MAPPS Opposes AB 586 and SB 444 in Wisconsin

MAPPS has sent a letter to members of a Wisconsin State Senate committee in opposition to AB 586 and SB 444.

This legislation makes significant changes to the definition of services that can only be performed by licensed land surveyors. It would adversely affect mapping professionals who currently perform services not related to boundary services. Inasmuch as the bill does not follow the NCEES model law and does not have a grandfather clause, it would legislate out of business highly qualified, competent and experienced mapping professionals. This includes our member firms in Wisconsin. Specifically, section 93 would add construction surveying which includes any mapping in support of infrastructure design or the establishing of construction documentation (planimetric mapping), and section 95 would add geodetic surveying which includes mapping the size or shape of the earth or the precise location of points on the earth’s surface (control surveys). While AB 586 and SB 444 do not specifically mention photogrammetry, these services would be affected nd adversely impacted.

MAPPS made its views known to the organizations supporting this bill when similar legislation was not approved in the last legislative session. We provided those organizations specific proposals to correct the bill in October of 2011, but they were not included in the current version.

The NCEES Model Law was carefully developed after an extensive process that included a nationwide group of stakeholders, such as engineers, surveyors, photogrammetrists, GIS practitioners, and state licensing board members. The Model Law includes a grandfather or "savings” clause to permit a window during which currently practicing photogrammetrists can become licensed as surveyors, limited to their area of competence and expertise – by demonstrating qualifications and experience in the specialty area of photogrammetry, but not tying it to experience, examination or education specific to traditional land surveying.

Recently, the State Legislature in the State of Oregon and the Commonwealth of Virginia included licensing of photogrammetrists in its definition of surveying. Those legislatures included such a savings clause or grandfather provision. In addition, all geospatial stakeholders in Oregon and Virginia came together to insure that the resulting legislation did not inadvertently harm the increasingly important applications of these technologies. Similar processes have been included by the other state legislatures that have recently enacted legislation affecting photogrammetry in their Land Surveyors Act, including North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Such an inclusive process was not followed in Wisconsin.

The MAPPS Board of Directors has adopted a principle stating "any state licensing program for individual practitioners in photogrammetry and other geospatial disciplines must include a "savings” or "grandfather” provision that permits qualified, experienced professionals to continue to practice without disruption in service.” Inasmuch as AB 586 and SB 444 violate MAPPS Board-adopted policy, MAPPS opposes these bills in their present form.