Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
Chapter 112 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 87A 1/2, as appearing in the 2002 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
Section 87A 1/2. (a) The board shall have the power to sue and be sued in its official name as an agency of the commonwealth; to issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents; to administer oaths; to take testimony and to receive evidence concerning all matters within its jurisdiction. In case of disobedience of a subpoena, the board may invoke the aid of any court of the commonwealth in requiring the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documentary evidence. The board, its members and its agents, shall be immune from personal liability for actions taken in good faith in the discharge of the board's responsibilities, and the commonwealth shall hold the board, its members and its agents, harmless from all costs, damages and attorneys' fees arising from claims and suits against them with respect to matters to which such immunity applies.
(b) The board may adopt such rules as it deems necessary, which shall include, but not be limited to:
(1) rules governing the board's meetings and the conduct of its business;
(2) rules of procedure governing the conduct of investigations and hearings by the board;
(3) rules specifying the educational and experience qualifications for the issuance of certificates under this section, and the continuing professional education required for renewal of licenses under paragraph (e) of section 87B;
(4) rules of professional conduct directed to controlling the quality and probity of the practice of public accountancy by license holders and dealing, among other things, with independence, integrity and objectivity; competence and technical standards; responsibilities to the public; and responsibilities to clients; and
(5) rules regarding quality reviews that may be required to be performed under this chapter.
(c) At least 60 days before the proposed effective date of any rule or amendment thereto or any other provision of this section or sections 87A 3/4 to 87E, inclusive, the board shall publish notice of the proposed action and of the public hearing to be held, not more than 30 days before such effective date, in accordance with chapter 30A.
(d) The board shall grant the certificate of certified public accountant to any person who meets the requirements of good character, education, experience and examination and who pays the fees established by the commissioner of administration. For the purposes of this section, "good character" shall mean a lack of a history of dishonest or felonious acts. The board may refuse to grant a certificate on the grounds of failure to satisfy this requirement only if there is a substantial connection between the lack of good character of the applicant and the professional responsibilities of a licensee and if the finding of the board of lack of good character is supported by clear and convincing evidence. When an applicant is found to be unqualified for a certificate because of lack of good character, the board shall furnish the applicant with a statement containing the findings of the board, a complete record of the evidence upon which the determination was based and a notice of the applicant's right of appeal.
(e) The educational requirement for a certificate shall be at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a college or university approved by the board, including an accounting concentration or its equivalent as determined by the board. The educational requirement shall consist of a minimum of 150 semester hours of course work or its equivalent earned as part of, either or both a bachelor's degree or master's degree program which includes courses in accounting education, business administration and general education. The educational requirements to take the examination required to be passed as a condition for the granting of a certificate shall be set forth in regulations promulgated by the board.
(f) The experience requirement for a certificate shall be determined by the board in its discretion.
(g) The examination required to be passed as a condition for the granting of a certificate shall be administered in a manner to be specified by the board by rule. The examination shall test the applicant's knowledge on subjects to be determined by the board by rule. An applicant who is a member of the bar shall not be required to take an examination in business law but in order to be excused from the business law portion of the examination, an applicant shall present a certificate from the clerk of the supreme judicial court attesting to the fact that the applicant is a member of the bar in good standing. The time for holding any such examination shall be fixed by the board and may be changed as necessary. The board shall prescribe by rule the methods of applying for and conducting the examination, including methods for grading and determining a passing grade, entitling an applicant to a certificate and the provision of credit for passage of parts of the examination. The board shall, to the extent possible, insure that the grading of the examination and the passing grades are uniform with those applicable in all other states. The board may make such use of all or any part of the uniform certified public accountant examination and the advisory grading service of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and may contract with third parties to perform such administrative services with respect to the examination, as it deems appropriate to assist it in performing its duties hereunder.
(h) The board may charge, or provide for a third party administering the examination to charge, each applicant a fee for each part of the examination or reexamination taken by the applicant.