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News: Legislative Updates

SEAOC Legislative Committee Update – May 2018

Thursday, May 17, 2018  

By Ryan Kersting, S.E., SEAOC Legislative Committee Chair

The following is a summary of SEAOC’s Legislative Committee activity since our last update in February:

AB 1857 (Nazarian) – Functional Recovery Standard for New Buildings
In response to active engagement and suggested revisions from SEAOC (initially expressed in a “support if amended letter”), EERI and others, AB 1857 was amended in early April from its original version introduced in January such that SEAOC was able to write an updated letter of support prior to the bill being heard by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.  One of the biggest changes was to focus the bill on development of a functional recovery standard that might have different criteria for different buildings rather than implementing an immediate occupancy standard for all buildings.  SEAOC was invited to testify in support of the bill alongside Assemblyman Nazarian (author of the bill) and Dr. Lucy Jones (sponsor of the bill).  The committee made some additional minor amendments to the bill (dated April 12) and passed it by a vote of 5-2.  AB 1857 is currently in the process of being reviewed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and a decision should be made by the end of May as to if the bill will be forwarded to the floor for debate and vote by the full Assembly.

AB 2681 (Nazarian) – Inventory (and Evaluation?) of Potentially Vulnerable Existing Buildings
Although SEAOC has not taken a formal position on this bill, SEAOC has been heavily involved – working diligently with Assemblyman Nazarian, his staff, the bill’s sponsors, and other supporters and opponents as the bill has been going through the process.  The bill was slightly revised in early April prior to being heard by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee (which passed it by a vote of 12-3, with 6 abstentions) and by the Assembly Local Government Committee (which passed it by a vote of 6-2, with 1 abstention).  The bill as currently amended calls for inventory and engineering evaluation of various types of potentially vulnerable buildings.  Even though the bill seemed to pass easily through both committees, concerns have been expressed by some opponents and by some of the lawmakers during the committee hearings about the scope of the bill and its potential impacts on local jurisdictions and private building owners.  These concerns have been expressed in the context that changes likely need to be made to the bill in order to get enough support for a revised bill to move forward.  SEAOC’s objective is to support a bill that produces useful, cost-beneficial inventory data and does not interfere with or delay local governments' efforts to do the same or to continue to plan their own earthquake risk reduction.  In an effort to see some progress toward that objective (rather than possibly none at all), SEAOC has proposed alternative language that focuses and simplifies the bill on the most important aspects and addresses many of the concerns that have been raised.  AB 2681 is currently in the process of being reviewed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and a decision should be made by the end of May as to if the bill will be forwarded to the floor for debate, revision, and vote by the full Assembly.  SEAOC’s alternative language may need to be used by Assemblyman Nazarian as the bill gets discussed and revised during the Appropriations Committee process for the bill to be moved forward.

SB 993 (Hertzberg) – Tax on Services (including Professional Engineering Services)
SEAOC is opposed to this bill that would impose a tax on services (such as professional engineering services) purchased by businesses in California and has joined over 100 other business organizations / professional associations (including ACEC-Ca and AIA-CC) in a jointly-written letter of opposition.  This bill is continuing to be discussed within the Senate Governance and Finance Committee.

SB 920 (Cannella) – LLPs for Engineering, Architecture, and Land Surveying
SEAOC has written a letter in support of this bill which would extend the current sunset date of current law from 2019 until at least 2026 for engineers (and certain other professionals) to form limited liability partnerships.  This bill has easily passed through its Senate committee hearings and is headed to the floor for debate (if needed) and vote by the full Senate.  ACEC-Ca and AIA-CC have co-sponsored this bill.

AB 2353 – Construction Defects
This bill was recently significantly amended and revised from its original focus regarding changing the statute of limitations on construction defects and now appears to be focused on a different inspection-related aspect of construction defects. SEAOC is continuing to monitor this bill.

For additional information on these items or other topics, please contact SEAOC Executive Director Don Schinske or Legislative Committee Chair Ryan Kersting.