California Council of Geoscience Organizations - Since 1997
AN ADVOCATE FOR THE PROFESSION
IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST
Historic Notes: 2013 - The Legislative Impact of CCGO by Garry Maurath, PhD, PG
I would expect that all licensed geologists remember, or possibly were first introduced to CCGO about four years ago when a very small group of legislators decided, without input from the public or our industry, to eliminate the California Board of Geologists and Geophysicists. At that time there was a real possibility that registration of professional geologists and geophysicists in California would be eliminated, and the public would lose a significant means of protecting their health and safety. CCGO stepped in and had a major impact, ensuring the public was protected and that the registration of geologists and geophysicists was maintained. Although they were not able to save the Geology Board as an independent entity they were able to ensure the continuation of professional licensure by guiding and supporting the restructuring of the board within the framework of the Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. That campaign gave CCGO a significant amount of visibility and the organization continues to remain active in the legislative arena, being an advocate for the geologic profession by monitoring and actively opposing legislation that poses a threat to the practice rights of geological professionals.
A recent example of how CCGO can have an impact occurred during the current (2011-2012) session of the California State Legislature. During the first year of the session Assembly Bill 1210 was written, with the assistance of a few members of the ASCE, and introduced by Assemblyman Martin Garrick of the 74th Assembly District. The purpose of this bill was to exempt Professional Civil Engineers from complying with the recently enacted legislation requiring that Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans be prepared by professionals that had passed a state exam to be certified as Qualified SWPPP Preparers (QSP’s). Passage of this bill would have effectively gutted the QSP program and may have also resulted in anyone who is not a PE for preparing elements of a SWPPP, thus, effectively excluding many geologists, hydrogeologists, soil scientists, and other water resource professionals from preparing SWPPPÂ’s. Governor Jerry Brown vetoed this bill after extensive opposition from the geologic community.
During the second year of the legislative session, the bill was rewritten and Senator Roderick Wright of the 25th Senate District introduced Senate Bill 975. SB975 incorporated much more sweeping changes than AB1210. Under SB975 all Licensed Professionals would be exempt from ever being required to take any state or local qualifying exam in any area of expertise that could be construed to be covered by their “Professional License”. For example, once an engineer obtained their PE, no state or local government agency would ever be allowed to create a program that required additional education and certification of a PE to perform that work, regardless of whether or not the PE had any experience or training for the expertise in question. Effectively, this would prohibit all state and local government agencies from exercising their duty to protect the health and safety of the public by creating advanced training and certification requirements when they saw a need for such programs.
For example, when the state determined several years ago that there was a need for professionals creating SWPPPs to have specialized training in the handling of storm water runoff from construction sites because there had been numerous technical advances in the area during the past few decades, the state created the QSP certification program. Under SB975 all licensed professionals would be exempt from any such state program. Therefore, the state would not be able to enforce the program and subsequently no longer be able to ensure that professionals remain current with advances in science and technology. Bottom line, although government agencies were responsible for ensuring public health and safety, had SB975 passed they could no longer maintain the quality of that protection. In September 2012, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB975.
There is no doubt that we will see a resurrection of this bill in the years to come. CCGO is here to maintain a vigilant watch over potential legislation that would have a negative impact on the geologic community, and to support legislation that would maintain or enhance the geologic profession.
BPELSG Publicizes Changes to 2013 Laws and Regulations
Use this link to see BPELSG most up-to-date changes to Laws and Regulations relating to the pracitices of Geology and Geophysics, published on January 2, 2013: