By Connor Greth
AB 298 (Irwin), as introduced on January 25, 2021, is a bill sponsored by the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) that would amend sections 5007, 5070, and 5070.5 of, and add sections 5009.5 and 5093.5 to the Business and Professions Code to implement the Board’s legislative proposals for 2021. The bill is substantially similar to AB 2267 (Irwin), which CBA sponsored in the 2020 legislative session but did not pass due to the Coronavirus pandemic’s effects on non-essential legislation. [25:2 CRLR 81–82]
The proposed amendment to section 5007 would allow the Board’s secretary-treasurer to preside at Board meetings in the absence of the vice president and president and would permit the president to designate a board member to preside at a meeting in which the secretary-treasurer is also absent. According to a memo staff presented to the Board at its January 14, 2021 meeting (Item II.I), this amendment would authorize CBA to conduct its business in the unlikely event that the officers are unable to attend a meeting, unable to act, or have to recuse themselves from a particular agenda item.
The bill would also add section 5009.5 to clarify that CBA applicant and licensee email addresses are confidential and not considered to be a public record subject to disclosure pursuant to a California Public Records Act request or posted on the internet pursuant to section 27 of the Business and Professions Code unless required by a court order.
Finally, new section 5093.5 would allow admission of applicants to the CPA exam prior to degree conferral under specified conditions and would require CBA to adopt regulations specifying the timeframe in which an applicant must complete their education. According to the staff memo, this proposal arises out of the Board’s observation that existing law, which requires applicants to produce an official transcript demonstrating a bachelor’s degree conferral (which can take several weeks), combined with the additional 30-day timeframe for CBA to review and authorize qualified applicants to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam, can result in applicants often having to wait three months or longer before taking the exam, thereby delaying their entry into the CPA profession. The proposed language would streamline the process for applicants to complete the Uniform CPA Exam.
On February 12, 2021, AB 298 was referred to the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions. At this writing, a hearing has not yet been set.