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SB-176 State Bar of California.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 05/22/2019 09:00 PM
SB176:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  May 22, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  April 25, 2019
Amended  IN  Senate  March 27, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 176


Introduced by Senator Jackson

January 28, 2019


An act to amend Sections 6013.1, 6013.3, 6013.5, 6016, 6025, 6052, 6077, 6140, 6141, 6141.1, 6141.3, and 6230 of, to add Section 6032.1 to, and to repeal Sections 6022, 6026, and 6076.5 of, the Business and Professions Code, relating to attorneys.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 176, as amended, Jackson. State Bar of California.
The State Bar Act provides for the licensure and regulation of attorneys by the State Bar of California, a public corporation governed by a board of trustees, and provides that protection of the public is the highest priority of the State Bar of California and the board of trustees in exercising their licensing, regulatory, and disciplinary functions.
(1) Existing law requires the board of trustees to be comprised composed of attorney and nonattorney members, as specified, and requires that vacancies be filled. specified. Existing law requires the Supreme Court to appoint 5 attorney members to the board.
This bill would remove the requirements that vacancies be filled and would specify when the term of an appointee attorney member appointed to the board by the Supreme Court commences.
(2) Existing law requires the secretary of the State Bar to be selected annually by the board, and specifies that the secretary need not be a licensee. Existing law requires the board by rule to set meetings and to determine what constitutes quorum, as specified. Existing law requires, at the annual meeting of the board, reports to be received and authorizes matters pertaining to the State Bar and the administration of justice to be acted upon.
This bill would repeal those provisions.
(3) Existing law requires the board to establish a State Bar Court to act in its place and stead in the determination of specified disciplinary proceedings. Existing law authorizes the State Bar Court to, among other things, take and hear evidence pertaining to the proceeding, to administer oaths and affirmations, and to compel, by subpoena, the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, and documents pertaining to the proceeding.
Existing law authorizes a member of the board, or of a committee, unit, or section of the board having jurisdiction, to administer oaths and issue a subpoena pursuant to the provisions described above.
This bill would remove this authority of a member of the board, or of a committee, unit, or section of the board having jurisdiction, and would, instead, provide that the State Bar Court is authorized to administer oaths and issue a subpoena pursuant to the aforementioned provisions.
(4) Existing law authorizes the board to formulate and enforce rules of professional conduct for all licensees. Existing law provides that rules of professional conduct adopted by the board, when approved by the Supreme Court, are binding upon all licensees. Existing law additionally authorizes licensees to formulate by initiative rules of professional conduct for all licensees of the State Bar, as specified, and requires the rules of professional conduct approved by a majority of licensees and the Supreme Court have the same force and effect as the rules of professional conduct formulated and approved by the above-described provisions. Existing law authorizes the board, without petition, to direct the secretary to cause an initiative measure embodying a rule of professional conduct formulated by the board to be submitted to all active licensees for mail vote, as specified.
This bill would remove the authority of licensees to formulate, and submit to licensees for a vote, rules of professional conduct and remove the authority of the board to submit to licensees for a vote, rules of professional conduct.
(5) Under existing law, the board has the power to discipline licensees of the State Bar for willful breach of a rule of professional conduct approved by the Supreme Court, as specified.
This bill would remove this power of the board, and would, instead, give this power to the State Bar Court.
(6) Existing law, until January 1, 2020, requires the board to charge an annual license fee for active licensees at a sum not exceeding $315 for 2019. Existing law requires the board to fix the annual license fee for inactive licensees at a sum not exceeding $75. Existing law authorizes the board to waive the payment by a licensee of the annual license fee, any portion thereof, or any penalty thereon, as the board is authorized to provide by rule. Existing law requires the board to adopt a rule or rules providing that an active licensee who can demonstrate total gross annual individual income from all sources of less than $40,000 presumptively qualifies for a waiver of 25% of the annual license fee.
This bill would, until January 1, 2021, require the board to charge an annual license fee in an unspecified amount for active licensees at a sum not exceeding $460 for 2020. The bill would require the board to fix the annual license fee for inactive licensees at a sum not exceeding $109. The bill would require the board to adopt a rule or rules providing that an active licensee who can demonstrate total gross annual individual income from all sources of less than $60,478.35 presumptively qualifies for a waiver of 25% of the annual license fee.
(7) Existing law requires the State Bar to provide offers of discounts and other benefits to active and inactive licensees of the State Bar, including insurance and affinity programs. Existing law requires revenue received from the affinity programs to support the programs of the California State Bar Foundation. Existing law authorizes the State Bar, if approved by the board and the California Bar Foundation, to transfer administration of those programs offering discounts and other benefits to active and inactive licensees to the California Bar Foundation, subject to specified distributions of the revenue received from those programs, as provided.
This bill would provide that the State Bar was authorized to provide non-insurance noninsurance affinity programs until December 31, 2018, and has been authorized to provide insurance affinity programs only, after December 31, 2018. The bill would make other related changes, including revising the expiration date of provisions relating to the distribution of revenues from those programs from December 31, 2018, to December 31, 2019. The bill, until December 31, 2019, would authorize the State Bar to transfer administration of these programs to Cal Bar Affinity, subject to specified approval. The bill would provide that, if approved by the California Lawyers Association, California ChangeLawyers, and Cal Bar Affinity, all revenue received from the insurance affinity programs, less the administrative costs of and taxes incurred by Cal Bar Affinity in operating the programs, is required to be distributed in a specified manner. The bill would authorize the State Bar to collect voluntary donations on behalf of and for the purposes of funding California ChangeLawyers, which promotes a better justice system for all Californians.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 It is the intent of the Legislature that the State Bar of California use license fees for active and inactive licensees in a manner that is consistent with the California State Auditor’s Report released on April 30, 2019.

SECTION 1.SEC. 2.

 Section 6013.1 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6013.1.
 (a) The Supreme Court shall appoint five attorney members of the board pursuant to a process that the Supreme Court may prescribe. These attorney members shall serve for a term of four years and may be reappointed by the Supreme Court for one additional term only. The term of office of all attorney members appointed by the Supreme Court shall commence at the conclusion of the final meeting of the outgoing board in September following their appointment.
(b) An attorney member elected pursuant to Section 6013.2 may be appointed by the Supreme Court pursuant to this section to a term as an appointed attorney member.
(c) The Supreme Court shall fill any vacancy in the term of, and make any reappointment of, any appointed attorney member.
(d) When making appointments to the board, the Supreme Court should consider appointing attorneys that represent the following categories: legal services; small firm or solo practitioners; historically underrepresented groups, including consideration of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation; and legal academics. In making appointments to the board, the Supreme Court should also consider geographic distribution, years of practice, particularly attorneys who are within the first five years of practice or 36 years of age and under, and participation in voluntary local or state bar activities.
(e) The State Bar shall be responsible for carrying out the administrative responsibilities related to the appointment process described in subdivision (a).

SEC. 2.Section 6013.3 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:
6013.3.

(a)One attorney member of the board shall be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules and one attorney member of the board shall be appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.

(b)An attorney member appointed pursuant to this section shall serve for a term of four years. An appointed attorney member may be reappointed pursuant to this section. The term of office of all attorney members appointed pursuant to this section shall commence at the conclusion of the final meeting of the outgoing board in September following their appointment. Members appointed to fill vacancies may serve as soon as appointed and sworn into office without changing the term of office for their position.

SEC. 3.Section 6013.5 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:
6013.5.

(a)Effective January 1, 2018, a maximum of six members of the board shall be members of the public who have never been licensees of the State Bar or admitted to practice before any court in the United States.

(b)Each of these members shall serve for a term of four years. The term of office of public members appointed pursuant to this section shall commence at the conclusion of the final meeting of the outgoing board in September following their appointment. Members appointed to fill vacancies may serve as soon as appointed and sworn into office without changing the term of office for their position.

(c)Effective January 1, 2018, one public member shall be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules and one public member shall be appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.

(d)Four public members shall be appointed by the Governor, subject to the confirmation of the Senate.

(e)Each respective appointing authority shall fill any vacancy in and make any reappointment to each respective office.

SEC. 4.Section 6016 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:
6016.

The term of office of each attorney member of the board shall be four years and shall commence at the conclusion of the final meeting of the outgoing board in September following their appointment. Members appointed to fill vacancies may serve as soon as appointed and sworn into office without changing the term of office for their position.

The board of trustees may provide by rule for an interim board to act in the place and stead of the board when because of vacancies during terms of office there is less than a quorum of the board.

SEC. 5.SEC. 3.

 Section 6022 of the Business and Professions Code is repealed.

SEC. 6.SEC. 4.

 Section 6025 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6025.
 Subject to the laws of this State, state, the board may formulate and declare rules and regulations necessary or expedient for the carrying out of this chapter.

SEC. 7.SEC. 5.

 Section 6026 of the Business and Professions Code is repealed.

SEC. 8.SEC. 6.

 Section 6032.1 is added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:

6032.1.
 Notwithstanding any other law, the State Bar is expressly authorized to collect, in conjunction with the State Bar’s collection of its annual license fees, voluntary donations on behalf of and for the purpose of funding California ChangeLawyers, which promotes a better justice system for all Californians.

SEC. 9.SEC. 7.

 Section 6052 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6052.
 The State Bar Court or the chief trial counsel counsel, or their designee designee, may administer oaths and issue any subpoena pursuant to Section 6049.
Depositions may be taken and used as provided in the rules of procedure adopted by the board pursuant to this chapter.

SEC. 10.SEC. 8.

 Section 6076.5 of the Business and Professions Code is repealed.

SEC. 11.SEC. 9.

 Section 6077 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6077.
 The rules of professional conduct adopted by the board, when approved by the Supreme Court, are binding upon all licensees of the State Bar.
For a willful breach of any of these rules, the State Bar Court has power to discipline attorneys by reproval, public or private, or to recommend to the Supreme Court the suspension from practice for a period not exceeding three years of licensees of the State Bar.

SEC. 12.SEC. 10.

 Section 6140 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6140.
 (a) The board shall fix the annual license fee for active licensees for 2020 at a sum not exceeding $____. four hundred sixty dollars ($460).
(b) The annual license fee for active licensees is payable on or before the first day of February of each year. If the board finds it appropriate and feasible, it may provide by rule for payment of fees on an installment basis with interest, by credit card, or other means, and may charge licensees choosing any alternative method of payment an additional fee to defray costs incurred by that election.
(c) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2021, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 11.

 Section 6141 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6141.
 (a) Until December 31, 2006, the board shall fix the annual license fee for inactive licensees at a sum not exceeding sixty-five dollars ($65). On January 1, 2007, 2020, and thereafter, the board shall fix the annual license fee for inactive licensees at a sum not exceeding seventy-five one hundred nine dollars ($75). ($109). The annual license fee for inactive licensees is payable on or before the first day of February of each year.
(b) An inactive licensee shall not be required to pay the annual license fee for inactive licensees for any calendar year following the calendar year in which the licensee attains the age of 70 years. 70 years of age.

SEC. 13.SEC. 12.

 Section 6141.1 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6141.1.
 (a) The payment by any licensee of the annual license fee, any portion thereof, or any penalty thereon, may be waived by the board as it may provide by rule. The board may require submission of recent federal and state income tax returns and other proof of financial condition as to those licensees seeking waiver of all or a portion of their fee or penalties on the ground of financial hardship.
(b) The board shall adopt a rule or rules providing that an active licensee who can demonstrate total gross annual individual income from all sources of less than sixty thousand four hundred and seventy-eight dollars and thirty-five cents ($60,478.35), which is reflective of the previous limit adjusted for 20 years of inflation pursuant to the Consumer Price Index, shall presumptively qualify for a waiver of 25 percent of the annual license fee.

SEC. 14.SEC. 13.

 Section 6141.3 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6141.3.
 (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), the State Bar shall provide offers of discounts and other benefits to active and inactive licensees of the State Bar, including, but not limited to, insurance and non-insurance noninsurance affinity programs, until December 31, 2018, and insurance affinity programs only, after December 31, 2018. Any revenue generated by these programs shall be used as follows:
(1) For all revenue received from January 1, 2018, until December 31, 2018, 50 percent of the revenue shall be used to assist the California Lawyers Association in transitioning to an independent entity, 25 percent of the revenue shall be distributed to qualified legal services projects and support centers as provided in Section 6216, and 25 percent shall be used to support the discipline functions of the State Bar or to support the Client Security Fund.
(2) For all revenue received on and after January 1, 2019, until December 31, 2019, 50 percent of the revenue shall be distributed to qualified legal services projects and support centers as provided in Section 6216, and 50 percent of the revenue shall be used to support the discipline functions of the State Bar or to support the Client Security Fund.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), if approved by the board of trustees, California ChangeLawyers, and Cal Bar Affinity, a subsidiary of California ChangeLawyers, the State Bar may transfer administration of the programs offering discounts and other benefits to active and inactive licensees of the State Bar under subdivision (a) to Cal Bar Affinity provided that any revenue received, less the administrative costs of, and taxes incurred by, Cal Bar Affinity in operating the programs, shall be distributed as follows from January 1, 2019, until December 31, 2019:
(1) All of the revenue received from the non-insurance noninsurance affinity programs shall be kept by California ChangeLawyers, which shall distribute 50 percent of that revenue to support the programs of California ChangeLawyers and 50 percent of that revenue to qualified legal services projects and support centers as provided in Section 6216.
(2) For all revenue received from the insurance affinity programs, 50 percent of the revenue shall be kept by California ChangeLawyers, which shall distribute 50 percent of that revenue to support the programs of California ChangeLawyers and 50 percent of that revenue to qualified legal services projects and support centers in accordance with the formula provided in Section 6216, and 50 percent of the revenue shall be used to support the discipline functions of the State Bar or to support the Client Security Fund.
(c) If approved by the California Lawyers Association, California ChangeLawyers, and Cal Bar Affinity, all revenue received from the insurance affinity programs, less the administrative costs of, and taxes incurred by, Cal Bar Affinity in operating the programs, shall be distributed as follows on and after January 1, 2020:
(1) Thirty-seven and one-half percent of the revenue shall go to California ChangeLawyers provided that 5 percent of that amount shall be used to fund joint legal fellowships from the California Lawyers Association or an affiliated nonprofit organization established under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (hereinafter referred to as an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization) and California ChangeLawyers to qualified legal services projects and support centers, as defined in subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 6213, located in rural areas of the state.
(2) Thirty-seven and one-half percent of the revenue shall go to the California Lawyers Association or an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization to support their respective diversity, equity and inclusion, access to justice, and civic engagement efforts, provided that 5 percent of that amount shall be used to fund joint legal fellowships from the California Lawyers Association or an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization and California ChangeLawyers to qualified legal services projects and support centers, as defined in subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 6213, located in rural areas of the state.
(3) Twenty-five percent of the revenue shall go to California ChangeLawyers, which shall distribute that revenue to qualified legal services projects and support centers in accordance with the formula provided in Section 6216.
(d) Given the public protection mission of the State Bar, the Legislature finds that it would be inappropriate for the State Bar to administer the program on a long-term basis. Therefore, should the program continue to operate after December 31, 2018, it is the intent of the Legislature that the program be administered by an entity other than the State Bar.

SEC. 15.SEC. 14.

 Section 6230 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:

6230.
 It is the intent of the Legislature that the State Bar of California seek ways and means to identify and rehabilitate attorneys with impairment due to substance use or a mental health disorder affecting competency so that attorneys so afflicted may be treated and returned to the practice of law in a manner that will not endanger the public health and safety.