TBPLS no more
again Shawn, i'm in total agreement. only thing that might vary due to our different circumstances: as somebody who's spent more than my share of time inside the hallways, offices, and payrolls of engineering/development firms in austin is that i can't count the number of times i've heard "it's just shooting a few points, how come we can't get it tomorrow/after lunch/for free/just tell me where you keep the gear and i'll go do it myself."
that attitude- which is very real and very pervasive among the "i had to take a surveying class at UT/A&M/Tech when i got my engineering degree" crowd- coupled with the fact that, as licensed surveyors, those of us who theoretically will be at it for a couple more decades stand to see a fairly substantial uptick in the demand for our services. the resultant fee schedules are going to be pretty enticing for those guys who got a few required credit hours back in their younger days...
Posted by: Shawn Billings
Personally I don't see too many engineers wanting to do what we do. As Norman points out, many States already have combined PE/RPLS boards. It is a far better outcome than being put under the general board of licensure.
None of the 3 states I am licensed in allows engineers to survey boundaries on the basis of their Engineering licenses. In Oregon they once could, but it was sunsetted beginning in the mid '70s, and so far as I know nobody has proposed bringing it back. Engineers can test for a survey license, and often do. Enough fail that testing to make a great case for why Engineers should not just be awarded a survey license.
The general mood in government these days is less regulation and less spending to regulate. I will keep my opinions on that to myself. It's just a statement about the way it is.
I seriously doubt Texas has some nefarious group of engineers plotting the takeover of surveying. I've worked in over a dozen states, most of which have a combined board. The engineers have shed survey functions in nearly all of them. None have had a serious move to license PEs as LSs for several decades.
They will keep charging the same fees and provide less service. I have a complaint that has been under investigation since 2015 and still no resolution. The guy is still surveying. I doubt a merged board is going to be more effective. The State should have let the TBPLS to keep more of its money to hire a full-time investigator instead of milking it for revenue for the general fund.
Our state has a combined board - Architects, Engineers, Land Surveyors, Landscape Architects, and the Public. There are 11 members. Initially I thought this was not a good idea. In fact, it seems to work really well. The regulations that come out of the Board are considered from the perspective of other design professionals.
In the case of Alaska, the combined board works very well - but I'd be leery of bringing too many groups to the Board - Board members have to learn about the issues of other professions with enough depth to contribute meaningfully to the discussion. Too many professions would make this nearly impossible, meetings would last forever, and very little would get accomplished.
Some Combined Board Benefits:
1. Better discussion - You have to make a case that's valid from the perspective of multiple professions: It's one thing for a surveyor to have to convince other surveyors that some reg is good for the public vs. convincing other design professionals. It's impressive what the Engineers, Architects, and Landscape Architects have supported when they've had the chance to listen to and question the Land Surveyors on the Board.
2. More clout - Politicians and building officials generally respect the decisions of a Board more if that board is comprised of multiple professions - the regs aren't just good for the surveyors: surveyors and engineers and ... think the reg a good idea.
3. Even more clout - the Board represents many more registrants (I'd guess it's at least 5x - someone from Texas probably knows the number). More constituents = stronger voice.
4. Better public notice - all Board constituents are notified of the changes - this improves the chances that registrants are aware of all reg changes will be recognized and followed.
5. More professional acceptance - There are representatives from key design professions that have in-depth knowledge of why reg changes come about - these are the Board members who are typically well connected in the design community - when the engineers here about why a reg doesn't allow them to perform surveys the initial reaction used to be "protectionism". But when an engineer from the Board explains that they don't have education, experience, or testing on the topics required to do some professional activity then other engineers listen a little closer - this is a fellow engineer advocating the surveyors position (I've seen civil engineers tell other engineers that it's just not worth using GPS - get someone who is competent with geodesy, projections, coordinate systems, etc. and avoid the headache and potential liability.) This has also been important in getting the word out to GIS only folks who are practicing land surveying - many of them are working for engineers.
6. Perceived as less biased -The regs and decisions of the Board don't smell protectionist because they are approved by representatives from multiple professions.
At the end of the day, I believe the combined board puts out better vetted regs which are more readily accepted because of the diversity on the Board.
This should be viewed as a great opportunity - it make take a few generations of Board members to yield real cooperation and benefits, but if everyone has the right attitude - protect the public - then it'll work.