Will the California State Contractor’s Board go ‘dark’ next year? It all depends on the Legislature’s decision based on the ‘highlights’ of accomplishments for contractors and consumers in California…
In November, the CSLB delivered its “Sunset Review Report” to the State Legislature and Governor. Most Consumer Boards and Commissions have a “sunset” date (currently January 1, 2016 for the CSLB), whereby they would cease to exist (i.e. sunset) unless the State Legislature extends their date of operation.
As part of this process, these Boards go through a periodic review and produce a comprehensive report on where they’ve been, where they are currently and where they hope to be (or anticipate) going in the upcoming years. Basically, it is a report justifying the continuation of the Contractors Board.
Among the Board’s many stated accomplishments highlighted within this 346 page report are:
1) Veterans Assistance where the CSLB offers a Veterans Application Assistance Program for troops transitioning from military service to civilian employment.
2) Sponsored legislation requiring Workers’ Compensation Recertification to help prevent under-reporting of employees when securing workers’ compensation insurance. An active licensee with an exemption from workers’ compensation insurance must either recertify the exemption or provide a current and valid Certificate of Insurance at the time of renewal.
3) Established a Complaint Disclosure Program with Partnering Government Agencies whereby the CSLB will disclose on its website any disciplinary action against contractors by partner state agencies.
4) Implemented an Underground Economy Program to take timely disciplinary action against contractors found during the mediation process to be participating in the underground economy.
5) To increase Building Permit Compliance, the CSLB developed a complaint form with input from building officials, industry groups, and other partner agencies so anyone with knowledge of a construction site that lacks a building permit can use the online form to file a complaint with board.
6) The CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) began partnering with state and local government agencies in 19 different counties as part of its District Attorney Office Partnership for License and WC Violations. For those contractors playing by the rules, these programs should be welcome.
The CSLB report also urges the Legislature and Administration to “support efforts to modernize and streamline laws and regulations related to contracting in California to help ease complicated requirements for contractors and confusing language that prevents consumers from making informed choices.” This includes a statement regarding how the application of B&P Code Section 7031(b) by the legal profession (including the courts) is overly broad. As an example, “If there is a break in licensure, even for one day, attorneys representing public agencies, prime contractors, commercial and/or industrial project owners, and consumers use the lapse as the basis to seek recovery of all compensation paid on a project, as though the contractor had been “unlicensed” for the entire term of the contract”. The same “unlicensed” interpretation is being applied to cases where a contractor has maintained a valid license in a classification for which the license was issued but, during the course of construction, performed a small amount of work that may later be deemed to have been “out-of-class”. Significantly, the terms “duly licensed” (as used in subdivision (a) and “unlicensed” (as used in subdivision (b) are not defined in the Contractors’ State License Law, but are decisive terms under Section 7031.
The Report goes on to say, the application of this statute in this manner may facilitate “unjust enrichment” to public agencies, prime contractors, and/or commercial/industrial project owners, which is an “unacceptable outcome within the spirit of the law.”