somehow, I’ve developed a great network of lobbyists over the past few years. So I had an idea of what we needed to do and who we needed to be speaking to about this legislation. Getting the various trade associations lined up in support of the bill was the key to moving so quickly. Omar and I were invited to speak at the Iowa Senate and House sub-committee hearings. This gave us the ability to be subject matter experts on the topic and allowed the legislators to hear about real-life situations where e-notary is solving problems. Omar and I also became friends with Senator Charles Schneider after we met at a fundraising event. He was really helpful in guiding us through the process.
(Omar) I would like to also acknowledge State Sen Chris Cournoyer and Rep. Jon Jacobson for their immediate adoption to the concept.
Was the process what you expected?
(Ben) Yes and no. We knew that it was going to take a lot of work and we knew the steps. I don’t think we anticipated the bipartisan support for the bill. Although, I’m not sure why I didn’t expect it. The bill passed the Senate 48-0 and the House 95-2. So cool!
(Omar) Having a bill that makes sense and benefits Iowas and Iowa businesses is probably what helped push this to the finish line. I had no expectations going into this. But I knew we had to try to make a difference. And being in the notary business for almost 10 years before LenderClose, I felt I had enough education to go into this semi-prepared. It was exciting for Ben and me to be part of something that could potentially change the way business is done in Iowa and globally.
How do services like this help elevate Iowa’s profile as a technology state?
(Ben) I was thinking about my daughters who attended the bill signing, and how the Governor even said, “I wonder how this is going to make things different for you girls in the future.” That is so true. The bill passed, and nothing changed, yet. However, in two years, the way Iowans conduct business is going to change substantially. Once this is up and running the way we sign mortgage documents, last will and testaments, and other key documents will be completely different. It will be safer and more secure. It will be digital, and people will not have to leave their homes or offices to conduct business. This is the future; it is happening around us. States get to choose to be on the cutting edge or to be left behind. Today we decided to be on the cutting edge. Allowing technology to impact our lives positively does nothing but move the state forward.
(Omar) Iowa is becoming a trendsetter with the proper leadership in place. This is only the beginning of what will become the most innovative state in the union. Ben and I have experience in lending, and so we think of ways to disrupt by impacting the greater good. We encourage all Iowans and Iowa business owners to do the same.
This experience brought me to the realization that our elected officials do care about what we bring to them. So, let’s keep the conversations going. Let’s make sure we set the bar high and not be ok with the status quo.