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News: Legislative Updates

SEAOC supports bills for school inspections, refresher on licensing rules

Tuesday, April 19, 2016  

By Don Schinske, SEAOC Executive Director

At the recommendation of the SEAOC Legislative Committee, and with the approval of the four Member Organization boards, SEAOC is supporting legislation this year to require engineers to take an online tutorial on licensing board rules at the time of licensure renewal. 

SB 1085 (Roth), which is sponsored by BPELSG, is intended as a means to notify licensees on changes to the law and serve as a refresher on the rules that govern practice in California. Participants would not need to "pass" the exam - correct answers would be furnished as you go.  

Senators serving on the Senate Business and Professions Committee, where SB 1085 was heard on April 18, noted that the proposed test does indeed seem relatively modest, given that engineering remains one of the very few licensed professions in California with no continuing education requirement. 

Support for SB 1085 within SEAOC Board and the MO Boards was not unanimous, with questions raised about the value and frequency of the test and the added the hassle.  In making its recommendation, the SEAOC Legislative Committee described the proposal as a "small but meaningful" elevation in licensing standards that might help some members better understand their rights and obligations and potentially avoid complaints. 

Here's a link to an FAQ issued by BPELSG.

SEAOC is also engaged on several other bills now in play in the Capitol:

AB 1783 (Dodd) - SEAOC is supporting this bill to require annual inspections of K-12 school premises for the safety of non-structural building "contents."  This bill, which was introduced in response to the 2014 Napa earthquake, is meant to ensure that more schools follow the DSA’s Guide and Checklist for Nonstructural Earthquake Hazards in California Schools.  SEAOC's Legislative Committee has been helping the author on technical aspects of the bill, including clarifying the difference for "contents" and equipment and defining areas of higher seismicity.  In addition, we are using our committee testimony to remind legislators of the broader concern over the seismic vulnerability of schools identified under AB 300 (Corbett, 1999).  

Watch this video of the Assembly Education Committee on April 7, 2016 discussing this bill, during which Immediate Past President Ryan Kersting presents on behalf of SEAOC:

AB 2392 (Nazarian) is a re-introduction of legislation that the Governor vetoed last year that would provide $60 million in tax credits for seismic retrofits.  As drafted, tax credits would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis with local jurisdictions setting their own eligibility criteria.  SEAOC is in a Support if Amended position on the bill, and has met several times with the author's staff to encourage amendments that require jurisdictions to prioritize projects based on their public benefit or importance to community resiliency.

Fortunately, Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) has identified seismic safety as an area in which he wants to legislate during his tenure in Sacramento, and SEAOC looks forward to an ongoing and productive relationship in the years ahead. 

SB 885 (Wolk), an ACEC-sponsored bill that would prohibit duty-to-defend clauses in design professional contracts, is scheduled for its first hearing May 3 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  SEAOC strongly supports the bill, and some of our members in conjunction with colleagues from ACEC, AIA-CC, and CalGEO, have met with the relevant Senators or their staffs in their districts.  In addition, individual SEAOC members have submitted more than 50 support letters to the SEAOC office for deployment around the Capitol. 

Although SB 885 enjoys the support from across the full spectrum of the design professions, it faces formidable opposition from cities, counties and special districts.  In addition to working the bill in Sacramento, SEAOC will appeal for additional member contact with specific Senators before the May 3 hearing. Thank you for your help.