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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mid-Year Legislative Update

With most state legislatures having concluded their business for the year, here is the 2009 mid-year legislative update.

Revised Article 1

As of January 1, 2009, Revised Article 1 was in effect in thirty-four states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Notwithstanding my suggestion elsewhere that the substitute § R1-301 NCCUSL and the ALI promulgated last year might “grease the skids” for additional enactments this year, 2009 has turned out to be a relatively quiet legislative year for Revised Article 1, with only three enactments -- down from five in 2008, and seven in 2007. While the most noteworthy nonuniformity among the thirty-seven enactments remains the definition of “good faith” -- with 26 states having adopted the uniform § R1-201(b)(20) definition and 11 having retained the pre-revised definition that imposes a different good faith standard on merchants and non-merchants -- all three 2009 enactments adopt the uniform definition and one of the eleven states (Indiana) that retained the pre-revised definition has amended its version of Revised Article 1 to adopt the uniform definition effective July 1, 2010.

As of June 30, Alaska (HB 102), Maine (LD 1403), and Oregon (SB 558) have enacted Revised Article 1 thus far this year. The Alaska and Oregon enactments take effect on January 1, 2010, with Maine’s following on February 15, 2010.

The Washington legislature failed to act on SB 5155 before adjourning sine die on April 26. (That’s probably just as well, because the introduced version of SB 5155 appeared to be drawn directly from the language of official Revised Article 1 circa 2001 and included the no-longer-official version of Revised 1-301 that all 37 enacting states have declined to adopt).

It is possible that the Massachusetts legislature will consider a Revised Article 1 bill sometime this year; however, having waited months for HD 89 to be assigned a bill number, and given the failure of four prior bills to garner a floor vote in either chamber, I would be surprised to see definitive action anytime soon.

Article 2 and 2A Amendments

As of June 30, 2009, only three state legislatures (Kansas, Nevada, and Oklahoma) had considered bills proposing to enact the 2003 amendments to UCC Articles 2 and 2A. In 2005, Oklahoma amended Sections 2-105 and 2A-103 of its Commercial Code to add that the definition of “goods” for purposes of Articles 2 and 2A, respectively, “does not include information,” see 12A Okla. Stat. Ann. §§ 2-105(1) & 2A-103(1)(h) (West Supp. 2008), and amended its Section 2-106 to add that “contract for sale” for purposes of Article 2 “does not include a license of information,” see id. § 2-106(1). The net effect is similar to having enacted Amended §§ 2-103(k) & 2A-103(1)(n), both of which exclude information from the meaning of “goods” for purposes of Article 2 and 2A, respectively. Otherwise, no state has enacted the 2003 amendments.

Article 3 and 4 Amendments

As of January 1, 2009, the 2002 amendments to Articles 3 and 4 were in effect in six states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas. By July 1, 2010, that number will increase by at least 50%.

As of June 30, 2009, Indiana (SB 501), New Mexico (SB 74), and Oklahoma (SB 991) have enacted the 2002 amendments to Articles 3 and 4. Oklahoma SB 991 will take effect on November 1, 2009; New Mexico SB 74 will take effect on January 1, 2010; and Indiana SB 501 will take effect on July 1, 2010.

In addition to enacting the 2002 amendments to Articles 3 and 4 and the usual conforming amendments, Indiana SB 501 also revises the definition of “good faith” in Ind. Code § 26-1-1-201(19) to require all parties to act honestly and to observe reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing. At present, Ind. Code § 26-1-1-201(19) requires only “honesty in fact.” Like the rest of SB 501, this change will take effect July 1, 2010, and further tip the balance among enacting states in favor of the unitary good faith definition in uniform § R1-201(b)(20).

Revised Article 7

As of January 1, 2009, Revised UCC Article 7 was in effect in thirty-one states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. As of July 1, Revised Article 7 will be in effect in South Dakota, as well.

This has been a relatively active legislative year for Revised Article 7. In addition to South Dakota SB 89, which takes effect on July 1, Alaska (HB 102), Maine (LD 1405), and Oregon (SB 558) have already enacted Revised Article 7 in 2009, and Louisiana HB 403 lacks only Governor Bobby Jindal's signature (or pocket veto). Alaska HB 102 and Oregon SB 558 will take effect on January 1, 2010, as will Louisiana HB 403 (if enacted). Maine LD 1405 will take effect on February 15, 2010.

Georgia HB 451 made significant progress toward adoption. First introduced on February 18, the Georgia House unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee’s substitute version on March 12, and the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended passage on March 26. However, the legislature adjourned on April 3 without a third reading and final action in the senate.

Washington SB 5154 stalled, like its Revised Article 1 counterpart, but without as compelling a reason.

UETA

Although the Georgia legislature did not pass HB 451 prior to adjourning, it did pass the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (HB 126), to which Governor Sonny Perdue affixed his signature on May 5. As a result, effective July 1, 2009, Illinois, New York, and Washington will be the only states in which UETA is not in effect.

[Keith A. Rowley]

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