BGG Legislative Update
by Matthew Hawley, Chair So Cal Section
Legislative Issues Persist
As you all are likely aware, our Section along with the other California Sections recently pressed onward to Sacramento to fight for the continuation of the Board for Geologists and Geophysicists (BGG). Senate Bill 228 (SB228, Figueroa) proposes to continue with the BGG until 2011-2012 and AEG is in favor of its passing.
The Governorís administration however, does not believe the Board provides a measurable level of service to the public and has thus indicated to Governor Schwartzenegger that this bill should not be signed into law. In fact, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA, where the BGG is located) recommended that the services provided by the BGG be blended into those provided by the Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (BPELS) as they are larger in number, and thus must be a better organization. This strong-arm tactic by the DCA was summarily rejected by Senator Figueroa as baseless and too late in the process for consideration. However, the Governor has indicated he will not sign the bill if this proposed merger is rejected by Figueroa, the Senate and the Assembly. Thus, the BGG will sunset and the BGG will become a Bureau.
Based on the e-mails, phone calls and discussions I had with AEG members, the proposed merger was not highly welcome. However, the Bureau idea was not so welcomed either. What to do, what to do??
In order to campaign for our and the publicís interests, a two-pronged front was formulated. The first was a letter-writing campaign to the Legislative Business and Professions Committee, the DCA and the Governor to indicate the level of support the profession has for the Board and to indicate the flaws with the proposed merger. I must say this campaign went very well as I personally reviewed nearly three dozen letters all of which were nicely prepared and insightful.
The second was the formulation of a Political Action Group (PAG) to march on Sacramento to show our support for SB 228 and Senator Figueroa and to indicate the faults with the proposed merger. The Group went up on Tuesday June 28th and spoke to the Legislative Business and Professions Committee. Focused, as of one mind and body, our Group presented our arguments to the Committee. The resulting vote was a 10-0 decision in favor of the billís passage without amendment. Because the Committee is composed of both Republican and Democratic representatives, it is our hope this outcome sends a message to the Governor that the BGG provides services that are not quickly or easily blended with other Boards and that the BGG does provide a valuable service for the public.
Although PAG left Sacramento with the best possible outcome for our efforts, it is our understanding that the fight is not yet won. Additional review and committees are forthcoming and additional efforts will be needed. I hope that we can count on your continuing efforts and additional efforts by those who have yet to become involved.
For this Newsletter, Iíd like to specifically thank the following individuals who spent their own time and money to accompany me to present to the Legislative Committee:
- Charles Nestle - SoCal Section Vice Chair, CCGO Vice President
- Brian Villalobos - SoCal Section Treasurer
- Roz Munro - SoCal Section Secretary
- Peter Thams - SoCal Section Legislative Committee
- Terri Wright - SoCal Section Member Consultant
- Dave Bieber - AEG National President
- Patrick Drumm - San Francisco Section Chair
- Darcie Forma - Sacramento Section Vice Chair
- Eric Chase - Sacramento Section Member Consultant
- Steve Baker - Professional Engineers in California Government
- Robert Holmer - California Geotechnical Engineers Association Director
- Tim Parker - Groundwater Resources Association Director
- Judy Wolen Ė AEG Lobbyist
Thank you all very much for your participation and concern for the well-being of the geologic, hydrologic and geotechnical concerns in California. Well Done.