BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







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        |Hearing Date:March 22, 2010        |Bill No:AB                         |
        |                                   |1431                               |
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                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS 
                               AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
                         Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, Chair

                          Bill No:        AB 1431Author:Hill
                        As Amended:March 9, 2010 Fiscal:   Yes

        
        SUBJECT:  Geologists and geophysicists.
        
        SUMMARY:  Renames the Board for Professional Engineers and Land  
        Surveyors and increases the Board membership from 13 to 14 by adding a  
        licensed geologist or geophysicist to the Board.

        Existing law:

        1) Licenses and regulates engineers and land surveyors by the Board  
           for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (Board) within the  
           Department of Consumer Affairs.

        2) Provides that the Board is made up of 13 members, consisting of 6  
           professional members 
        (5 engineers and 1 land surveyor) and 7 public members.

           a)   The Governor appoints 5 public members and the 6 professional  
             members.

           b)   The Senate Rules Committee and the Speaker of the Assembly  
             each appoint a public member.

        1) Establishes, effective October 23, 2009, that the Board shall  
           succeed to and is vested with all the duties, powers, purposes,  
           responsibilities, and jurisdiction previously vested in the Board  
           for Geologists and Geophysicists (BGG), thereby requiring the Board  
           to administer the Geologists and Geophysicists Act.

        This bill:

        1) Renames the Board as the Board for Professional Engineers, Land  





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           Surveyors and Geologists.

        2) Increases the membership of the Board from 13 to 14 by adding a  
           professional member licensed under the Geologist and Geophysicist  
           Act.

        3) Makes technical, conforming and clarifying changes.


        FISCAL EFFECT:  The Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis, dated  
        January 21, 2010, indicates minor costs of less than $20,000 per year  
        to the Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Fund, a Special Fund.

        COMMENTS:
        
        1. Purpose.  This bill is sponsored by  Professional Engineers in  
           California Government  (PECG) to rename the Board for Professional  
           Engineers and Land Surveyors to the Board for Professional  
           Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists, and increase the  
           membership of the Board from 13 to 14 by adding a professional  
           member licensed under the Geologists and Geophysicists Act.

        In 2009, the Legislature approved and the Governor signed ABX4 20  
           (Strickland, Chapter 18, Statutes of 2009, effective October 23,  
           2009).  One provision of that bill consolidated the BGG into the  
           Board, thereby transferring all licensing and regulatory  
           responsibilities for licensed geologists and geophysicists to the  
           Board.  However, the legislation did not change the name of the  
           Board to reflect its new responsibilities, nor did it include a  
           licensed geologist or geophysicist on the Board now overseeing  
           geologist and geophysicists.  This bill would make those changes. 

        2. Hearing on Governor's Elimination, Consolidation and Reorganization  
           Proposals.  In the summer of 2009, the Business, Professions and  
           Economic Development Committee (Committee) convened a hearing on  
           the Governor's Elimination, Consolidation and Reorganization  
           Proposals made in the May Revision of the 2009-2010 State Budget.   
           The Budget Conference Committee had requested that the Committee  
           consider a number of the specific elimination, consolidation and  
           reorganization proposals made by the Governor, as well as other  
           consolidation proposals identified by the Committee.  In the  
           hearing, the Committee received testimony from the Administration,  
           the departments, boards and bureaus that would be affected by the  
           proposed changes, the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO), the  
           Center for Public Interest Law, professional associations, members  
           of the regulated professions, and members of the public.  The  





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           Committee made its recommendations in a Report to the Conference  
           Committee.  Those recommendations and the legislative changes  
           necessary to implement the recommendations were the bases for ABX4  
           20.

        At that hearing, the Committee considered 13 separate consolidation or  
           elimination proposals, including whether the BGG should be  
           consolidated with the State Mining and Geology Board.  That  
           proposal was approved on an 8-1 vote.  Ultimately, during Budget  
           negotiations, that recommendation was modified to consolidate the  
           Board of Geologists and Geophysicists with the Board for  
           Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.  Those changes were  
           included in ABX4 20 (Strickland, Chapter 18, Statutes of 2009).

        3. Background on Consolidation Efforts.  Over that last fifteen years,  
           a number of efforts have been made to merge or consolidate the BGG  
           into other regulatory agencies.  In 1994, the Business and  
           Professions Committee initially reviewed whether the BGG should be  
           merged with another entity including the Board.  At that time, no  
           changes were made to BGG.  In 1996 and again in 1999, the Joint  
           Legislative Sunset Review Committee (Sunset Review Committee) and  
           DCA reviewed the Geology Board and both DCA and the Sunset Review  
           Committee recommended BGG be continued as an independent board and  
           not be combined with any other entity.

        In 2004, the Governor's California Performance Review (CPR)  
           recommendation was to combine BGG with the Board of Mining and  
           Geology and place the new board under the Division of Land  
           Management within the proposed new Department of Natural Resources.  
            LAO and the Administration's CPR Commission rejected this  
           proposal.  The Governor's Reorganization Plan which included  
           converting the BGG to a bureau was rejected by the Legislature, and  
           ultimately withdrawn by the Administration.

        4. Arguments in Support.  The Sponsor argues in support that changing  
           the makeup and name of the Board is good policy and common sense so  
           that the title reflects the professions the Board is licensing.   
           The Sponsor further believes that fairness and common sense  
           requires that the Board include at least one licensee.  It is not  
           reasonable for a Board to oversee a profession without any  
           professional representation of that profession, according to the  
           Sponsor. 

        With the latest amendments to remove the term "Geophysicist" from the  
           proposed name, the  Board for Professional Engineers and Land  
           Surveyors  is in support of the bill, stating:





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             The Board's position is not intended to slight geophysicists;  
             the Board does not believe that it is necessary to include  
             their title in the name of the Board.  In response to the  
             argument that geophysicists are a practice protected group of  
             licensees, so are the engineering professions of civil,  
             electrical, and mechanical engineers and those titles are not  
             currently included in the name of the Board.  Furthermore, the  
             200 California licensed geophysicists are not hired by your  
             average public consumer; they are hired by a more  
             sophisticated consumer.  Therefore, being able to locate the  
             Board that regulates geophysicists would not be an issue.

        5. Arguments in Opposition.  The  Association of Environmental and  
           Engineering Geologists  (AEG) has taken an oppose unless amended  
           position on the bill, urging that the bill be amended to:  (1)  
           maintain the number of Board members at 13 members, the current  
           level; (2) add one geophysicist to the Board; (3) add  
           "Geophysicist" to the name of the Board; 
        (4) revise Business and Professions Code  6712 to make conforming  
           changes regarding the Governor's authority to appoint the new Board  
           members.  

        AEG believes increasing the size of the Board will result in decreased  
           efficiency, and suggests that the Board remain at the current level  
           of 13 members by exchanging the two title act positions currently  
           on the Board (one structural engineer; one of the remaining  
           branches of engineering) with two Geologist and Geophysicist Act  
           licensees.

        AEG further argues that as a title act license, the practice of  
           structural engineering does not require a structural engineer  
           license; and the same is true for the remaining branches of  
           engineering, other than civil, mechanical, and electrical, but the  
           practice of geology and geophysics does require a license in  
           California.  According to AEG, practice acts exist because the  
           public and the Legislature have determined that licensure of those  
           professions is necessary for public protection; and it therefore  
           follows that "a board's professional members must be licensed under  
           the board's practice acts in order for those members to be  
           considered qualified to address public safety-related issues  
           related to their profession."

        6. Policy Issue:  Public Member Majority.  Over the last 15 years, the  
           Legislature has made significant strides with the consumer boards  
           under DCA in balancing the professional and public representation  





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           in board membership.  The Legislature has consistently moved toward  
           having greater public representation on consumer boards, and has  
           established public member majorities on all non-health boards  
           (except for the California Architects Board which has 5  
           professional and 5 public members), and several health-related  
           boards have public member majorities (Board of Podiatric Medicine,  
           Acupuncture Board, Board of Behavioral Sciences, Board of  
           Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians).  

        In 2001, the Sunset Review Committee, addressed the balance of public  
           and professional on DCA boards as a "crosscutting issue" under  
           sunset review, stating:  

             As a general rule, consumer protection is best served when  
             consumers have balanced representation on the boards under the  
             Department's purview.  Consumers are generally represented by  
             a board's public members.  Prior to the initiation of the  
             sunset review process, many boards had more professional  
             members than public members.  The sunset review process has  
             been effective in bringing greater balance to most Department  
             boards . . . The primary rationale for professional members on  
             licensing boards is their understanding of the profession they  
             regulate.

          Since that time, based upon the Sunset Review Committee and  
          Administration recommendations, several bills have been enacted  
          which have moved the boards to greater consumer representation.

          In its current form, this bill would add a licensed geologist or  
          geophysicist to the Board, increasing the membership to 14 members  
          and making the number of professional members equal to the number of  
          public members.  In order to maintain a  public   member   majority  on  
          the Board, staff recommends amending the bill to include an  
          additional public member, bringing the total Board membership to 15 
          (7 professional, 8 public members).


        SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION:
        
         Support:   

        Professional Engineers in California Government (Sponsor)
        Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors


         Opposition:  





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        Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists



        Consultant:G. V. Ayers