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News: Legislative Updates

SEAOC Legislative Committee Update – May 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alison Trejo

By Ryan Kersting, SE
SEAOC Legislative Committee Chair

RETROFIT PROGRAMS – David Bonowitz and Ryan Kersting of SEAOC’s Legislative Committee made a presentation May 9 to the California Seismic Safety Commission on the growth in local retrofit programs and value of having those efforts being driven by local policymakers.  The presentation comes in the context of pending legislation, AB 429 (Nazarian), which would fund the Commission to compile a statewide inventory of vulnerable structures.  

 

The SEAOC Legislative Committee recommends positions to be taken by the SEAOC Board on various issues that come before the California Legislature and other government agencies and commissions: from bills promoting improved seismic safety of our building codes and our built environment to regulations affecting the legal aspects of the licensing and practice of structural engineering. The Legislative Committee relies on close collaboration with and input from the appropriate SEAOC standing technical committees as legislative recommendations and positions are considered.

Following a busy 2017-2018 California legislative cycle (and since our last full report to the SEAOC membership in late 2018), the SEAOC Legislative Committee (“Leg Comm”) has been extremely active and busy again this year for the 2018-2019 legislative cycle, meeting on an almost weekly basis to discuss over a dozen bills that are being tracked within the California Legislature.  SEAOC Leg Comm has been giving regular updates (roughly quarterly) to the SEAOC Board and at least monthly updates to the SEAOC Executive Committee.  Member of the SEAOC Board and Leg Comm have also been actively collaborating with and giving presentations to other organizations and government entities in these efforts, including NIST, FEMA, California Seismic Safety Commission (CA SSC), BPELSG, EERI, AIA, ACEC, ASCE, CALBO, CBIA, and more.

The month of May will continue to be a busy month as bills that have passed their policy committee hearings will be forwarded to the respective fiscal committees to determine which bills will be sent to the floor of each house for a vote.  Those that survive a floor vote before the end of May will be forwarded to the second house for a similar round of hearings and votes later this summer. 

SEAOC members are encouraged to look for specific Legislative Alerts sent separately via email to all members to let them know when and how to advocate to their local Assemblymember and/or State Senator for SEAOC’s positions on selected bills that will be voted on the floor of each house.

Here is a summary of some of the bills being tracked by SEAOC (as of May 16, 2019) and related positions and activities:

 

AB 393 (Nazarian) Building codes: earthquake safety: functional recovery standard.

SEAOC Position: Support / Sponsor (other supporters include EERI, AIA, ACEC, California Small Business Association and more)

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC is the sponsor of AB 393 and has been working very closely with Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, his staff, and other industry stakeholders to move the bill through the process so far. As sponsor and lead supporter, SEAOC was asked to assist in developing the fact sheet used by the author’s office to convey the key concepts of the bill to other members in the Assembly and their staff. SEAOC was also invited to give key testimony when the bill was heard by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee. SEAOC members are encouraged to respond to a specific “Legislative Alert” (via separate email) about this bill for ways to engage and encourage your local Assemblymember to vote “yes” on the bill when it reaches the Assembly Floor.

Bill Summary: This bill builds on the near success of a similar bill last year (AB 1857) and seeks to form a group to discuss evolving the performance objective of our building codes from life safety to “functional recovery,” where safety is considered alongside the need for communities to recover in relatively short order. This broader objective would take into account the time needed before reoccupying a building, the cost and time of repairs, and cost and time to regain functionality of various building types based on their use and importance to community recovery. SEAOC believes that the “functional recovery” concept at the heart of AB 393 accurately reflects the expectations that Californians already have for their new structures, even though our current building codes are written to ensure occupants’ safety and do not directly address economic recovery. The bill does not mandate an immediate change but merely initiates a process in which key stakeholders can start discussing how to meet those expectations and how to better protect Californians, our economy, and our communities. The discussions will be informed by, and will not duplicate, efforts happening at the federal level and will be able to consider how any results from the federal efforts might be adapted for California’s varying seismic hazards, existing vulnerabilities, and specific recovery needs. This bill would require the California Building Standards Commission, by June 30, 2020, to assemble a functional recovery working group comprised of certain state entities and specified members of the construction and insurance industries, including SEAOC, EERI, AIA and others. The bill would require the working group, by June 30, 2021, to consider whether a “functional recovery” standard is warranted for all or some building occupancy classifications, using specified criteria, and to investigate the practical means of implementing that standard. The bill would define “functional recovery” standard as a set of enforceable building code provisions and regulations that provide specific design and construction requirements intended to result in a building for which post-earthquake structural and nonstructural capacity are maintained or can be restored to support the basic intended functions of the building’s pre-earthquake use and occupancy within a maximum acceptable time, where the maximum acceptable time might differ for various uses or occupancies.

Bill status: Assembly Floor (passed by Assembly Housing & Community Development Committee 8-0 on April 10; passed by Assembly Appropriations Committee 18-0 on May 16)

 

 

AB 429 (Nazarian) Seismically vulnerable buildings: inventory.

SEAOC Position: Watch, but actively engaged

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC has been actively working with Assemblymember Nazarian, his staff, staff of the California Seismic Safety Commission (SSC), and EERI on this bill and similar topics. SEAOC does not have a formal position on the current version of this bill due to concerns with some of the technical language of the bill: particularly the need to collect data relating to use and recovery function rather than just structural system, and the need to support continued activities by local jurisdictions rather than having to wait for the state to collect this data in order to determine next steps. Therefore, SEAOC has provided recommended revisions to practically address these concerns and continues to advocate for those concepts to be included in the bill prior to SEAOC considering whether to support this bill or not. Members of the SEAOC Leg Comm attended the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee hearing to informationally voice SEAOC’s thoughts about this bill, have met directly with Assemblymember Nazarian to discuss these ideas, and were also recently invited to make a presentation to the SSC to discuss the evolution of local seismic mitigation programs and how this bill could be revised to strengthen those ongoing and emerging programs.

Bill summary: While AB 429 has a similar title and subject as a bill from last year (AB 2681), this year’s bill is significantly different in scope and responsibility. AB 429 would require the California Seismic Safety Commission, by specified deadlines, to identify funding and develop a bidding process for hiring a third-party contractor to create an inventory of potentially vulnerable buildings, as defined. The bill would require the third-party contractor, in conjunction with the commission, by July 1, 2022, to develop a statewide inventory of potentially seismically vulnerable buildings in 29 specified counties in California using information developed by local jurisdictions pursuant to the above-described provisions. The bill would require the commission to report to the Legislature on the findings of the inventory.

Bill status: Assembly Floor (passed by Assembly Governmental Organization Committee 20Y-0N-1NV on April 3; passed by Assembly Appropriations Committee 18-0 on May 16)

 

 

AB 234 (Nazarian) Income taxes: credit: seismic retrofits.

SEAOC Position: Watch, but actively engaged

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC has had many discussions over a number of years with Assemblymember Nazarian on this topic. SEAOC has not taken a position on the current version of this bill due to concerns with some of the technical language regarding the criteria that establishes eligibility of qualifying buildings and qualifying retrofits. In particular, SEAOC would like to ensure that retrofits mandated by local mitigation programs would be eligible for a tax credit. (The current language has been interpreted as not allowing the credit for such mandatory retrofits.) Providing tax credit eligibility for mandatory retrofits would provide more political and financial motivation for additional local jurisdictions to adopt mandatory programs. Therefore, SEAOC has provided recommended revisions to practically address these concerns, has voiced those thoughts during the Assembly Rev & Tax Committee hearing, and continues to advocate for those concepts to be included in the bill prior to SEAOC considering whether to support this bill or not.

Bill summary: AB 234 is a newer version of similar bills that Assemblymember Nazarian has introduced over the past 3-5 years. This bill, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2020, and before January 1, 2025, would allow a tax credit under the Personal Income Tax Law and the Corporation Tax Law in an amount equal to 30% of the qualified costs paid or incurred by a qualified taxpayer for any seismic retrofit construction on a qualified building. The bill would require a qualified taxpayer, in order to be eligible for the credit, to obtain 2 certifications from the appropriate jurisdiction with authority for local building code enforcement: one prior to seismic retrofit construction that certifies that the building is an at-risk property, and a second subsequent to construction that certifies that the completed construction is seismic retrofit construction, as defined, and specifies a dollar amount of qualified costs. The bill would further require the taxpayer to provide the second certification to and apply for allocation of the credit with the Franchise Tax Board, and would require the board to allocate credits on a first-come-first-served basis. The bill would provide that the credit would have an aggregate cap under both laws of $12,000,000 for each calendar year.

Bill status: Assembly Appropriations Committee (passed Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee 11-0 on April 8, held on suspense file by Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 16). This bill did not get passed to the Assembly Floor in time to be considered by the Assembly this session.  SEAOC will continue to engage on this topic.

 

 

AB 626 (Quirk-Silva) Conflicts of interest.

SEAOC Position: Support (ACEC and AIA are co-sponsors of the bill)

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC engaged with ACEC and AIA in conversations about the language of the bill, has written a letter of support, and attended the hearing to voice our support. SEAOC is reviewing recent amendments to the bill.

Bill summary: Existing law (Government Code 1090) prohibits members of the Legislature, and state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees, from being financially interested in a contract made by them in their official capacity or by any body or board of which they are members, subject to specified exceptions. Recent interpretations have applied the provision of this law to design professionals under contract by a public agency. This bill would prohibit an officer or employee from being deemed interested in a contract, as described above, if the interest is that of an engineer, geologist, architect, landscape architect, land surveyor, or planner, performing specified services on a project, including preliminary design and preconstruction services, when proposing to perform services on a subsequent portion or phase of the project.

Bill status: Assembly Floor (passed Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee 7-0 on April 10, passed with new amendments by Assembly Appropriations Committee 13Y-0N-5NV on May 15)

 

 

AB 1522 (Assembly B&P Committee) Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists.

SEAOC Position: Support

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC attended the Assembly B&P Committee hearing to voice our support of this bill.

Bill summary: This “sunset review bill” extends the operation of the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists until a new “sunset date” of January 1, 2024.

Bill status: Assembly Floor (passed Assembly Business and Professions Committee 19Y-0N-1NV on April 23, passed Assembly Appropriations Committee 18-0 on May 16)

 

 

AB 5 (Gonzalez) Worker status: employees and independent contractors.

SEAOC Position: Watch

Bill status: On Assembly Floor (passed Assembly Labor and Employment Committee 5Y-0N-2NV on April 3, passed Assembly Appropriations Committee 13Y-3N-2NV on  May 16)

 

 

SB 451 (Atkins) Personal income and corporation taxes: credits: rehabilitation of certified historic structures.

SEAOC Position: Support (with AIA)

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC has issued a letter in support of this bill.

Bill status: On Senate Floor (passed Senate Governance and Finance Committee 5Y-0N-2NV on April 3, passed Senate Appropriations Committee 6-0-0 on May 16)

 

 

SB 254 (Hertzberg) California Earthquake Authority.

SEAOC Position: Support in concept

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC attend the Senate Committee hearing to voice our conceptual support of this bill.

Bill status: HELD in Senate Appropriations Committee (passed Senate Insurance Committee 7Y-3N-3NV  on April 24, held on suspense file by Senate Appropriations Committee on May 13). This bill did not get passed to the Senate Floor in time to be considered by the Senate this session but will likely get heard next session.  SEAOC will continue to engage on this topic.

 

 

SB 522 (Hertzberg) Taxation. (aka “Sales Tax on Services”)

SEAOC Position: Watch, but engaged with ACEC in preliminary opposition.

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC will continue to critically watch this bill and actively engage with industry partners.

Bill summary: This bill is a continuation of efforts related to possibly imposing “sales taxes on services” among other revisions to the Tax Code, but did not get assigned to policy committee in time to be considered by the Senate this session.  Informational hearings will likely occur in the coming months/years. 

Bill status: Senate Rules Committee, awaiting assignment to policy committee.

 

 

SB 326 (Hill) Common interest developments.

SEAOC Position: Watch, but engaged

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC has engaged with Senator Hill’s office to understand how this bill relates to a similar bill from last year and the reasons for some of the differences in the language.

Bill status: In Assembly pending referral to policy committee (passed Senate Judiciary Committee 7-2-0on April 23, passed Senate Housing Committee 8Y-2N-1NV on April 30, PASSED Senate Floor 28Y-8N-2NV on May 9)

 

 

SB 758 (Portantino) Hospitals: seismic safety.

SEAOC Position: Watch closely

SEAOC Activities: SEAOC is reaching out to the author’s office and industry partners to see if there are potential substantive changes coming to this bill that could affect the SB 1953 program.

Bill status: On Senate Floor (passed Senate Governance and Finance Committee 5Y-0N-2NV on April 3, passed Senate Appropriations Committee 6-0-0 on May 16)

 

 

AB 1495 (O’Donnell) Hospitals: seismic safety.

SEAOC Position: Watch

Bill summary: This bill is related to possible extensions to deadlines under the SB 1953 program.

Bill status: Assembly Health Committee. This bill did not get heard by its policy committee in time to be considered by the Assembly this session.  SEAOC will continue to watch this bill.

 

 

 

If you are interested in learning more about or participating with SEAOC's Legislative Committee, please contact your local regional president, one of your regional representatives to the Leg Comm (David Hutchinson, Ken Luttrell, Devon Lombard, David Bonowitz, Kevin Moore, David Ojala, Melissa Miekle, Jeff Ellis, Matt Barnard, Mehran Pourzanjani, Susan Dowty, Carl Josephson, or Ryan Turner), Chair Ryan Kersting, rkersting@buehlerengineering.com, or Executive Director Don Schinske, dschinske@seaoc.org.