(a) There is created a board of public accountancy in and for the State of Alabama, to be known as the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy. The board shall consist of seven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Members of the board shall be citizens of the United States and residents of the state. The membership of the board shall be inclusive and reflect the racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic diversity of the state. Commencing October 1, 2019, six members of the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy shall be certified public accountants in good standing with the board and one member of the board shall be a public member who is not under the jurisdiction of the board, but shall at the time of his or her appointment be an active and reputable member of the Alabama business community who possesses a knowledge and understanding of financial transactions and financial statements. The persons and their successors shall constitute the Board of Public Accountancy and shall have and exercise all the powers and authority vested by law in the board.
(b) All appointments shall be effective on October 1 for four-year terms, unless an appointment is made for an unexpired term.
(c) The Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants shall, at least 30 days prior to the beginning of any term or within 30 days after any position on the board becomes vacant, submit to the Governor the names of five persons qualified for membership on the board for the certified public accountant position and public member position to be filled, and the Governor shall appoint one of the five nominees. Upon the failure of the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants to submit timely nominations for a position on the Board of Public Accountancy, the Board of Public Accountancy may submit nominations for the position to the Governor, who shall appoint one of the five nominees.
(d) No person who has served two successive complete terms on the board shall be eligible for reappointment until after the lapse of one year. An appointment to fill an unexpired term shall not be considered a complete term. Vacancies occurring during a term shall be filled by appointment for the unexpired term. Upon the expiration of his or her term of office, a member shall continue to serve until his or her successor is appointed and confirmed by the Senate. Within 15 days after their confirmation by the Senate, the members of the board shall take an oath before any person lawfully authorized to administer oaths in this state to faithfully and impartially perform their duties as members of the board, and the same shall be filed with the Secretary of State. The Governor shall remove from the board any accountant-member whose permit to practice has become void, has been revoked, or suspended, or may, after a hearing, remove any member of the board for neglect of duty or just cause.
(e) The board annually shall elect a chair, a vice-chair, and a secretary from its members.
(f) The board may adopt and amend rules pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act for the orderly conduct of its affairs and for the administration of this chapter.
(g) A majority of the board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
(h) The board shall have a seal which shall be judicially noticed.
(i) The board shall keep records of its proceedings and of any proceeding in court, civil or criminal, arising out of or founded upon this chapter. Copies of the records certified as correct under the seal of the board shall be admissible in evidence to prove the content of the records.
(j) The board shall maintain an annual register which shall contain the names, arranged alphabetically by classification, of all licensees under this chapter; the names of the members of the board; and all other information deemed proper by the board. The board may charge a fee in an amount set by it for furnishing the annual register to persons who request it.
(k) The board shall employ an executive director who is a certified public accountant in good standing with the board and such other personnel as may be needed, including, but not limited to, certified public accountants in good standing with the board, and shall arrange for such assistance, services, supplies, and equipment as it requires for the performance of its duties. The number of employees, their compensation, and all other expenses of the board shall be paid at such rates and in such amounts as the board shall approve. The executive director and other employees of the board shall not be subject to or governed by the state Merit System law but shall be entitled to all benefits accruing to Merit System employees including, but not limited to, the right to accumulate leave, participate in the Employees' Retirement System, and participate in the State Employees' Health Insurance Plan.
(l) The board may adopt and amend rules of professional conduct appropriate to establish and maintain a high standard of integrity in the profession of public accountancy. At least 60 days prior to the adoption of any rule or amendment, the board shall mail copies of the proposed rule or amendment to each holder of a permit issued under Section 34-1-11, with a notice advising him or her of the proposed effective date of the rule or amendment and requesting that he or she submit comments thereon at least 15 days prior to the effective date; the comments shall be advisory only. Failure to receive by mail the rule, amendment, or notice by all permit holders shall not affect the validity of any rule or amendment.
(m) Each member of the board shall be paid the same per diem and travel allowance paid to state employees for each day the member is actively engaged in the official business of the board out of the funds of the board.
(n) Any records, information, or writings obtained or kept by the Board of Public Accountancy in connection with a peer review program which the board is authorized to establish by rule, or obtained or kept by the board in connection with a disciplinary investigation shall be held in confidence. If, pursuant to a disciplinary investigation, probable cause for a hearing is found by the board, records, information, or writings upon which the finding is based shall be available to the licensee under investigation. Records, information, and writings held in confidence shall not be disclosed to any person except to the extent necessary to carry out the purposes of the peer review program, the investigation, or this chapter; pursuant to a court order for the production of evidence or the discovery thereof; or pursuant to litigation involving the Board of Public Accountancy wherein the records, information, or writings are relevant to the issue in litigation. Notwithstanding the foregoing, with respect to peer review programs deemed acceptable to the board which are performed by other organizations, the board shall require that the peer review processes be operated and documents maintained in a manner designed to preserve confidentiality, and that neither the board nor any third party, other than an oversight body, shall have access to documents furnished or generated in the course of the review.