NGA seeks changes to electronic signature bills

The electronic signature legislation recently passed by the House and Senate

will help electronic commerce grow, the National Governors' Association

says, but it wants to ensure that states' own laws are not trampled in the

process.

"In a lot of states, they've taken action to move forward in terms of

electronic signatures," said Bret Hester, senior policy analyst at the NGA.

"We don't want to see any federal legislation pre-empt those laws."

The House and Senate versions of the bill aim to validate electronic

records and signatures in order to assist interstate and international commerce.

Hester said the NGA supports both versions, although they want "limited

changes that wouldn't alter the scope" of the bills.

South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges, chairman of the Economic Development

and Commerce Committee, and Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, vice-chairman

of the same committee, wrote a letter last month to leaders of Congress

to express the views of NGA.

In that letter, the governors said that many states have already adopted

or are in the process of adopting the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act,

which was approved last year by the National Conference of Commissioners

on Uniform State Laws.

"[W]e urge you," the letter reads, "to ensure that any electronic signature

legislation approved by Congress is compatible with the version of UETA

that was approved by the Uniform Law Commissioners and does not pre-empt

the laws of those states that adopt UETA in a uniform manner."

The letter singles out the House bill, saying it "would needlessly interfere

with many of these state laws, adversely affecting our ability to ensure

the safety and rights of consumers in our states, weakening our ability

to provide regulatory oversight of businesses and impeding our ability to

negotiate contracts in a way that reflects our fiduciary responsibilities

to our citizens."

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