Governor Vetoes Bill for Retrofit Tax Credits

By Don Schinske, SEAOC Executive Director

In one of the closing moves of the 2015 legislative session, Governor Brown vetoed legislation that would have authorized $60 million in tax credits for seismic retrofit projects.  AB 148 (Nazarian) along with eight other unrelated tax credit bills was vetoed en masse, with Brown citing the state’s “precariously balanced budget.” The move was seen as admonishment to the Legislature for failing to replace revenue to be lost from an expiring tax on health care plans.   It also means the retrofit proposal, which was heavily backed by the City of Los Angeles and associations of apartment building owners, likely will not interest the Governor next year if it is reintroduced and the larger budget issues aren’t addressed.

SEAOC pursued a  Support if Amended position on AB 428 throughout the year.  Although the author took some of SEAOC’s suggested amendments early on, we continued to ask that the bill include guidance on how jurisdictions should priortize projects based on their importance to the community, and specify the performance levels sought.  SEAOC appreciates Assemblymember Nazarian’s leadership on this issue, at a time when more cities are trying to address the safety of their older building stock through local retrofit ordinances. 

Other bills of interest this year include:

AB 177 (Bonilla) reauthorizes operation of the Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists through 2019.  Governor signed.

AB 181 (Bonilla), among other provisions, removes language from the Business & Professions Code that SEAOC had added last year  (through SB 1467) that directly referenced the sections of the Education Code the Health & Safety Code that contain the SE authority to design schools and hospitals.  PECG claimed, and BPELSG agreed, that the new language had created some confusion re. the practice of civil engineering.  Elimination of the references does not affect current SE authority in any way.  SEAOC hopes to restore the references elsewhere in the Business & Professions Code, at the time we move forward with legislation to expand SE authority to design “significant structures.”

AB 320 (Wood) proposes a new title act for environmental engineers.   Sponsored by PECG and opposed by BPELSG, the bill was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee and was made a two-year bill. 

AB 771 (Atkins), a more narrow tax credit bill, would authorize a credit of up to 25 percent of costs for owner who rehabiliate buildings that are on either the national or state registers of historic places.  The Governor vetoed a similar proposal in 2014.  AB 771 was held in its first fiscal committee, and was made a two-year bill.

AB 1200 (Gordon) provides that communicating with state government officials to influence procurement could constitute “lobbying” in certain circumstances.  ACEC-CA successfully persuaded legislators to slow down the bill, which drew late opposition from the State Department of Finance.  Now a two-year bill.

SB 602 (Monning) would authorize the California Earthquake Authority to create a contractual assessment program that allows homeowners to finance seismic improvements, modelled on the PACE program that incentives improvements in energy efficiency.  The bill advanced to its final fiscal committee.  Now a two-year bill. 

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