BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 152
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          Date of Hearing:   June 11, 2013

              ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS AND CONSUMER  
                                     PROTECTION
                              Richard S. Gordon, Chair
                      SB 152 (Roth) - As Amended:  April 8, 2013

           SENATE VOTE  :   35-1
           
          SUBJECT  :   Licensed professionals: engineers: geologists:  
          geophysicists.

           SUMMARY  :   Deletes the current provisions allowing a temporary  
          authorization to practice engineering, geology, and geophysics,  
          and requires the use of a written contract when contracting to  
          provide geological or geophysical services as specified.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :   

          1)Repeals the authority of the Board for Professional Engineers,  
            Land Surveyors and Geologists (Board) to issue a temporary  
            authorization to practice engineering, as specified.

          2)Repeals the authority of the Board to issue a temporary  
            authorization to practice geology and geophysics, as  
            specified.

          3)Requires a geologist or geophysicist to use a written contract  
            when contracting for geological or geophysical services, and  
            requires the contract to be executed prior to the work  
            commencing unless the client states otherwise in writing. 

          4)Requires the written contract for geographical or geophysical  
            services to include the following:

             a)   A description of the services to be provided to the  
               client by the geologist or geophysicist;

             b)   A description of any basis of compensation applicable to  
               the contract and the method of payment agreed upon by the  
               parties;

             c)   The name, address and license or certificate number of  
               the geologist or geophysicist and the name and address of  
               the client; 









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             d)   A description of the procedure the geologist,  
               geophysicist and the client will use to accommodate  
               additional services; and, 

             e)   A description of the procedure to be used by any party  
               to terminate the contract.

          5)Provides an exemption to the written contract requirement for  
            any of the following circumstances:

             a)   Geologic or geophysical services rendered by a geologist  
               or geophysicist for which the client will not pay  
               compensation;

             b)   A geologist or geophysicist who has a current or prior  
               contractual relationship with the client to provide  
               geologic or geophysical services and who has already been  
               paid the fees that are due under the contract by the  
               client;

             c)   If the client executes a waiver in writing after full  
               disclosure as specified, that a contract is not required;  
               or,

             d)   Geological or geophysical services rendered by a  
               geologist or geophysicist to any of the following:

               i)     A licensed geologist or geophysicist;

               ii)    A licensed engineer;

               iii)   A licensed land surveyor;

               iv)    A licensed architect;

               v)     A licensed contractor; or,

               vi)    A public agency.

          6)Specifies that a "written contract" includes a contract in  
            electronic form.

          7)Makes other technical and clarifying changes.

          8)States that no reimbursement is required by this bill pursuant  








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            to Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution  
            because the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency  
            or a school district will be incurred because this bill  
            creates a new crime or infraction, eliminates a crime or  
            infraction, or changes the penalty for a crime or infraction  
            within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code, or  
            changes the definition of a crime within the meaning of  
            Section 6 of Article XIIIB of the California Constitution. 

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Licenses and regulates professional engineers, land surveyors,  
            geologists and geophysicists by the Board within the  
            Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA).  Business and  
            Professions Code (BPC) Section 6700, et al)

          2)Requires a professional engineer to use a written contract  
            containing specified elements when contracting to provide  
            professional engineering services to a client as specified and  
            provides for specific exemptions to the contract requirements.  
             (BPC 6749)

          3)Permits the Board to issue a temporary authorization to  
            practice engineering for a specific project, and requires an  
            applicant for the temporary authorization to meet the  
            following requirements:

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

             b)   Is legally qualified to practice the 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 his or her knowledge to practice in a specified  
               branch of engineering.

             d)   Takes and passes the examination on state laws and  
               regulations; and,

             e)   Notifies the Board in writing of his or her intention to  
               practice including the specific details about the project  
               and the duration of the project which is not to exceed 180  
               days from the commencement of the project. (BPC 6760)









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          4)Establishes the Geologist and Geophysicist Act and regulates  
            those professions under the Board. (BPC 7800 et. al)

          5)Permits the Board to issue a temporary authorization for the  
            practice of geology or geophysics or a certified specialty of  
            geology or geophysics and requires an applicant for the  
            temporary authorization to meet the following requirements:

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

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

             c)   Appears before the Board or a committee appointed by the  
               Board, and demonstrates satisfactory evidence of his or her  
               knowledge to practice in a specified branch of geology;  
               and,

             d)   If the applicant demonstrates that the completion of the  
               project for which the authorization is granted will require  
               more than 60 consecutive calendar days, the Board may  
               extend the authorization not to exceed a total of 120 days.  
                (BPC 7848, 7848.1)

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   

           1)Purpose of this bill  .  This bill would repeal the Board's  
            current authority to issue a temporary authorization to  
            out-of-state licensees to practice geology, geophysics or  
            engineering in the state of California in order to ensure that  
            those professionals have sufficient knowledge of California's  
            unique seismic issues.  In addition, this bill requires  
            geologists and geophysicists to execute a written contract,  
            similar to that currently required of engineers, prior to  
            performing work in order to better protect consumers from  
            unfair contracting or billing practices.  This bill is  
            sponsored by the Board.

           2)Author's statement  .  According to the author, "Temporary  
            authorizations [for the practice of engineering, geology or  
            geophysics] can pose a risk to the health and safety of the  
            consumers of California because individuals [who] are not  








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            licensed in California may not be familiar with the terrain,  
            soils or seismic [issues] that are specific to California.   
            Currently, there is no statutory requirement that professional  
            geologists or geophysicists execute written contracts with  
            their clients [as do] professional engineers and land  
            surveyors [which] the board believes that the written  
            contracts are beneficial to both the consumer and the  
            licensee."

           3)Temporary authorization  .  The Board does not currently issue  
            temporary licenses, but it does allow certain out-of-state  
            licensees to obtain a temporary authorization to practice in  
            California.  The temporary authorization allows an engineer,  
            geologist, or geophysicists to work in California for a  
            specified amount of time, up to 180 days for an engineer and  
            up to 60 consecutive days for a geologist or geophysicist,  
            with the possibility of a 60 day extension.  

          An applicant for a temporary authorization must submit an  
            application and supporting document, and is required to appear  
            before the Board to demonstrate their competency and  
            understanding of their specialty branch of engineering or  
            geology and geophysics.  The Board members may question  
            applicants about the details of the specific project they will  
            be working on or their overall experience to date, but issues  
            related to California's unique seismic issues may be  
            overlooked.  

            The situations that might require a temporary authorization  
            include a case where a large, national engineering firm may  
            decide, on short notice, to use a particular out-of-state  
            licensee with specialized relevant experience.  According to  
            the Board, since 1995 there have been 40 temporary  
            authorizations granted for engineers. Of those 40 temporary  
            authorizations, 20 individuals became licensed in California  
            and 7 individuals failed the California licensing examination.  
             There has been only one instance of the Board granting a  
            temporary license to a geologist in 2012.  

            The Board also has limited disciplinary recourse against a  
            temporary authorization.  While BPC 6775 provides the Board  
            with the authority to take administrative or disciplinary  
            action (revocation or suspension) against a temporary  
            authorization, by the time the Board is notified of a problem,  
            and goes through the investigatory and disciplinary process,  








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            the temporary authorization time period would likely have  
            ended and the out-of-state practitioner would have returned to  
            his or her home state, making it both difficult and perhaps  
            pointless to pursue disciplinary action.    
             
            According to the sponsors, doing away with temporary  
            authorization in favor of requiring professionals to take and  
            pass a standardized exam necessary for licensure is a more  
            appropriate way of measuring a particular licensee's ability.   
            It will also ensure that engineering and geosciences  
            professionals practicing in this state have sufficient  
            knowledge about California's soil, terrain and seismic issues.  
             In practice, it will also give the Board greater disciplinary  
            power over the licensee.   


           4)Contracts  .  Under current law, a number of professions  
            regulated by DCA, including professional engineers, land  
            surveyors, contractors, and architects are required to use  
            written contracts when contracting to provide professional  
            services.  A written contract can help protect the consumer  
            and the professional by ensuring that both parties have a  
            clear understanding of the services that will be provided, as  
            well as clarifying the terms of the contract and helping to  
            ensure fair pricing.  



            This bill would put the geology and geophysics professions on  
            par with other DCA regulated professions, and even some of  
            those already regulated by the Board.  ABX4 20 (Audra  
            Strickland), Chapter 18, Statutes of 2009 eliminated the Board  
            for Geologists and Geophysicists and transferred all of its  
            duties, powers, purposes, responsibilities, and jurisdiction  
            to regulate the practices of geology and geophysics to the  
            Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors - but did  
            not harmonize all of the provisions for each profession.  This  
            bill would impose uniform requirements for the contracts of  
            all the professional licensees regulated by the Board. 


           5)Arguments in support  .  The Board writes in support, "[This  
            bill] addresses the problem that currently there is no  
            statutory requirement for professional geologists and  
            geophysicists to execute written contracts with their clients  








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            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.  [This bill] also addresses the problem  
            of temporary authorizations being issued to out-of-state  
            engineers, geologists and geophysicists to work on a single  
            project in California who may not be familiar with the  
            terrain, soils, and seismic activity that are specific to  
            California."

           6)Previous legislation  .  SB 543 (Steinberg and Price), Chapter  
            448, Statutes of 2011, extended the sunset dates for the Board  
            and 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,  
            eliminating the supplemental examination for structural  
            engineers, and establishing 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.

            ABX4 20 (Audra Strickland), Chapter 18, Statutes of 2009, made  
            a number of consolidations related to the 2009-2010 State  
            Budget, including merging the Board of Geologists and  
            Geophysicists into 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. 


           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :

           Support 
           
          Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists  








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          (sponsor)
          American Society of Civil Engineers Region 9
           
            Opposition 
           
          None on file.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Elissa Silva / B.,P. & C.P. / (916)  
          319-3301