Gov. Brown signs bill to tighten oversight of builders after Berkeley balcony collapse

File photo -- California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the nation's toughest net neutrality measure that requires internet providers to maintain a level playing field online. 

SACRAMENTO (KTVU) -- California is moving to study state balcony standards after a fatal collapse in Berkeley sent shock and horror across the globe last year. 

The new law, which takes effect January 1, is aimed at closing the gaps of information revealed by the tragedy on June 16, 2015, that killed Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park, her cousin, Olivia Burke, 21, of Ireland, and four of their friends. Seven other students from Ireland, including Aoife Beary who had been celebrating her 21st birthday, were hospitalized for weeks after the balcony gave way and sent them plummeting five stories to the ground.

The firm that built the apartment complex had a history of questionable work and construction defect settlements that amounted to $26.5 million.

But the agency that licenses and regulates California’s construction industry was not aware of the company’s track record, and had neither the mechanisms nor requirements to collect such information, Brown's office said. Also, unlike other licensed professionals, such as doctors, architects and engineers, licensed contractors aren’t required to report such settlements. 

“The new law provides the Contractors State License Board with the tools to take action against bad actors in the construction industry,” said Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “My colleagues in the Legislature and I are deeply grateful to Jackie Donohoe, Ashley’s mother, and Aoife Beary and her mother, Angela, for their testimony on behalf of SB 465 and their courage in sharing how their families’ and friends’ lives have been forever changed by a preventable construction failure.”