Capitol Alert

This law would affect just two people in California, including its author

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa
Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa The Associated Press

A California lawmaker is carrying a measure this session that directly affects only two people: himself and Rep. Brad Sherman.

Senate Bill 1159 would allow sitting legislators and congressmen who hold inactive licenses as certified public accountants to continue using the title.

In California, someone whose active status has lapsed because they did not fulfill continuing education requirements must include the term "inactive" or "retired" immediately after their CPA designation. Sen. John Moorlach, a Costa Mesa Republican and inactive CPA, said that's too complicated.

"Neither Brad or I put the CPA behind the names because it's really difficult to explain to people what the retired means or the inactive means," he said.

He compared the proposed change to a California business and professions code that allows state elected officials, state employees and law school professors to maintain their active membership in the State Bar without completing continuing legal education.

Moorlach said the CPA designation is "not a big deal to me" and he is not sure whether he go back to including it after his name even if SB 1159 becomes law. The bill passed the Senate last month and is now in the Assembly.

He said he took up the issue after being approached by Sherman, a Los Angeles Democrat. They went to the California Board of Accountancy, Moorlach said, who recommended they address their concerns through legislation.

In a statement, Sherman said he wanted to "use the letters 'CPA' to give credibility to my comments on budgetary and tax matters," the way colleagues like Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas are able to.

"I believe my views and analysis of budget and tax issues are at least as credible as Ms. Jenkins and other CPA members of Congress from other states," Sherman said.

For nearly two decades, Sherman has referred to himself as a CPA in his ballot title – though in the upcoming June primary, he is listed for the first time as just a congressman.

"This bill is of modest importance," he said. "I would like to put CPA on my Congressional letterhead and this bill would clarify my right to do so."

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