HBA-MPA, ALS H.B. 1544 76(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1544 By: Haggerty Licensing & Administrative Procedure 7/12/1999 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Prior to the 76th Legislature, Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (The Texas Engineering Practice Act), provided for the licensing of professional engineers and regulation of engineering firms. Although these regulations existed, they were not widely enforced due to the difficulty in tracking those persons and firms purportedly engaged in the defined practice of engineering. Approximately 22 other states require engineering firms to obtain a certificate of authorization and approximately 10 states require firms to be registered with the state. The model licensing law of the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveying also contains such provisions. The purpose of this bill is to improve enforcement of regulations and to protect the public. H.B. 1544 sets forth a requirement for firms engaging in the practice of engineering in Texas to register with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (board) and requires the board to publish a roster of engineers and engineering firms. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority previously delegated to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers is modified in SECTION 6 (Sections 16.1 and 17, Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (The Texas Engineering Practice Act)) of this bill. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Section 1.2, Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (Texas Engineering Practice Act), to provide that any sole proprietorship which does, or offers or attempts to do, any of the acts or things set forth under Subsection (a) is conclusively presumed and regarded as engaging in the practice of engineering. Makes nonsubstantive changes. SECTION 2. Amends Section 8(a), Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (Texas Engineering Practice Act), to make a nonsubstantive change. SECTION 3. Amends Section 11, Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (Texas Engineering Practice Act), as follows: Sec.11. New title: ENGINEER ROSTER. Deletes "of licensed engineers" from existing title. Requires the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (board) to prepare and publish a roster of persons or business entities licensed, registered, certified, or enrolled by the board. Requires the roster to include the names, business addresses, and other identifying information required by board rule. Requires the board to make the roster available to the public without cost in an online computer database format. Requires the board to provide a physical copy of the roster on request. Authorizes the board to charge a shipping fee, in addition to a reproduction fee, for providing the copy. Deletes language requiring the board to prepare and publish a roster each biennium at a time determined by the board, and requiring the roster to be placed on file with the secretary of state. SECTION 4. Amends Section 13(b), Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (Texas Engineering Practice Act), to require the board to establish a reasonable and necessary examination fee not to exceed $200, rather than $120, and a registration fee for engineering firms not to exceed $100. SECTION 5. Amends Section 13B(c), Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (Texas Engineering Practice Act), to provide that Subsection (a) does not apply to a licensed professional engineer who is exempt from licensure under Section 20(a)(5) or (6), rather than Section 20(e) or (f), of this Act but who does not claim that exemption. SECTION 6. Amends Sections 16.1 and 17, Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (Texas Engineering Practice Act), as follows: Sec. 16.1. New title: EXPIRATION DATES OF LICENSES AND REGISTRATIONS. Adds "and registrations" to the existing title. Makes a conforming change. Sec. 17. New title: SOLE PROPRIETORSHIPS, FIRMS, PARTNERSHIPS, CORPORATIONS AND JOINT STOCK ASSOCIATIONS. (a) Authorizes a sole proprietorship, firm, co-partnership, corporation, or joint stock association to engage or offer to engage in the practice of professional engineering if the entity is registered with the board and the practice is only carried on by professional engineers licensed in this state. Makes nonsubstantive changes. (b) Provides that an entity must file an application with the board on a form provided by the board in order to be registered under this section. Provides that the application must list the names of specified persons, in addition to any other information required by board rule. (c) Provides that the registration of an entity issued under this section is valid for one year. Authorizes the registration to be renewed by filing an updated application under Subsection (b). SECTION 7. Amends Sections 18(a), Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (Texas Engineering Practice Act), to make conforming changes. SECTION 8. Amends Section 20, Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (Texas Engineering Practice Act), to redesignate existing Subsections (a)-(g) to Subsections (a)(1)-(a)(7) and existing Subsections (h)-(l) to Subsections (b)-(f), and adds a new Subsection (g), to prohibit a person who claims an exemption from this article under Subsection (a)(5) or (6) (concerning regular full-time employees of a private corporation or other business entity, or privately owned public or cooperative utility) who is determined to have directly or indirectly held the person out as legally qualified to engage in the practice of engineering from claiming such an exemption until the 10th anniversary of the date of such a holding. Makes conforming and nonsubstantive changes. SECTION 9.(a) Effective date: September 1, 1999. (b) Requires the board to adopt rules providing for the registration of engineering entities no later than November 1, 1999. (c) Provides that Sections 17 and 18, Article 3271a, V.T.C.S. (Texas Engineering Practice Act), take effect January 1, 2000. SECTION 10.Emergency clause.