Legislative Updates

Legislative Update from AEG’s Legislative Representative GV Ayers. Please contact Mbeswick@kleinfelder.com with any questions or comment below.


October 18, 2019

Some more notable bills that were signed are:  

AB 5 (Gonzalez) The bill codifies the April 2018 California Supreme Court ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) that presumes a worker is an employee unless a hiring entity satisfies a three-factor test, and exempts from the test certain professions and business to business relationships.  The bill exempted engineers and architects, but did not exempt geologists or geophysicists.  All parties involved in the bill have said that there will be clean-up legislation in 2020.  I have reached out to the Senate Labor Committee Consultant who worked on the bill to request a meeting to discuss exemptions for our licensees.

AB 1522 (Low) Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists: licensees.  The bill extends BPELSG’s sunset to January 1, 2024.  The bill also authorizes the Board, to take enforcement action upon a geologist-in-training for violations; makes it a misdemeanor for an unlicensed person to use the title  “professional geologist”, “registered geophysicist”, “professional geophysicist” or title of any licensed certified specialty; makes numerous technical and clarifying.  AEG SUPPORTED this bill.

SB 339 (Jones R) Engineers, land surveyors, and geologists and geophysicists: nondisclosure agreements: reporting.  The bill provides that a licensee under the BPELSG, including geologists and geophysicists, who is retained as an expert witness enters into a nondisclosure agreement, that agreement shall not be construed to prevent the licensee from reporting a potential violation of the Professional Engineers Act, or of the Professional Land Surveyors’ Act, as applicable to the licensee, to the board. The specifies that those provisions in each of the acts would not be construed to be, or act as, a waiver of any applicable attorney-client or attorney work product privileges.

The Governor Vetoed the following bills:

AB 638 (Gray D) Department of Water Resources: water storage: climate change impacts.  The Governor’s veto message said the issue should be evaluated in the context of the whole water portfolio and take a holistic approach to securing California’s water future.

SB 487 (Caballero D) Department of Water Resources: aerial snow survey.  The Governor said the issue should be considered in a wider water resources context, and that because of the large fiscal the issue should be considered in the Budget Process.


September 30, 2019

The Governor has until midnight October 13 to sign or veto the bills passed in this legislative Session.

Bills which were not passed by the Legislature before the 9/13 deadline are now 2-Year Bills, and cannot be acted upon until after the Legislature reconvenes on January 6, 2020, for the second year of the 2019-2020 Legislative Session.

Governor Newsom signed AB 5 (Lorena Gonzalez) dealing with independent contractors very quickly on September 18.  He had previously expressed his support for the bill in a Labor Day Editorial.

Specifically the bill codifies the California Supreme Court Decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles (2018) that presumes a worker is an employee unless a hiring entity satisfies a three-factor test (“ABC” Test), and exempts from the test a number of professions and business to business relationships.  There is tremendous variation in those professions who were and who were not carved out of the bill.  Physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, veterinarians, lawyers, architects, engineers, private investigators, accountants, securities brokers, real estate licensees, repossessors, direct salespersons, graphic artists, cosmetologists, and a host of other trades and professions were carved out.  However the bill did NOT exempt many professions including geologists and geophysicists as well as land surveyors, landscape architects and many professions and trades, including painters, plumbers and others.  Many in the healthcare professions – physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical counselors, physical therapists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and marriage and family therapists were not exempted.  A number of members of the Legislature have indicated that there will be more cleanup legislation next year.  There will likely be some lawsuits, and the ridesharaing companies (Uber and Lyft) have talked about a ballot initiative to overturn the law/ruling.  There will be much more on this issue.

Other Legislation of note: 

1522 (Low) Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists: licensees.

Extends the BPELSG Sunset date to January 1, 2024; authorizes the Board, to take enforcement action upon a geologist-in-training for violations; makes it a misdemeanor for an unlicensed person to use the title  “professional geologist”, “registered geophysicist”, “professional geophysicist” or title of any licensed certified specialty; makes numerous technical and clarifying.  AEG has a SUPPORT position on the bill.

Status:  Enrolled to the Governor for signature.

SB 339 (Jones R) Engineers, land surveyors, and geologists and geophysicists: nondisclosure agreements: reporting.  This bill was amended to include geologists and geophysicists.  It specifies that if a licensee under the Geologist and Geophysics Act who is retained as an expert witness enters into a nondisclosure agreement, that agreement shall not be construed to prevent the licensee from reporting a potential violation of the act to the BPELSG.  The bill includes both engineers and land surveyors, as well as geologists and geophysicists.

This bill has been signed by the Governor and will take effect January 1, 2020.

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June 5, 2019:

Friday, May 31 was the deadline for bills to pass out of the house in which they were introduced – termed the House of Origin Deadline.  Bills which do not meet that deadline become 2-Year Bills, and cannot be taken up until 2020.

Only one bill being tracked did not meet that deadline:  AB 626 (Quirk-Silva) relating to conflicts of interests for design professionals (including geologists) involving public contracts.  This bill was placed on the Assembly’s Inactive file at the request of the Author.

Please take a look at the following four bills.  AEG may wish to weigh in on the policies in these bills.

AB 1522 (Assembly Committee on Business & Professions) This is the Sunset extension for the BPELGS.  Currently the bill simply extends the sunset date until January 1, 2024.  This is the bill in which changes coming out of the Sunset Review of the Board would be made.  The amendments have not been made yet, but must be made soon.  My discussions with Committee staff do not indicate that there will be any significant changes related to geology practice.  There is no indication that there will be any threats to geology or geophysics licensure.

SB 556 (Pan) Professional Land Surveyors and Engineers.  Revises the land surveyor and civil engineering practices.  I would suggest that AEG review the changes for any impact to the geologists scope of practice.  Some of the revisions refer to works below the surface of the earth.  In particular, the bill defines “remote sensing” under the practice of engineering and land surveying to mean “the detecting, collection, processing and analysis of physical objects regarding the location or dimensions of a location or object, or otherwise using various acquisition methods intended to or resulting in the determination of the configuration or contour of the earth’s surface or the position of fixed objects above, on or below the surface of the earth.  You may wish to review to see if there is any impact of concern to AEG’s interests. 

AB 613 (Low) Professions and vocations: regulatory fees.  This bill would allow DCA boards, including BPELSG, to increase their fees every 4 years based on the increase in the California Consumer Price Index.  Proposed fee increases would be reviewed and approved by the Director or the Department of Consumer Affairs.  This would allow a board to increase fees without pursuing legislation (legislation typically sets maximum fees that a board can charge) or without a regulatory change (the specific fees are typically set by regulations adopted by the board).  This decreases input and transparency by the public and by the professions which pay the fees.  This was brought to my attention by the California Medical Association (CMA) who is opposing the bill.  AEG may wish to review this bill and consider weighing in on the policy.

SB 339 (Jones R) Engineers, land surveyors, and geologists and geophysicists: nondisclosure agreements: reporting.  This bill was amended on June 4 to include geologists and geophysicists.  It specifies that if a licensee (including a geologists or geophysicists) who is retained as an expert witness enters into a nondisclosure agreement, that agreement shall not be construed to prevent the licensee from reporting a potential violation of the act to the BPELSG.