BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 177


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          CONCURRENCE IN SENATE AMENDMENTS


          AB  
          177 (Bonilla)


          As Amended September 4, 2015


          Majority vote


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          Original Committee Reference:  B. & P.


          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, and make other  
          sunset review-related changes.  


          The Senate amendments:


          1)Repeal the provisions authorizing the BPELSG to discipline a  
            licensee for failure to respond to a written request or  
            information from the BPELSG resulting from the investigation  
            of a complaint on January 1, 2020. 


          2)Delay merging the Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors  
            Fund and the Geology and Geophysics Account until July 1,  








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            2016. 


          3)Authorize the CAB to allow students enrolled in an Additional  
            Path to Architectural Licensing program to take the national  
            examination early.


          4)Add double joining language to address chaptering out issues  
            with AB 179 (Bonilla) and AB 180 (Bonilla) of the current  
            legislative session.


          5)Make other technical and clarifying amendments. 


          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee: 


          1)No significant costs are anticipated due to the extension of  
            the sunset of the BPELSG. Current law imposes a sunset on the  
            existence of the BPELSG as an appointed board. However, there  
            is no sunset on the larger body of law requiring licensure and  
            oversight of the practice of engineering, land surveying, and  
            geology. If the BPESLG was allowed to sunset, the overall  
            licensing and regulatory program would still exist in law.


          2)Potential one-time costs up to $150,000 for the BPELSG to  
            develop educational standards for geologists, geophysicists,  
            and geologists-in-training.


          3)No significant costs are anticipated due to the extension of  
            the sunset of the CAB. Current law imposes a sunset on the  
            existence of the CAB as an appointed board. However, there is  
            no sunset on the larger body of law requiring licensure and  
            oversight of the practice of architecture.  If the CAB was  
            allowed to sunset, the overall licensing and regulatory  
            program would still exist in law.









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          4)No significant costs are anticipated due to the extension of  
            the sunset of the LATC. Current law imposes a sunset on the  
            existence of the LATC as an appointed board. However, there is  
            no sunset on the larger body of law requiring licensure and  
            oversight of the practice of landscape architecture.  If the  
            LATC was allowed to sunset, the overall licensing and  
            regulatory program would still exist in law.


          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  
          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  








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          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.


          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  








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          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  
          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  








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          both parties can terminate the contract.


          CAB: Additional Path to Architectural Licensing Programs.   
          Candidates for licensure may take the required examination after  
          completing five years of education/experience.   A new degree  
          type is being developed that will integrate the national Intern  
          Development Program into the degree programs, as well as course  
          content that correlates with divisions of the national  
          examination (Architect Registration Examination).  Three  
          California universities are developing Additional Path to  
          Architectural Licensing programs and such programs have been  
          vetted by the National Council of Architectural Registration  
          Boards (of which CAB is a member).  Before the three California  
          schools finalize their programs and allocate significant  
          resources, they require some level of assurance the CAB will  
          accept their students for early testing prior to the five year  
          point.  This bill will provide the CAB authority to permit  
          earlier testing, which would require subsequent action by the  
          CAB.


          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Eunie Linden / B. & P. / (916) 319-3301  FN:  
          0002359