BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 811
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   May 7, 2013

              ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS AND CONSUMER  
                                     PROTECTION
                              Richard S. Gordon, Chair
                   AB 811 (Lowenthal) - As Amended:  April 9, 2013
           
          SUBJECT  :   Excavations: regional notification center system:  
          contractor certification.

           SUMMARY  :   Requires regional excavation notification centers to  
          post on their Internet Web sites statewide information provided  
          by subsurface installation operators and excavators regarding  
          excavation notification and marking violations and related  
          damages.

           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Requires, except in an emergency, any excavator planning to  
            perform an excavation to notify the appropriate regional  
            notification center two to 14 days prior to the excavation  
            date, in areas known to contain subsurface installations not  
            owned by the excavator and to mark the excavation area.  
            (Government Code (Gov. Code) Section 4216.2) 

          2)Requires an operator of a subsurface installation, upon  
            receiving a planned excavation notice, to locate and mark the  
            number of subsurface installations that may be affected by the  
            excavation, as specified. (Gov, Code 4216.3)

          3)Requires an excavator to determine the exact location of  
            marked subsurface installations using hand tools prior to  
            using power-driven equipment at the site.  (Gov. Code 4216.4)

          4)Requires an excavator who damages a subsurface installation to  
            immediately notify the operator of the subsurface installation  
            or contact 911 emergency services, as specified. (Gov. Code  
            4216.4)

          5)Provides that an excavator or operator who violates excavation  
            requirements to be subject to the following: 

             a)   A civil penalty up to $10,000 for negligent violations; 

             b)   A civil penalty up to $50,000 for knowing and willful  








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               violations; 

             c)   Additional civil remedies provided for in law for  
               personal injury and property damages; 

             d)   Any actions brought forth by the Attorney General (AG),  
               district attorney, or local or state agency that issued the  
               excavation permit, to enforce the civil penalties listed  
               above. (Gov. Code 4216); or, 

             e)   And, if the contractor is the excavator, any  
               disciplinary action by the Contractors' State License Board  
               (CSLB). 

          6)Provides for the licensing and regulation of construction  
            contractors by the CSLB within the Department of Consumer  
            Affairs. (Business and Professions Code Section 7000, et seq.)  


          7)Creates the following definitions: 

             a)   "Excavation" to mean any operation in which earth, rock,  
               or other material in the ground is moved, removed, or  
               otherwise displaced by means of tools, equipment, or  
               explosives in any of the following ways:  grading,  
               trenching, digging, ditching, drilling, augering,  
               tunneling, scraping, cable or pipe plowing and driving, or  
               any other way; 

             b)   "Excavator" to mean any person, firm, contractor or  
               subcontractor, owner, operator, utility, association,  
               corporation, partnership, business trust, public agency, or  
               other entity that, with their, or his or her, own employees  
               or equipment performs any excavation; 

             c)   "Operator" to mean any person, corporation, partnership,  
               business trust, public agency, or other entity that owns,  
               operates, or maintains a subsurface installation; 

             d)   "Regional notification center" to mean a non-profit  
               association or other organization of operators of  
               subsurface installations that provides advance warning of  
               excavations or other work close to existing subsurface  
               installations, for the purpose of protecting those  
               installations from damage, removal, relocation, or repair;  








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               and, 

             e)   "Subsurface installation" to mean any underground  
               pipeline, conduit, duct, wire, or other structure, except  
               non-pressurized sewer lines, non-pressurized storm drains,  
               or other non-pressurized drain lines. (Gov. Code 4216)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   None.  This bill is keyed non-fiscal by the  
          Legislative Counsel.

          COMMENTS  :   

           1)Purpose of this bill  .  This bill requires regional excavation  
            notification centers to post on their Internet Web sites  
            information from operators and excavators regarding violations  
            of excavation notification and marking requirements and  
            resulting damages,.  The author contends that reporting and  
            collection of excavation violation data by regulatory entities  
            is inconsistent and should be made publicly available due to  
            the dangers that excavation violations can present to the  
            public.  This bill is sponsored by the Underground Service  
            Alert of Northern California and Nevada, and the Underground  
            Service Alert of Southern California. 

           2)Author's statement  .  According to the author's office, "AB 811  
            requires the regional notification centers to post dig-in  
            related information on their Web sites?  Many excavators fail  
            to notify the [regional] call centers of their intent to  
            perform excavation activity [in violation of existing law].   
            In addition, many [excavators] fail to properly excavate near  
            the properly marked facilities.  The most significant  
            violation is beginning excavation prior to receiving a  
            response detailing any subsurface facilities.  These  
            violations cause millions of dollars in damages.  

            "There are thousands of dig-in incidents that happen every  
            year, we just don't learn about them.  California does not  
            have any statewide data on dig-in incidents.  This information  
            will help the Legislature evaluate and identify the  
            deficiencies in current law, allowing us to make better public  
            policy decisions." 

           3)Regional notification centers  .  Current law requires an  
            individual or entity wishing to perform an excavation and dig,  
            drill, or bore below the ground to inform the regional  








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            notification center of a planned excavation, so owners of  
            underground facilities in the area can mark their facilities  
            and prevent excavators from damaging their property.  Regional  
            notification centers in California include, but are not  
            limited to, the South Shore Utility Coordinating Council, the  
            Underground Service Alert - Northern California, and the  
            Underground Service Alert - Southern California.  The author's  
            office has provided examples of fatalities, fires,  
            evacuations, and damages resulting from excavators severing  
            underground gas pipelines.

            CSLB describes a regional notification center as "an  
            association of owners and operators of subsurface  
            installations (water, gas, electric, telephone, sewer, oil  
            lines, etc.).  Damage to underground structures may result in  
            the disruption of essential services and pose a threat to  
            workers, the public, and environmental safety.  The purpose of  
            the center is to provide a single telephone number that  
            excavators can use to give the center's members advance  
            notification of their intent to excavate.  The operators of  
            the underground installations are then responsible for  
            providing information about the locations of the facility, or  
            marking or staking the approximate location of their facility,  
            or advising the excavator of clearance.  The operators are  
            only responsible for any facility they own." 

            Contractors who do not need an excavation permit are exempt  
            from excavation notification requirements.  Excavators who  
            damage subsurface installations are required to notify  
            operators and depending on the severity, 911 emergency  
            services.  

           4)Penalties for notification violations  .  Excavators and  
            operators who negligently or willfully violate notification  
            and marking procedures may be fined or subject to additional  
            civil damages.  Existing law limits penalties for negligent  
            excavation to no more than $10,000, and violations that are  
            knowing and willful to no more than $50,000. 
          
            This bill would require regional notification centers to post  
            on their Web sites statewide information provided by  
            excavators and operators on excavation notification violations  
            and the damages caused by those violations. 
          
           5)Arguments in support  .  According to the sponsor, the  








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            Underground Service Alert of Northern California and Nevada  
            (USA North 811) "supports safe excavation practices and  
            believes it is important to protect homeowners, contractors,  
            and excavators from the dangers associated with digging before  
            calling.  AB 811 would further the common goal of excavation  
            safety through the creation of a statewide information  
            database on damages that would be submitted anonymously and  
            voluntarily by damage prevention stakeholders." 
             
             According to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E),  
            "Excavation damage is among the leading causes of pipeline  
            accidents in the United States.  In 2012, PG&E experienced  
            over 1,000 incidents where a third party dug into its natural  
            gas pipelines or electric power lines without calling [a  
            regional notification center].  Striking and damaging  
            underground gas and electric lines create a serious safety  
            concern for the excavator and the public.  It can also impact  
            gas and electric service to homes, schools and hospitals in  
            the community?  By gathering information in a central  
            location, regulators, infrastructure operators, and excavators  
            can have a common source of information from which to identify  
            potential problems and use to develop solutions." 

           6)Previous legislation  .  AB 1514 (Lowenthal) of 2012 would have  
            increased civil penalties for violations of excavation laws  
            and would have authorized the Public Utilities Commission to  
            prescribe rules for public utilities that are conduct  
            subsurface operations and provide information to the State  
            Attorney General or local district attorney on matters  
            involving excavation violations.  AB 1514 was held in Assembly  
            Appropriations Committee.  

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Underground Service Alert of Northern California and Nevada  
          (co-sponsor) 
          Underground Service Alert of Southern California (co-sponsor) 
          AT&T
          Pacific Gas and Electric Company
          Southern California Edison
                                    
           Opposition 
           








                                                                  AB 811
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          None on file. 
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Joanna Gin / B.,P. & C.P. / (916)  
          319-3301