Monday, September 26, 2005
Governor Signs Bill Setting State Bar Dues for Next Two Years
Measure Raises Active Dues by $5 Each Year; Inactive Dues Will More Than Double
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed the State Bar’s dues bill for 2006 and 2007.
The dues bill is among 98 measures that the governor approved on Thursday, one of the busiest days of his administration. He also vetoed 23 bills.
The dues bill, AB 1529, by Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, had passed the Senate by a vote of 35-11 and the Assembly by a 49-25 count.
The bill had unanimous support among Democrats and picked up a number of Republican votes as well, including those of Sen. Charles Poochigian of Fresno, the party’s expected candidate for attorney general, and Sen. Dick Ackerman, R-Tustin, the minority leader.
It was co-authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Dunn, D-Garden Grove, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, and Assembly Judiciary Committee Vice-Chair Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach. State Bar officials said this was the first time in recent history that a dues bill has been co-authored by a Republican.
AB 1529 will fund the State Bar for the next two years by authorizing increases in the dues for active members in 2006 by $5, to a total of $395. In 2007, the authorized dues would increase to $400.
The dues for inactive members, which have not been raised since their inception almost 20 years ago, are set to increase to $115 in 2006 and $125 in 2007. The State Bar argued that the increase would more accurately reflect the services, benefits, and regulatory obligations of inactive attorneys, and avoid larger increases in dues for active members.
Current dues for inactive members are $50.
The bill also changes the scaling rules, requiring members with income of more than $40,000 annually from all sources to pay the full amount of dues even if none of that income was derived from the practice of law.
The State Bar argued that this will restore the original intent of the Legislature by limiting scaling to “truly needy lower-income attorneys.”
AB 1529 also aids the Client Security Fund, with $5 of the active dues increase and $10 of the inactive increase going to that purpose.
The governor also signed SB 894, a State Bar-backed bill seeking to deter the unauthorized practice of law.
The bill, which won unanimous approval, would allow a court to assume jurisdiction over the practice of an unlicensed attorney in order to protect clients, appointing an attorney to administer the practice if necessary.
The new civil remedy would be in addition to the criminal penalties and contempt sanctions authorized by current law.
SB 894 also contains a provision, sponsored by the State Bar, to permit attorneys with psychological or substance abuse problems, who have been placed on inactive status with the State Bar while they successfully complete required activities through the Lawyer Assistance Program, to be credited for the time on inactive status towards any period of actual suspension imposed by the Supreme Court.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company