Anyone who has been around government long enough knows it’s never too late to start enforcing an old law. California did just that last year when it passed legislation granting enforcement authority to the state’s Contractors State License Board (CSLB) over certification requirements that first went into effect more than four years earlier.

The state’s Labor Code Section 3099.2 requires that any person who performs work as an electrician for a contractor who possesses a Class 10 electrical contractor’s license must be properly certified by the Department of Industrial Relations/Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS). That requirement went into effect in January 2006.

At the time, the enacting legislation did not specify any enforcement authority. In order to add proverbial teeth to the law, the California Legislature more recently passed legislation giving that authority to the CSLB. Now, any C-10 licensed electrical contractor who employs one or more uncertified people in violation of the Labor Code Section 3099.2 may be disciplined.

This amendment went into effect mid-summer. According to the provisions of the amendment, the DAS will refer any complaints to the CSLB for an investigation. The CSLB reports that it has so far issued warning letters for the first group of 13 referrals since those violations took place prior to the July 1 start date. Eleven additional referrals are currently under investigation.

The law and its amendments were designed to raise professional standards for electricians, improve safety for installers and clients, and reduce liabilities for contractors. Like almost any policy that causes meaningful change, it has its supporters and detractors, who argue over the costs it will incur, the certification process itself, and who wields the greatest influence over its administration.