BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                            



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                                    THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 152
          Author:   Roth (D)
          Amended:  4/8/13
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE BUSINESS, PROF. & ECON. DEV. COMM.  :  8-1, 4/1/13
          AYES:  Price, Block, Corbett, Hernandez, Hill, Padilla, Wyland,  
            Yee
          NOES:  Galgiani
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Emmerson

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMM  :  Senate Rule 28.8


           SUBJECT  :    Licensed professionals:  engineers:  geologists:   
          geophysicists

           SOURCE  :     Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors,  
          and Geologists


           DIGEST  :    This bill repeals the provision for a temporary  
          authorization to practice engineering, geology or geophysics in  
          California; and requires a geologist or geophysicist to use a  
          written contract when providing geological or geophysical  
          services.

           ANALYSIS  :    

          Existing law:

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

          2. Regulates, under the Professional Engineers 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. 

          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.  

          4. Provides for a temporary authorization to practice  
             engineering for a specific project upon application, payment  
             of a specified fee for a period of not more than 180 days, if  
             the applicant meets certain requirements.  

          5. Authorizes the Board to investigate and discipline a license  
             or temporary authorization to practice professional  
             engineering.  Authorizes the Board to establish fees, as  
             specified, including a fee for temporary authorization of not  
             more than 25% of the application fee.  

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

          7. 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. 

          8. Authorizes the Board to investigate and discipline a license  
             or temporary authorization to practice geology or geophysics.  
              Authorizes the Board to establish fees, as specified,  
             including a fee for temporary authorization of not more than  

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             $80.  

          9. 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. 

          10.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. 

          This bill:

          1. Repeals the provision for a temporary authorization to  
             practice engineering, geology or geophysics in California and  
             makes conforming changes.

          2. 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.

           Background
           
           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  
          DCA, 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 brings the practice of geology and geophysics in line with  
          the other licensed design and construction professions in  
          California.

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           Temporary authorizations  .  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 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, seven 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 Business and Professions Code Section  
          8753, which related to temporary authorization to practice as a  
          professional land surveyor, was repealed in 2005.

           Comments
           
          According to the author's office, 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  

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          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.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  Yes

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  4/12/13)

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

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The bill's sponsor, the Board for  
          Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, 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."

          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."

          The American Society of Civil Engineers, Region 9 believes 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  

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          granted temporary authority to practice better serves that  
          purpose.


          MW:k  4/15/13   Senate Floor Analyses 

                           SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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