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News: Legislative Updates

SEAOC stumps for Significant Structures

Tuesday, March 24, 2015  

By Don Schinske, SEAOC Executive Director

SEAOC’s legislative efforts got off to a quick start this year. Front and center has been our proposed “Significant Structures amendment” to the state Business and Professions code, under which the design of Critical Facilities (Risk Category III and IV) as well as high-rises would be reserved for licensed structural engineers. 

SEAOC Legislative Chair Carl Josephson, SE, Board President Ryan Kersting, SE, and ED Don Schinske have met with numerous parties in Sacramento in recent weeks, including BPELSG, state Senate and Assembly consultants, colleague organizations including ACEC, PECG, ASCE, AIACC and others, including conversations with state agencies. 

On March 18, Kersting and Schinske testified at a joint hearing of the Assembly and Senate Business and Professions committees, which are in the process of reauthorizing the BPELSG for another four years.  Our original hope had been for our proposal in included in this year’s “sunset review” bill for BPELSG and the other licensing boards.  However, committee consultants recommended to legislators that SEAOC keep working on the proposal with other stakeholders, which we assured the committee we would do in our testimony Wednesday. 

At the close of the hearing, Sen. Jerry Hill (D-Santa Cruz), the committee co-chair, instructed BPELSG board and staff to help resolve the issue by “the end of the year” or report back on why they hadn’t.   We at SEAOC look forward to that process. 

Unfortunately, some of key groups we need to be comfortable with our proposal – including PECG and ACEC – just aren’t there yet, although ACEC has expressed willingness to work toward an acceptable proposal.  Also, SEAOC needs to work with individual members of the licensing board who have concerns about some of the specific structures on our list.   In short, we have a ways to go before we have a truly movable proposal.  But we are getting there. 

In the meantime, the 2015-2016 Legislative Session is fully underway.  SEAOC’s Legislative Committee is reviewing the legislation introduced so far, and will be recommending positions for review by the SEAOC Board.  A few interesting early bills  include:

AB 320 (Wood) – PECG-sponsored bill would create title of “environmental engineer.”

AB 428 (Nazarian) is a proposal to offer a 30-percent state tax credits for seismic retrofit of older concrete, soft-story and other vulnerable structures.  SEAOC’s Legislative Committee is developing amendments to submit to the author.

SB 602 (Monning) would allow the California Earthquake Authority to issue bonds to pay for seismic improvement projects. 

Click on the bill number for the text.