Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 34
By: Goolsby
Licensing & Administrative Procedures


During the last decade, geoscientists in Texas have been increasingly
called upon to undertake responsibilities involving the environment and
public health and safety.  Currently, Texas does not have unified
qualification standards for state agencies to regulate the public practice
of geoscience. Geoscience means the study of the earth's origin and
history, its soils, rocks, minerals, fossil fuels, solids, fluids, and the
natural and introduced agents, forces, and processes that cause changes in
and on the earth.  H.B. 34 regulates the public practice of geoscience,
establishes the qualification standards for licensed geoscientists, and
provides penalties for the violation of this Act.   


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Board of Professional
Geoscientists in SECTION 1 (Sections 4.01, 4.03, 4.05, 6.08, 7.01, 8.01,
and 10.03, Texas Geoscience Practice Act) of this bill. 


SECTION 1.  Adopts the Texas Geoscience Practice Act, as follows:


Sec. 1.01.  SHORT TITLE.  Authorizes this Act to be cited as the Texas
Geoscience Practice Act. 

Sec. 1.02.  DEFINITIONS.  Defines "board," "certified geoscientist,"
"geoscience," "geoscientist," "geoscientist-in-training," "licensed
geoscientist," "performance before the public," "public practice of the
geosciences," and "responsible charge."   

Sec. 1.03.  APPLICATION OF SUNSET ACT.  Establishes that the Texas Board of
Professional Geoscientists (board) is subject to Chapter 325, Government
Code (Texas Sunset Act), and that this Act expires and the board is
abolished on September 1, 2011, unless continued as provided by that

Sec. 1.04.  APPLICATION OF ACT.  Provides that this Act does not authorize
the practice of engineering as defined by the Texas Engineering Practice
Act (Art. 3271a, V.T.C.S.) by a licensed geoscientist, nor does this Act
authorize the practice of professional surveying as defined by the
Professional Land Surveying Practices Act (Art. 5282c, V.T.C.S.) by a
licensed geoscientist.  Establishes that this Act does not apply to a
registered surveyor who confines the surveyor's practice to acts allowed
under that statute. 


Sec. 2.01.  BOARD MEMBERSHIP.  Requires the board, to be composed of nine
members appointed by the governor, to administer this Act.  Provides that
two members be members of the public and the remaining seven be licensed
geoscientists who, to the extent possible, represent the occupational
distribution of licensed or regulated geoscientists.  Requires that
appointments be made without regard to a person's race, color, disability,
sex, religion, age,  or national origin. 

Sec. 2.02.  MEMBER ELIGIBILITY.  Establishes that a member of the board be
at least 25 years of age, a United States citizen, and a Texas resident for
at least three years preceding the appointment.  Provides that a person is
ineligible for appointment if the person or the person's spouse is
registered, certified, or licensed by an occupational regulatory agency in
the geoscience field; is employed or participates in the management of, or
owns or controls more than a 10 percent interest in, a business entity or
other organization regulated by or receiving money from the board; or
receives a substantial amount of goods, services, or money from the board
other than lawful compensation or reimbursement for membership, attendance,
or expenses. 

Sec. 2.03.  MEMBERSHIP AND EMPLOYEE RESTRICTIONS.  (a)  Defines "society or
trade association."  

b)  Prohibits a person from serving as a board member or board employee in
a "bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity," as that
phrase is used in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. Section
201 et seq.), if the person is an officer, employee or paid consultant of a
society or trade association in the geoscience field, or if the person's
spouse is an officer, manager, or paid consultant of such an association. 

(c)  Prohibits a person from serving as a board member or general counsel
for the board if the person is required to register as a lobbyist under
Chapter 305, Government Code (Registration of Lobbyists), concerning
activities on behalf of a profession related to the board's operation.      

Sec. 2.04.  TERMS.  Establishes that board members serve staggered six-year
terms, and that three of the members' terms will expire on February 1 of
odd-numbered years.  Prohibits a member from serving more than two
consecutive full terms. 

Sec. 2.05.  GROUNDS FOR REMOVAL.  (a)  Establishes that the grounds for a
member's removal from office include that the member no longer qualifies
for appointment to the board, engages in misconduct or malfeasance, is
determined incompetent, or  commits a felony or a violation of this Act or
neglects the member's duties. 

(b)  Provides that the validity of a board's action is unaffected if taken
while grounds for removal of a board member exist. 

(c)  Requires the executive director to notify the board's presiding
officer of a potential ground for removal or to notify the assistant
presiding officer if the ground for removal involves the presiding officer.
Requires the presiding officer or assistant presiding officer to notify the
governor and the attorney general that the ground for removal exists. 

Sec. 2.06.  REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES.  Entitles board members to
reimbursement for travel expenses incurred while conducting the board's
business, as provided by the General Appropriations Act. 

Sec. 2.07.  OFFICERS.  Requires the board to elect a presiding officer,
assistant presiding officer, and secretary-treasurer every two years and
prohibits a member from holding one of these positions for more than two
consecutive two-year terms.  Authorizes the board to remove a member from a
position by a two-thirds majority vote of the board.  Authorizes the board
to appoint non-member assistants to assist the board in carrying out its
powers and duties. 

Sec. 2.08.  OFFICE.  Requires the board to maintain its office in Austin.

Sec. 2.09.  MEETINGS.  Requires the board to hold at least two regular
meetings per calendar year, and authorizes the board to hold a special
meeting at a time permitted by rule of the board. 
Sec. 2.10.  TRAINING.  Prohibits a board appointee from serving as a member
of the board if the person has not completed a training program which
provides a person with specified information regarding the board's
background, role and functions, programs, rules, current budget, audit,
ethics policies, and formal procedural and administrative requirements.
Entitles a board appointee to reimbursement for travel expenses incurred
for attending the training program, as provided by the General
Appropriations Act. 


Sec. 3.01.  EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.  Requires the board to appoint an executive
director to manage specified administrative affairs of the board. 

Sec. 3.02.  RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS; ACCOUNT.  Requires the executive
director to manage all money received under this Act, to transfer the money
to the comptroller, and to annually file a written report with the
comptroller which accounts for all receipts, expenditures, and account
balances.  Requires all money received and interest earned to be deposited
in the geoscientists' fund account in the general revenue fund, subject to
the comptroller's accounting policies and audits.  Authorizes money in the
account to be used only for expenses incurred by the board in the
administration and enforcement of this Act.    

Sec. 3.03.  SEPARATION OF RESPONSIBILITIES.  Requires the board to develop
and implement policies that clearly separate the policymaking
responsibilities of the board and the management duties of the executive
director and board staff. 

executive director or a designee to provide board members and board staff
with information regarding requirements for office or employment under this
Act, including applicable standards of conduct for state officers or

executive director or a designee to develop an intra-agency career ladder
program that addresses opportunities for mobility and advancement of board
employees and to post intraagency positions concurrently with public
postings.  Requires the executive director or a designee to develop an
annual employee performance evaluation system upon which decisions
regarding merit pay for a board employee are based. 

Sec. 3.06.  EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY POLICY.  Requires the board or a
designee to prepare, file with the governor's office, and annually update a
written equal employment opportunity policy statement which ensures that
all personnel decisions are made regardless of race, color, disability,
sex, religion, age, or national origin.  Establishes that the statement,
which must be reviewed by the Texas Commission on Human Rights, include
personnel policies relating to recruitment, evaluation, selection,
training, promotion of personnel, and the board's intent to avoid the
unlawful employment practices described by Chapter 21, Labor Code
(Employment Discrimination).  Provides that the statement include an
analysis of the extent to which the composition of the board's personnel
complies with state and federal law, including a description of reasonable
methods to achieve compliance with state and federal law. 


Sec. 4.01.  GENERAL RULEMAKING AUTHORITY.  Authorizes the board to adopt
and enforce rules consistent with this Act and necessary for the
performance of its duties. 

Sec. 4.02.  FEES.  Authorizes the board to set reasonable and necessary
fees including those for application, examination, licensure, and license
renewal under this Act. 

Sec. 4.03.  CODE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT.  Requires the board, by rule, to
adopt  a code of professional conduct for all license holders under this
Act and authorizes the board to enforce the code by imposing sanctions as
provided by this Act. 

Sec. 4.04.  ENFORCEMENT.  Requires the board to enforce this Act.
Authorizes any board member to present a complaint about the violation of
this Act to a prosecuting officer and authorizes the board to assist in the
trial of a case involving such a violation.  Authorizes the board to
administer oaths and affirmations and to issue subpoenas that compel the
attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence.  Requires the
attorney general to act as legal adviser to the board and to render legal
assistance in the enforcement of this Act. 

Sec. 4.05.  RECOGNITION OF USE OF DESIGNATIONS.  Authorizes the board to
recognize, by rule, the designations used by an organization that maintains
a geoscientist certification program if the board accepts the requirements
for that certification, the organization granting the certification states
its full name or recognized abbreviation in conjunction with the use of the
designation or abbreviation, and the designation or abbreviation does not
mislead anyone as to whether a person is licensed to practice geoscience.
Requires the board, by rule, to recognize "geological engineer,"
"geotechnical engineer," "hydraulic engineer," or "agricultural engineer"
as legitimate engineering titles, separate from the geosciences, which
require licensure as a professional engineer  

Sec. 4.06.  AGREEMENTS TO DEVELOP UNIFORM STANDARDS.  Authorizes the board
to enter into agreements with licensing or registration boards in other
states and other appropriate organizations to develop uniform standards for
licensing, registration, accreditation, examinations, evaluations, or other
purposes consistent with this Act. 

board to incur administrative expenses necessary to appoint committees,
employ staff, contractors and consultants, lease or purchase equipment,
lease office space, and to incur other similar expenses. 

Sec. 4.08.  ROSTER OF LICENSE HOLDERS.  Requires the board to keep a roster
stating the name and place of business of each licensed geoscientist, to
provide a copy on request to a state agency, county or municipal clerk,
building official, or a license holder, and to provide a copy to anyone
upon written request, subject to payment of a reasonable fee set by the

WITH WHICH RECIPROCITY AGREEMENT EXISTS. Requires the board to maintain a
list of each state, territory, or possession of the United States, the
District of Columbia or foreign country in which the requirements and
qualifications for licensure or registration are comparable to those in
Texas and with which a reciprocity agreement exists. 


Sec. 5.01.  PUBLIC INTEREST INFORMATION.  Requires the board to prepare
information that describes the board's regulatory functions and the
procedures for filing and resolving complaints, and to make the information
available to the public and to appropriate state agencies. 

Sec. 5.02.  COMPLAINTS.  (a)  Authorizes a person to bring a complaint
alleging a violation of this Act or a rule adopted under this Act. 

(b)  Specifies that a complaint be in writing, sworn to by the person
making the complaint, and filed with the secretary-treasurer of the board. 

(c)  Requires the board to keep a file on each complaint that states
specific information about the complaint. 
(d)  Requires the board to provide a copy of the board's policies and
procedures concerning complaint investigation and resolution to the person
filing the complaint and to each person who is a subject of the complaint. 

(e)  Requires the board to investigate all complaints brought to its
attention.  Authorizes the board to employ investigators, expert witnesses,
and hearing officers, to appoint advisory committees, and to conduct
hearings to determine what action, if any, should be taken. 

(f)  Requires the board to notify, at least quarterly until final
disposition, the person filing the complaint and each person who is a
subject of the complaint regarding the status of the investigation, unless
the notice would jeopardize an undercover investigation. 

Sec. 5.03.  PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.  Requires the board to develop and
implement policies that provide the public with a reasonable opportunity to
appear before the board and speak on any issue under the board's


Sec. 6.01.  LICENSE REQUIRED.  Prohibits a person who is not licensed under
this Act from engaging in the public practice of the geosciences, from
using the term "Licensed Professional Geoscientist" or the initials "P.G."
as identification, or representing that the person is qualified to practice
as a geoscientist.  Prohibits a person who is not licensed under this Act
from taking responsible charge of a geoscientific report or a portion of a
report required by state or federal law or regulation, or municipal or
county ordinance that incorporates or is based on a geoscientific study or
data.  Prohibits this state or a political subdivision of this state from
contracting for geoscientific services with any person not licensed under
this Act or with a business that employs a person not licensed under this
Act who is responsible for geoscentific work.  Provides that this
subsection does not apply to a contract between a state agency or political
subdivision and an employee of the agency or subdivision. 

Sec. 6.02.  EXEMPTIONS.  Lists specific activities that do not require a
license under this Act.       

Sec. 6.03.  LICENSE APPLICATION.  Establishes that an applicant for a
license as a geoscientist, including an applicant for a temporary or
reciprocal license, must sign and swear to an application before a notary
public on a form prescribed by the board which contains the applicant's
educational and professional information, at least five reference letters,
three of which must be from geoscientists who have personal knowledge of
the applicant's work experience, and a signed statement of compliance with
this Act's code of professional conduct. 

Sec. 6.04.  EXAMINATIONS.  Authorizes the board to administer and grade
oral and written examinations required under this Act.  Authorizes the
board to prepare its own examinations or to adopt an examination of another
organization if the board determines it appropriately measures the
applicant's qualifications and if the board has access to the examination
questions, the correct answers, and the applicant's completed examination,
and if the board retains the authority to determine a passing grade for a
license in this state. 

Sec. 6.05.  LICENSE ELIGIBILITY.  Establishes the eligibility requirements
for an applicant for a license as a geoscientist which include showing good
moral and ethical character as attested to by letters of reference or as
determined by the board, meeting specified educational requirements,
documenting at least four years of work experience in the field of
geoscience, passing an examination required by the board, and meeting the
board's other requirements. 

Sec. 6.06.  QUALIFYING EXPERIENCE.  Requires the board to evaluate the
experience  of an applicant for a geoscientist's license by counting as one
year in the profession of the geosciences each year of professional
experience acceptable to the board that took place under the direction of a
geoscientist licensed in Texas or another state with comparable
requirements or under the direction of a person who meets the educational
and professional requirements for licensure but is not required to be
licensed under this Act.  Requires the board to establish that each year of
professional geoscience experience acquired before September 1, 2000,
constitutes one year of professional experience if the experience occurred
under the direction of a geoscientist licensed in Texas or another state
with comparable requirements, under the direction of a person who meets the
educational and professional requirements for licensure but is not required
to be licensed under this Act, or if the experience would constitute the
responsible charge of professional geoscientific work as determined by the

that each year of full-time graduate study in the geosciences that is
acceptable to the board, up to two years per applicant, constitutes one
year of professional experience in the geosciences.  Authorizes the board
to accept teaching or geoscientific research by a person studying
geosciences at the college or university level as qualifying experience if
the experience is comparable to experience obtained in the practice of the

Sec. 6.08.  RECIPROCAL LICENSE.  Requires the board, by rule, to issue a
license to a person who has not met the examination requirement of Section
6.05(4) of this Act if the person has a license or is registered to
practice geoscience elsewhere, including a territory of the United States
or a foreign country.  Authorizes the board to issue a license to an
applicant who pays the required fees and provides proof of a license under
substantially similar requirements. 

Sec. 6.09.  TEMPORARY LICENSE.  Authorizes the board to issue a temporary
license to a person  waiting for a determination on an application for a
reciprocal license, in which case the temporary license would expire upon
such determination.  Authorizes the board to issue a temporary license to a
non-resident of Texas who seeks to practice geoscience in this state for a
temporary period and does not have an established place of business, in
which case the temporary license would expire 90 days after issuance.
Establishes application procedures for a temporary license. 

Sec. 6.10.  WAIVER OF REQUIREMENTS.  Authorizes the board to waive any of