CSLB Directors & Worker’s Comp

Striving to get contractors the best information possible means getting it right from the source in Sacramento. As most of you have other plans on the agenda, I go to these meetings where government decisions are made which are important to working contractors. Spend a moment to learn what you missed at the most recent meeting of decision makers at the CSLB…

The NO VACANCY sign was posted at this meeting of the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). On August 26th, the Board welcomed it’s most recent member, Pastor Herrera Jr. along with 4 returning members who were reappointed by Governor Schwarzenegger. For the first time in recent memory, all 15 positions were filled and as one member noted, it’s great not having to “dial for a quorum”.

Mr. Herrera, in introducing himself noted that Pastor is his name not a title. He has served as the Director of Consumer Affairs for Los Angeles County since 1991 and as Assistant Director for the decade before that. He started as an investigator with the agency in 1976. According to Mr. Herrera, he and his Dept. have helped tens of thousands of county residents on a variety of issues related to consumer protection and fraud prevention.

After many years of ups and downs, the CSLB is currently up to date on processing most applications. Board Member Joan Hancock, Chair of the Licensing Committee, congratulated CSLB staff who have been working diligently to reduce their workload as part of the Governor’s Job Creation Initiative. For instance, as of late August, renewals and exam applications are being processed in about a week.

Also of note, is the CSLB’s new email alert! For the first time, contractors and other interested parties can sign up for email alerts including press releases, public meeting notices and Industry Bulletins. As a cost saving measure, the ‘California Licensed Contractor’ newsletter, which for years has been mailed to every contractor, will now only be available online. To view the Summer 2010 edition, visit the CSLB web site or Capitol Services at www.cutredtape.com. The most recent newsletter is posted on my Online Resources page.

The Legislative Committee reported on several bills of interest to contractors. The most significant piece of legislation — SB 1254 (Leno) — was sponsored by the CSLB, and is headed to the Governor for signature or veto. This bill would authorize the Registrar of Contractors to issue a Stop Work Order to any licensed or unlicensed contractor who, as an employer, has failed to secure Worker’s Compensation Insurance coverage for his or her employees.

This bill would also provide for an increase from 3 to 12 in the number of CSLB peace officers. By putting more teeth into enforcement, the CSLB hopes to level the playing field for those licensed contractors who are playing by the rules (i.e. they cover all their employees).

In addition to forgoing Worker’s Comp coverage, more contractors in this down economy may be cutting corners including not paying withholding taxes, underreporting Worker’s Comp or paying cash “under the table”. This move to the “Dark Side”, as expressed by one Board member, should be a concern to all legitimate contractors. For those tempted to take this short cut, be aware that not only are the Employment Development Dept (EDD) and other State agencies’ investigating these abuses, but also recent Court decisions could jeopardize your ability to be paid for work performed.

While there are no vacancies on the CSLB, all Board meetings are open to the public and contractors are encouraged to attend. Details on future Full Board meetings and various Committee meetings will be covered in later columns.