The AIACC-sponsored bill to strengthen the qualifications-based selection of design professionals for public works was defeated in the State Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on a 3-0 vote, with the six other members of the Committee abstaining. The bill needed six “Aye” votes to pass.
SB 1424 would have required architects, engineers, and land surveyors to comply with the Qualifications-Based Selection law (QBS) when responding to an RFQ, including not providing a fee in response to an RFQ. This approach, also used in Nevada and Texas, was designed to empower design professionals to legally reject the growing practice of public entities requesting fees in the RFQ even though the RFQ does not provide enough scope to allow a design professional to submit a reasonable or fair fee.
SB 1424 would have supported the QBS law, which recognizes that the selection of the most qualified and competent design professional protects both the public safety and capital investment.
This bill was strongly and actively opposed by the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG), the labor union that represents design professionals who are employed by the state government. PECG argued that the selection of private sector design professionals for public works should be based on price and that QBS does not provide the best deal to the taxpayer. While that statement can be easily refuted, and our testimony did refute that claim, (with the help of an AIA member who is President of a firm in Sacramento), at the end of the day it did not get the votes to pass.
Given the importance this issue to California and the profession, the AIACC will continue looking at ways to address this problem, which may include another legislative effort next year.
Here is the vote breakdown:
Senator Bill Emmerson
Senator Tony Strickland
Senator Mark Wyland
Senator Curren Price
Senator Ellen Corbett
Senator Lou Correa
Senator Ed Hernandez
Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod
Senator Juan Vargas
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