BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON
          BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
                              Senator Jerry Hill, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:            AB 177          Hearing Date:    July 6,  
          2015
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          |Author:   |Bonilla                                               |
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          |Version:  |June 30, 2015                                         |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant|Mark Mendoza                                          |
          |:         |                                                      |
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              Subject:  Professions and vocations:  licensing boards:   
                               authority:  extension.


          SUMMARY:  Extends the sunset date for the Board for Professional  
          Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, the California  
          Architects Board, and the Landscape Architects Technical  
          Committee until January 1, 2020.  

          Existing law:
          
          1)Establishes the California Architects Board (CAB) within the  
             Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), which licenses and  
             regulates professional architects under the Architects  
             Practice Act.  (BPC  5500 et seq.)
          2)Establishes the Landscape Architects Technical Committee  
             (LATC), under the CAB, which licenses and regulates landscape  
             architects.  (BPC  5615 et seq.)


          3)Establishes the Professional Engineers Act, administered by  
             the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and  
             Geologists (BPELSG), within the DCA, which licenses and  
             regulates professional engineers.  (BPC  6700 et seq.)


          4)Creates the BPELSG within the DCA and extends the operation of  
             the BPELSG until January 1, 2016.  (Business and Professions  
             Code (BPC)  6710)







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          5)Defines the Professional Engineer's and Land Surveyor's Fund  
             as a single special fund.  (BPC  6797; 8800)


          6)Establishes the Geologist and Geophysicists Act, administered  
             by the BPELSG, within the DCA, which licenses and regulates  
             professional geologists and geophysicists.  (BPC  7800 et  
             seq.)


          7)Defines the Geology and Geophysicists Account within the  
             Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Fund.  (BPC   
             7885-7886)


          8)Establishes the Land Surveyor's Act, administered by the  
             BPELSG, within the DCA, which licenses and regulates the  
             practice of land surveying.  (BPC  8700 et seq.)


          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, as  
             specified.


          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 complaint investigation.


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










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


          6)Adds a sunset date to the specific section regarding failure  
             to respond.


          7)Makes other technical and clarifying changes.


          
          FISCAL  
          EFFECT:  This bill is keyed "fiscal" by Legislative Counsel.   
          According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee dated May 13,  
          2015, this bill will result in:

          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 LATC beyond  
            the January 1, 2016, sunset date. This fund is self-supporting  
            with fee revenue.


          
          COMMENTS:
          
          1. Purpose.  The  Author  is the Sponsor  of this bill.  According  
             to the Author, "This bill is necessary to ensure that  








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             consumers continue to be protected through the ongoing  
             licensure and regulation of architects, landscape architects,  
             engineers, land surveyors, and geologists." 

          2. Oversight Hearings and Sunset Review of Licensing Boards and  
             Programs.  In 2015, the Senate Business, Professions and  
             Economic Development Committee and the Assembly Business and  
             Professions Committee (Committees) conducted joint oversight  
             hearings to review 12 regulatory entities: California  
             Accountancy Board; California Architects Board and Landscape  
             Architects Committee; California State Athletic Commission;  
             Board of Barbering and Cosmetology; Cemetery and Funeral  
             Bureau; Contractors State License Board; Dental Board of  
             California; Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors  
             and Geologists; Board of Registered Nursing; Bureau of  
             Security and Investigative Services; and Board of Vocational  
             Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians.

             The Committees began their review of the aforementioned  
             licensing agencies in March and conducted two days of  
             hearings.  This bill and the accompanying sunset bills are  
             intended to implement legislative changes as recommended by  
             staff of the Committees and which are reflected in the  
             Background Papers prepared by Committee staff for each agency  
             and program reviewed by the Committees for this year.

             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 requires  
             for information relating to a complaint investigation; and  
             providing clarification of the licensure requirements for  
             geologist.

          3.Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and  
             Geologists.  The BPELSG is charged with safeguarding the  
             life, health, property, and public welfare by regulating the  
             practices of professional engineering, land surveying,  
             geology, and geophysics.  The BPELSG provides this public  








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             service by qualifying and licensing individuals, establishing  
             regulations, enforcing laws and regulations, and providing  
             information so that consumers can make informed decisions. 

             The complexity of engineering, land surveying, geology, and  
             geophysics projects necessitates a very high degree of  
             technical knowledge and skill which is typically only  
             acquired after many years of experience.  The vast majority  
             of licensed engineers hold a college degree in engineering.   
             Land surveyors make decisions and form opinions based upon  
             interpretation of legal documents, field evidence, and the  
             use of technically advanced instrumentation.  Licensed  
             geologists and geophysicists often obtain post-secondary  
             degrees in earth sciences and devote many years of experience  
             studying and interpreting historical data related to soils,  
             earth dynamics, groundwater, and the effect those have on  
             public improvements.

          4. 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, ABX4-20 (Strickland, Chapter 18, Statutes of  
             2009).  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.  By fiscal year 2015-16, the reserve in the  
             Geology and Geophysics account is predicted to reach a level  
             that would require a fee increase. The Professional Engineers  
             and Land Surveyors Fund is predicted to remain solvent.  This  
             division of funds is the last remnant of the merger. This  
             bill would combine the accounts to enable the BPELSG to fully  
             integrate its operations and costs.

          5. Enforcement Delays.  One major issue raised in the sunset  
             review hearing that interferes with the expeditious  
             processing of a complaint is the lack of authority to require  








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             its licensees to respond to the Board or to provide documents  
             related to a project which the Enforcement Unit may 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, what typically transpires  
             is that the licensed subjects 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 the Division of Investigation within the DCA 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 California Medical Board have the  
             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. 

          6. Education Requirements for Geologists and Geophysicists.   
             During the sunset review process, 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.  Presently, the narrow definition  
             of the education requirement of having graduated with a  
             degree in geology 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 has 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 the  
             requirements for licensure through regulation. 

          7. Written Contract Requirement.  Presently, most of the  








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             regulated trade professions have the requirement that a  
             written contract be executed prior to performing professional  
             services.  The language in the BPC provides a loophole that  
             according to the BPELSG has been used by licensees at the  
             potential detriment of consumers.  Currently, the BPC  
             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.

          8. CAB and LATC.  The CAB was created in 1901 by the Legislature  
             to fulfill the mission of protecting the health, safety, and  
             welfare of the public through the regulation of the practice  
             of architecture.  The CAB establishes regulations for the  
             examination and licensing of the architecture profession in  
             California, which today numbers approximately 21,000 licensed  
             architects and approximately 11,000 candidates who are in the  
             process of meeting examination and licensure requirements.   
             The mission of the CAB is to protect the public health,  
             safety, and welfare through the regulation of the practice of  
             architecture and landscape architecture in California.  

             California began regulating the practice of landscape  
             architecture in 1953.  The LATC, under the purview of the  
             CAB, was created by the Legislature to protect the health,  
             safety, and welfare of the public by establishing license  
             standards and enforcing the laws and regulations that govern  
             the practice of landscape architecture in California.  The  
             LATC is responsible for the examination, licensure, and  
             enforcement programs concerning landscape architects.  The  
             LATC currently licenses more than 3,500 of the over 16,400  
             licensed landscape architects in the United States.  The  
             mission of the LATC is to regulate the practice of landscape  
             architecture in a manner which protects the public health,  
             safety, and welfare and safeguards the environment, as  
             specified.  

             In fulfilling their missions, the CAB and the LATC have found  
             that acting preventively and proactively is the best use of  
             its resources.  Because of the nature of the design  








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             profession, there are numerous opportunities to prevent minor  
             problems from becoming disasters.  As such, the CAB and the  
             LATC works to aggressively address issues well before they  
             exacerbate into catastrophes.  In the CAB's Enforcement  
             Program, for example, this means cooperatively working with  
             building departments through the CAB's first-of-its-kind  
             Building Official Contact Program.  The CAB and the LATC work  
             closely with professional groups to ensure that licensees  
             understand changes in laws, codes, and standards, and monitor  
             changes in industry and the environment to ensure licensure  
             and regulation reflect current needs.  The CAB and the LATC  
             also invest in communicating with consumers, schools,  
             licensed professionals, and related professions and  
             organizations.   To ensure the effectiveness of these  
             endeavors, the CAB and the LATC works to upgrade and enhance  
             its communications by constantly seeking feedback and  
             analyzing the results of its communications efforts.  

          9. Review of the CAB and LATC Issues.  While the Committees  
             raised a number of issues relating to the CAB and the LATC,  
             none required any statutory changes.  As a result, the only  
             change necessary was the extension of the CAB and the LATC  
             until January 1, 2020.  

          10.Related Legislation This Year.   SB 465  (Hill) extends the  
             operation of the Contractors' State License Board until 2020  
             and makes various changes to the Contractors' State License  
             Law.  (  Status:   The bill is pending in the Assembly Committee  
             on Business and Professions.) 

              SB 466  (Hill) sunsets the Board of Registered Nursing.   
             (  Status:   The bill is pending in the Assembly Committee on  
             Business and Professions.) 

              SB 467  (Hill) extends the operation of the California Board  
             of Accountancy until 2020 and makes various changes in  
             regards to the DCA.  (  Status:   The bill is pending in the  
             Assembly Committee on Business and Professions.) 

              SB 468  (Hill) extends the operation of the Bureau of Security  
             and Investigative Services and the Alarm Company Act,  
             Locksmith Act, Private Investigator Act, Private Security  
             Services Act, Proprietary Security Services Act, and  
             Collateral Recovery Act until January 1, 2020.  It also  








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             subjects the Bureau to review by the appropriate committees  
             of the Legislature and makes various changes to provisions in  
             the aforementioned Acts to improve the oversight, enforcement  
             and regulation by the Bureau of licensees under each Act.   
             (  Status:   The bill is pending in the Assembly Committee on  
             Business and Professions.)  

              SB 469  (Hill) extends the operation of the California State  
             Athletic Commission until January 1, 2020.  Makes changes to  
             the laws governing the Commission's operations and the  
             Commission's oversight of professional and amateur boxing,  
             professional and amateur kickboxing, all forms and  
             combinations of full contact martial arts contests, including  
             mixed martial arts and matches or exhibitions conducted, held  
             or given in California.  (  Status:   The bill is pending in the  
             Assembly Committee on Business and Professions.)     

              AB 178  (Bonilla) extends the operation of the Board of  
             Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians until January  
             1, 2020.  (  Status:   The bill is pending in the Senate  
             Appropriations Committee.)     

              AB 179  (Bonilla) extends the operation of the Dental Board of  
             California until January 1, 2020.  (  Status:   The bill is also  
             set for a hearing before this Committee on July 6.)     

              AB 180  (Bonilla) extends the operation of the Cemetery and  
             Funeral Bureau until January 1, 2020.  (  Status:   The bill is  
             also set for a hearing before this Committee on July 6.)

              AB 181  (Bonilla) extends the operation of the California  
             State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC) until January  
             1, 2020.  Makes changes to the laws governing the Board's  
             regulation of barbers, cosmetologists, estheticians,  
             electrologists, manicurists, apprentices and establishments.  
             (  Status:   The bill is also set for a hearing before this  
             Committee on July 6.)

              AB 320  (Wood) adds the title "environmental engineer" to the  
             list of professional engineers currently given Title Act  
             protection and prevents a person from using that title unless  
             licensed by the Board for Professional Engineers, Land  
             Surveyors, and Geologists.  This bill also exempts licensed  
             civil, electrical, and mechanical engineers from additional  








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             qualifications to use the title, "environmental engineer."   
             (  Status:   The bill is also set for a hearing before this  
             Committee on July 6.)    

          11.Arguments in Support.  The  Board of Professional Engineers,  
             Land Surveyors, and Geologists  writes, "AB 177 would merge  
             the Geology and Geophysics Account of the Professional  
             Engineer's and Land Surveyor's  Fund into the fund, which  
             would be renamed the Professional Engineer's, Land Surveyor's  
             and Geologist's Fund.  Additionally, AB 177 would add a much  
             needed cause for disciplinary action by the Board if a  
             licensee or certificate holder fails or refuses to respond to  
             a written request from a representative of the board to  
             cooperate in the investigation of a complaint against that  
             licensee or certificate holder."

             The  Professional Engineers in California Government   
             underscores that "continued licensure of these professional  
             are necessary to ensure ongoing public protection."

             The  California Council of the American Society of Landscape  
             Architects  highlights that "the LATC has a strong record in  
             providing an appropriate balance between protecting the  
             interest of consumers and regulating the practice of  
             landscape architects through their licensing and regulatory  
             programs."

          12.Arguments in Opposition.   D. Wolley & Associates, Inc.  writes  
             in opposition, underscoring that "Section 8780.2 is  
             overreaching and violates licensees' constitutional rights  
             and protections."

          13.Technical Amendments.  On page 8, line 29 of the bill, the  
             bill should read, "This section shall become operative on  
             July 1,  2017  2016."  The Author has agreed to take this  
             technical amendment on the Senate Floor. 
          

          SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION:
          
           Support:  

          Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists
          California Council of the American Society of Landscape  








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          Architects
          California Land Surveyors Association
                                                                                         Professional Engineers in California Government

           Opposition:  

          D. Wolley & Associates, Inc. 

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