Web exclusive: A look at the past year's legislation affecting the industry.

From the Capitol

Legislation Passed on E-signatures
Congress approved legislation in June for companies to supply customers with contracts, documents and information online rather than with paper. The U.S. House of Representatives approved a final version of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, or S. 761, by a vote of 426-4. In late June, the Senate conferenced the report and the President signed the bill, making it Public Law No. 106-229.

The bill has two requirements: electronic transactions must have the consumer's consent and companies must verify that consumers have the proper computer hardware and software to receive materials and access electronic records. Lawmakers did not discuss a more argumentative issue: whether or not consumer consent should be required for their records to be sent to them electronically.

The E-sign Act allows federal law to preempt state laws governing electronic signatures. The technology to allow for secure e-signatures is still being developed, including encrypted numeric coding devices and fingerprint or iris scans attached to computers that verify a person's identity.

The President said that some minimal ground rules for entering into contracts online are necessary. Third party companies, or “licensed certification authorities,” will exist to provide and verify the signature link between two or more parties. Consumers will still have the right to receive any documents on paper. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) has implemented the bill into their Model Law in a way that is specific to the surveying and mapping industry. Look for further details about the NCEES implementation in POB’s November issue under The Latest News.

Contract Bundling Disallowed

The SBA issued the final regulation that will provide a strong wall of protection against the contracting practice known as 'bundling.' Bundling occurs when procurement officials combine two or more contracts, often prohibiting small firms from competing. The final rule published in the Federal Register issue dated July 26, 2000, establishes the government's formal definition for what constitutes contract bundling. The rule also establishes the parameters for bundling and requires agencies to conduct an analysis, quantify and document benefits before proceeding with a bundled contract. Lastly, the rule provides clear guidelines for small businesses that want to create teams to go after bundled contracts that can't be broken down. Simultaneous to this SBA action, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council implemented its final procurement rule on contract bundling.

From the States

South Carolina Redefines State Licensure
The South Carolina Society of Professional Land Surveyors (SCSPLS) passed Bill 962, which contains a broadening definition of land surveying to include the disciplines of boundary surveying, photogrammetry, hydrography, geodesy and GIS. The SCSPLS Board of Directors voted to condense this five-tier license to a three-tier license at a meeting in early March. Hydrography, geodesy and boundary surveying are now subcategories of land surveying.

A proposal arose to mandate the attainment of a four-year degree with concentration in each area a surveyor practiced in order to perform those disciplines. This would greatly impact currently registered South Carolina surveyors requiring additional education. The GIS community pushed to require 36 hours in any combination of the disciplines. A decision was made to require a four-year bachelor’s of science degree in any curriculum including 12 hours of surveying experience and four years of experience in each discipline. The phase-in period for the new licensure practice would be 2010.

D.C. Licensing Law Changes
The District of Columbia enacted a new licensing law (12-261) for surveyors, mandating that the existing D.C. Board of Registration for Professional Engineers become the D.C. Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, licensing both professions. The Registration Board is authorized to add two land surveyors to its ranks who must be D.C. residents. The board shall promulgate regulations to bring about changes in the licensing of surveyors in D.C. Licensing will now be handled by the board and the licensing administration instead of the D.C. Surveyor’s Office.

There will be two exams per year, April and October, that will include the full NCEES National Fundamentals and Colonial State Exams, plus a D.C. Principles and Practices examination. A D.C. license will be required for all types of professional survey practice in the city, and it will be a violation to sign any survey of a D.C. property, recorded or otherwise, without one. The cost for license renewal rose from $12.50 to $110 per year. D.C. surveyors will be subject to disciplinary procedures, involving complaint processes charges, investigations, formal hearings and possible loss of license.

The law is expected to be enacted in 2002.

Maryland Extends Land Patents Law
Senate Bill 411, passed into law in May, expands the definition of “surveyor” to include a property line surveyor with respect to the application, review and issuance of land patents. It further authorizes the Commissioner of Land Patents to accept, under specified circumstances, a survey previously performed by a qualified property line surveyor in lieu of a survey performed under a warrant.

Idaho Passes Continuing Education Law
The law for Professional Development requirements was enacted July 1, 1999 for the Idaho Society of Professional Land Surveyors (ISPLS). Each license holder is required to earn 15 professional development hours (PDH) per year. Continuing education requirements may be met by:

  • Attending college courses
  • Completing correspondence courses
  • Observing television or video presentations
  • Attending in-house training courses or workshops
  • Serving as an instructor for any of the above
  • Publishing technical papers, articles or books
  • Membership in professional organizations
  • Active participation in professional organizations
  • Obtaining a patent for a device or process related to the profession
  • Presenting a technical program for technical, professional or civic groups
  • Independent study (reading trade journals and survey related textbooks)

Continue to visit Industry News at POB Online for further updates on federal and state legislative initiatives.