BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    







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        |Hearing Date: April 1, 2013        |Bill No:SB                         |
        |                                   |152                                |
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                      SENATE COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS 
                               AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
                          Senator Curren D. Price, Jr., Chair
                                           

                           Bill No:        SB 152Author:Roth
                      As Amended:March 19, 2013       Fiscal:Yes

        
        SUBJECT:  Licensed professionals:  engineers: geologists:  
        geophysicists.
        
        SUMMARY:  Repeals the provision for a temporary authorization to  
        practice engineering, geology or geophysics in California; requires a  
        geologist or geophysicist to use a written contract when providing  
        geological or geophysical services.

        Existing law:
        
       1)Licenses and regulates professional engineers, land surveyors,  
          geologists and geophysicists by the Board for Professional  
          Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists (Board) within the  
          Department of Consumer Affairs.

       2)Regulates, under the Professional Engineers Act (Engineering Act),  
          three branches of engineering as "practice acts" (civil, mechanical,  
          and electrical), nine branches of engineering as "title acts"  
          (agricultural, chemical, control system, fire protection,  
          industrial, metallurgical, nuclear, petroleum, and traffic), and two  
          "title authorities" (structural and soil).  Any person registered  
          under a practice act by the Board may perform engineering work in  
          California.  (Business and Professions Code (BPC)  6700, ff.)

       3)Requires a professional engineer to use a written contract containing  
          specified elements when providing engineering services to a client,  
          and provides specific exemptions from the contract requirement.   
          (BPC  6749)

       4)Provides for a temporary authorization to practice engineering for a  





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          specific project upon application, payment of a specified fee for a  
          period of not more than 180 days, if the applicant meets certain  
          requirements:  (BPC  6760)

           a)   Does not maintain a place of business in California.

           b)   Is legally qualified to practice in that branch of engineering  
             in the state or country where he or she maintains a place of  
             business.

           c)   Appears before the Board and demonstrates satisfactory  
             evidence of the knowledge to practice in that branch of  
             engineering.

           d)   Passes an examination on state laws and regulations.

           e)   Submits written notification to the Board of the intention to  
             practice, and specific details about the date and duration of the  
             project.

       5)Authorizes the Board to investigate and discipline a license or  
          temporary authorization to practice professional engineering.  (BPC  
           6775)

       6)Authorizes the Board to establish fees, as specified, including a fee  
          for temporary authorization of not more than 25% of the application  
          fee.  (BPC  6799)

       7)Regulates the practice of geology and geophysics under the Geologist  
          and Geophysicist Act, and provides that any person registered as a  
          geologist or geophysicist by the Board may perform work under that  
          registration in California.  (BPC  7800, ff.)

       8)Provides for a temporary authorization to practice geology or  
          geophysics for a specific project upon application, payment of a  
          specified fee for a period of not more than 60 consecutive days in a  
          year, if the applicant meets certain requirements:  (BPC  7848,  
          7848.1)

           a)   Does not maintain a place of business in California.

           b)   Is legally qualified to practice geology or geophysics in the  
             state or country where he or she maintains a place of business.

           c)   Appears before the Board or a Board committee and demonstrates  
             satisfactory evidence of the knowledge to practice in that phase  





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             of geology or geophysics.

           d)   If the applicant demonstrates that the specific project will  
             require more than 60 consecutive calendar days, the Board may  
             extend the authorization period up to a total of 120 days.

       9)Authorizes the Board to investigate and discipline a license or  
          temporary authorization to practice geology or geophysics.  (BPC   
          7860)

       10)Authorizes the Board to establish fees, as specified, including a  
          fee for temporary authorization of not more than $80.  (BPC  7887)

       11)Regulates the practice of land surveying under the Professional Land  
          Surveyors Act, and provides that a land surveyor licensed by the  
          Board may perform land surveying work in California.  (BPC  8700  
          ff.)

       12)Requires a licensed land surveyor to use a written contract  
          containing specified elements when providing land surveying services  
          to a client, and provides specific exemptions from the contract  
          requirement.  (BPC  8759)

        This bill:

       1)Repeals the provision for a temporary authorization to practice  
          engineering in California and makes conforming changes.

       2)Repeals the provision for a temporary authorization to practice  
          geology or geophysics in California and makes conforming changes.

       3)Requires a geologist or geophysicist to use a written contract  
          containing specified elements when providing geological or  
          geophysical services to a client, and provides specific exemptions  
          from the contract requirement.

        FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.  This bill has been keyed "fiscal" by  
        Legislative Counsel.

        COMMENTS:
        
       1.Purpose.  This bill is  Sponsored  by the  Board for Professional  
          Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists  (Board) to establish  
          statutory provisions to require geologists and geophysicists to use  
          written contracts.






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       According to the Author, professional engineers and land surveyors use  
          written contracts with clients when providing professional services.  
           The Board believes that written contracts are beneficial to both  
          the consumer and the licensee.  Currently there is not a statutory  
          requirement that professional geologists and geophysicists execute  
          written contracts with their clients prior to performing services.

       The Board indicates that temporary authorizations can pose a risk to  
          the health and safety of the consumers of California because  
          individuals not licensed in California may not be familiar with the  
          terrain, soils, and seismic activity that are specific to  
          California, according to the Board.  The Board also believes there  
          is no apparent benefit to California consumers to allow temporary  
          authorizations.

       2.Background.

            a.   Written Contracts  .  Geologists and Geophysicists are the only  
             licensed profession that does not require written contracts for  
             the performance of services.  Written contracts protect all  
             parties in complex transactions and ensure fair contracting and  
             billing practices. 

           All other design and building professionals regulated by the  
             Department of Consumer Affairs, including architects,  
             contractors, engineers and land surveyors, have written contract  
             requirements.  Written contracts enhance protection of consumers  
             by ensuring fair contracting and billing practices.  They also  
             protect the profession by ensuring that both parties understand  
             the essential terms of a professional contract.

           By requiring geologists and geophysicists to use a written contract  
             when providing professional services to a client, this bill would  
             bring the practice of geology and geophysics in line with the  
             other licensed design and construction professions in California.

            b.   Temporary Authorization  .  Temporary authorizations allow  
             individuals who are not licensed in California to perform  
             engineering and geological work in the State.  The Board does not  
             grant temporary licenses; however, the law does provide for the  
             Board to grant temporary authorization for an individual licensed  
             in another state to work on a specific job in California.  To  
             obtain a temporary authorization the person must apply and pay  
             the fee, and personally appear before the board to demonstrate  
             that they have the knowledge to practice in the area relating to  
             that project.  Engineer applicants must take and pass a take-home  





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             examination and provide detailed information about the specific  
             project for the Board to review.  An engineering temporary  
             authorization is for 180 days, and for geology and geophysics, a  
             temporary authorization is for 60 days and may be extended by the  
             Board to 120 days for the calendar year.

           According to the Board, since 1995, there have been 40 engineering  
             temporary authorizations granted.  Of that number, 20 went on to  
             become licensed in California, 7 failed the licensing  
             examination, and 13 did not apply for a California license.  The  
             Board states that it has a record of only one temporary  
             authorization being granted for a geologist in 2012, and that  
             applicant later received a California license.  Board staff  
             states that they do not have any knowledge of a temporary  
             authorization ever being granted for geophysics in California.

           The Board states that BPC  8753, which related to temporary  
             authorization to practice as a professional land surveyor, was  
             repealed in 2005.

       3.Temporary Authorization - Consumer Protection.  There is a question  
          of the ability of the Board to protect consumers through its  
          investigatory and disciplinary process if there are problems with an  
          out of state licensee practicing under temporary authorization.   
          Temporary authorizations are for a specific project and for a  
          limited timeframe (not more than 180 days for engineers, and 60 to  
          120 days for geologists and geophysicists), and it does not appear  
          that the Board has any agreements with other states to take action  
          when a licensee from that state violates the law while practicing  
          under temporary authorization in California.

       It is noted that California law gives the Board the authority to  
          investigate and discipline a temporary authorization, but any  
          protection under that authority may be illusory.  The temporary  
          authorization only lasts for a short period of time, and any  
          investigation or disciplinary action by the board would typically  
          come after the expiration of the temporary authorization.  It would  
          appear that the Board would have no real ability to take any action  
          in such a case.

       The Board states:  "There is also less accountability for an individual  
          with a temporary authorization for their work.  If they are not  
          licensed in California and do not reside in this state, it can be  
          difficult locating the individual and securing their cooperation, if  
          necessary, after the temporary work has been completed."






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       4.Related Legislation.
       
        SB 543  (Steinberg and Price, Chapter 448, Statutes of 2011) extended  
          the inoperative and repeal dates (sunset dates) of the Board as well  
          as for several other regulatory boards from January 1, 2012 to  
          January 1, 2016, and made several updates to the regulatory law,  
          including requiring fingerprinting of new licensees, eliminates the  
          supplemental, California specific examination for structural  
          engineers, and establishes the Geology and Geophysics Account within  
          the Professional Engineer's and Land Surveyor's Fund.
        
          AB 1431  (Hill, Chapter 696, Statutes of 2010) renamed the Board for  
          Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, to become the Board for  
          Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists, and increased  
          the Board membership from 13 to 15 by adding a licensed geologist or  
          geophysicist to the Board, and one public member.

           AB X4 20  (Strickland, Chapter 18, Statutes of 2009) made a number of  
          consolidations related to the 2009-2010 State Budget, including  
          consolidating the Board of Geologists and Geophysicists with the  
          Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.

           SB 228  (Figueroa, Chapter 657, Statutes of 2005), among other  
          things, extended the sunset date for the Board, and made various  
          changes to the licensing law.  This bill also repealed BPC  8735,  
          the temporary authorization for a land surveyor licensed in another  
          state to practice land surveying on a specific project in  
          California. 

       5.Arguments in Support.  In sponsoring the bill, the  Board for  
          Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists  (Board)  
          states: 

             "SB 152 directly addresses the problem that currently there is  
             no statutory requirement for professional geologists and  
             geophysicists to execute written contracts with their clients  
             prior to performing work.  Professional engineers and land  
             surveyors are required to use written contracts and the Board  
             believes that written contracts are beneficial to both the  
             consumer and licensee.  SB 152 also addresses the problem of  
             temporary authorizations being issued to out-of-state  
             engineers, geologists and geophysicists to work on a project  
             in California who may not be familiar with the terrain, soils,  
             and seismic activity that are specific to California.  There  
             is also less accountability for an individual working with a  
             temporary authorization for their work."





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           The Board additionally argues that authorizing individuals from  
          other states to perform civil engineering and geological work in  
          California could limit the work available for the State's own  
          licensees.  "This can have an economic impact on the licensees in  
          this state.  California licensees should have every opportunity to  
          contract for work in California without having to compete with an  
          individual not licensed in this state to do the work."

           American Society of Civil Engineers, Region 9  supports the bill,  
          arguing that engineers who have been rigorously trained and tested  
          in accordance with State law better serve the public, and that  
          eliminating the authority of non-state licensed engineers to be  
          granted temporary authority to practice better serves that purpose.

       6.Conforming Amendment.  In repealing the temporary authorization  
          provisions, this bill deletes the temporary authorization fee for  
          engineering, but it does not delete the temporary authorization fee  
          for geology and geophysics.   Committee staff recommends a  
          corresponding conforming amendment to delete the temporary  
          authorization fee for geology and geophysics in paragraph (d) of  
          Section 7887.  








        SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION:
        
         Support:  

        Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists  
        (Sponsor)
        American Society of Civil Engineers, Region 9

         Opposition:  

        None received as of March 26, 2013



        Consultant:G. V. Ayers






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