BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       AB 177


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          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING


          AB  
          177 (Bonilla)


          As Amended  April 23, 2015


          Majority vote


           ------------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Committee       |Votes |Ayes                  |Noes                |
          |                |      |                      |                    |
          |                |      |                      |                    |
          |----------------+------+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Business &      |14-0  |Bonilla, Jones,       |                    |
          |Professions     |      |Baker, Bloom, Burke,  |                    |
          |                |      |Chang, Dodd, Eggman,  |                    |
          |                |      |Gatto, Holden,        |                    |
          |                |      |Mullin, Ting, Wilk,   |                    |
          |                |      |Wood                  |                    |
          |                |      |                      |                    |
          |----------------+------+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Appropriations  |17-0  |Gomez, Bigelow,       |                    |
          |                |      |Bonta, Calderon,      |                    |
          |                |      |Chang, Daly, Eggman,  |                    |
          |                |      |Gallagher,            |                    |
          |                |      |                      |                    |
          |                |      |                      |                    |
          |                |      |Eduardo Garcia,       |                    |
          |                |      |Gordon, Holden,       |                    |
          |                |      |Jones, Quirk, Rendon, |                    |
          |                |      |Wagner, Weber, Wood   |                    |
          |                |      |                      |                    |
          |                |      |                      |                    |
           ------------------------------------------------------------------- 








                                                                       AB 177


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          SUMMARY:  Extends the sunset date for the Board for Professional  
          Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists (BPELSG), the California  
          Architects Board (CAB), and the Landscape Architects Technical  
          Committee (LATC) until January 1, 2020.  Specifically, this bill:   
           


          1)Extends the sunset date for the BPELSG, CAB, and the LATC from  
            January 1, 2016, to January 1, 2020.


          2)Creates the Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and  
            Geologists Fund by merging the Geology and Geophysics Account  
            with the Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Fund.


          3)Gives the BPELSG the authority to discipline a licensee for  
            failure to respond to a written request or information from the  
            BPELSG stemming from a complaint investigation.


          4)Clarifies that the written contract requirement for a licensee  
            must contain a provision for both parties' ability to terminate  
            and the procedure for termination of a contract.


          5)Authorizes the BPELSG to develop the education standards for  
            licensure as a geologist, geophysicist, or a  
            geologist-in-training.


          6)Makes other conforming and non-substantive changes.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee: 









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          1)On-going annual Special Fund costs of approximately $9.6 million  
            (Professional Engineer's and Land Surveyor's Fund) and $1.4  
            million (Geology and Geophysics Account) to extend the BPELSG  
            beyond the January 1, 2016, sunset date. This fund is  
            self-supporting with fee revenue.
          2)On-going annual Special Fund costs of approximately $3.9 million  
            (California Architects Board Fund) to extend the CAB beyond the  
            January 1, 2016, sunset date. This fund is self-supporting with  
            fee revenue.


          3)On-going annual Special Fund costs of approximately $1.0 million  
            (Landscape Architects Fund) to extend the LACT beyond the  
            January 1, 2016, sunset date. This fund is self-supporting with  
            fee revenue. 


          COMMENTS:


          Purpose.  This bill is author sponsored.  According to the author,  
          "This bill is necessary to ensure that consumers continue to be  
          protected through the ongoing licensure and regulation of  
          architects, landscape architects, engineers, land surveyors, and  
          geologists." 


          Sunset Review.  On March 18th, 2015, the Assembly Business and  
          Professions Committee and the Senate Business, Professions, and  
          Economic Development Committee held a "sunset review" hearing for  
          the BPELSG, the CAB, and the LATC.  As part of the Sunset Review,  
          the BPELSG, the CAB, and the LATC each prepared a sunset report,  
          which was submitted to the committees and committee staff prepared  
          a background paper on each board.    


          A "sunset review" is a performance review of a state agency by the  
          Legislature aimed at determining whether that agency should  








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          continue to exist, and if so, whether any statutory reforms are  
          needed to increase the agency's effectiveness.  Sunset review is  
          triggered by the statutory expiration date for the agency, which  
          is commonly called a "sunset."  Without an extension of this  
          sunset date, the boards will cease to exist. 


          In response to the recommendations in the background paper and the  
          sunset hearing, this bill extends the sunset date for the BPELSG,  
          the CAB, and the LATC from January 1, 2016, to January 1, 2020.   
          This bill also incorporates proposed changes to the function of  
          the BPELSG that arose out of the sunset review process including  
          the merging of the Geology and Geophysics Account with the  
          Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Fund; giving the BPELSG  
          the authority to discipline a licensee for failure to respond to a  
          request for information relating to a complaint investigation; and  
          providing clarification of the licensure requirements for  
          geologist.


          BPELSG: Merging the Funds.  During the 4th Extraordinary Session  
          of 2009, the Legislature merged the Board for Professional  
          Engineers and Land Surveyors and the Board for Geologists and  
          Geophysicists, AB 20 X4 (Strickland), Chapter 18, Statutes of  
          2009-10 Fourth Extraordinary Session.  At the time of the  
          subsequent sunset review in 2012, the recommendation was to keep  
          the funds of each board separate until the functions of the new  
          board integrated.  Initially, the licensing, enforcement, and  
          administrative units of the BPELSG had separate personnel for  
          geologists and geophysicists and for engineers and land surveyors.  
           Presently, the activities and staff of these units are combined  
          so each unit has authority to regulate all of the professions  
          under the BPELSG.  Despite the merger of these duties, funds are  
          maintained separately as the Geology and Geophysics Account within  
          the Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Fund.  This bill  
          would combine the accounts to enable the BPELSG to fully integrate  
          its operations and costs.










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          BPELSG: Enforcement Delays.  One major issue raised in the sunset  
          review hearing relating to the expeditious processing of a  
          complaint is the lack of authority to require its licensees to  
          respond to the BPELSG or to provide documents in response to a  
          request during the course of a complaint investigation.  One of  
          the reasons for delays in the processing of investigations has  
          been that staff gives the subject of the investigation ample time  
          and opportunities to respond and provide documents during the  
          investigation.  However, licensees often think that if they do not  
          respond, the complaint will simply be closed.  While some cases  
          are closed due to lack of substantive information in the  
          complaint, this is unusual.  In most cases, the BPELSG must either  
          proceed based on the information on file or must expend additional  
          time and resources such as referring the case to Division of  
          Investigation with the Department of Consumer Affairs to obtain  
          the information.  Often, if the BPELSG had received this  
          information in a timely fashion, the complaint could have been  
          resolved without any further action being pursued against the  
          licensee.  Presently, the Contractors State License Board and the  
          Medical Board of California have authority to pursue disciplinary  
          action against a licensee who fails to respond to a request from  
          an investigator in the course of an enforcement action.  This bill  
          gives the BPELSG the authority to initiate disciplinary action for  
          a licensee that fails to respond to a written request by an  
          investigator in the process of a complaint investigation. 


          BPELSG: Education Requirements for Geologists and Geophysicists.   
          The BPELSG identified a concern relating to the licensure  
          requirements for geologists.  Under the Geology and Geophysics  
          Act, a bachelor's degree in geology is required; however, the  
          necessary coursework to qualify for licensure within a geology  
          major it unclear.  This education requirement has created some  
          confusion in applicants looking for licensure.  This results in an  
          applicant being denied a license because upon review of the  
          coursework, the applicant may not have insufficient education in  
          the field.  The BPELSG is examining how to better capture new  
          graduates by clarifying this section of the Geology and  
          Geophysicists Act.  This bill authorizes the BPELSG to formulate  








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          the requirements for licensure through regulation. 


          BPELSG: Written Contract Requirement.  Presently, all of the  
          regulated professions require a written contract to be executed  
          prior to performing professional services.  The language in the  
          Business and Professions Code provides a loophole that, according  
          to the BPELSG, has been used by licensees at the potential  
          detriment of consumers.  Currently, the Business and Professions  
          Code sections require that a contract include description of the  
          procedure to be used by any party to terminate the contract rather  
          than giving both parties the ability to terminate the contract.   
          This provision has resulted in some licensees including only a  
          provision giving the licensee the ability to terminate.  This bill  
          would clarify that the licensee must include language in a written  
          contract about how both parties can terminate the contract.




          Analysis Prepared by:                                               
                          Eunie Linden / B. & P. / (916) 319-3301  FN:  
          0000678