Mandatory Continuing Education Bill (HB19-1040) Introduced in the 2019 Colorado Legislative Session
It's a cash cow for state level associations of surveyors who happen to hold annual conferences that provide CE credits. It also greatly increases attendance to said annual conferences. That being said I do get some enjoyment out of attending conferences, but mainly for the social aspect of catching up with all the other surveyors that I know. Also profitable for the online providers of CE credits. Too bad I can't log all of the hours I spend on my own time googling, researching, reading texts and searching online forums to improve my knowledge as a surveyor. I actually learn when I study on my own time.
I don't know that anybody is getting rich off of conventioneering on either side. If it weren't for CE requirements I would have never gone to even one, and if it weren't for conventions I would not know a lot of fellow surveyors. I can't say that every event is packed with new knowledge, but I have picked up a few gems over the years. Several guys I know prefer to get their PDH's in other ways.
"Convention is like the shell to the chick, a protection till he is strong enough to break it through." Learned Hand
Cash cow is right. Stick non-members for double or more the standard rate. Many of those wanting to learn don't qualify for membership.
Another situation that can crop up in states that have had CE for a long time are repetitive course topics. I was asked to give a talk in Pittsburg, KS as part of their annual fall conference (2007). While I was appreciative of the opportunity to meet Holy Cow (before his conversion, he was Hole Digger at the time), my topic was a 4-hour course on mineral surveys. The KSLS was looking for a mining related topic that would fit in with the mining history of southeastern Kansas, since it was the first time that the local chapter was sponsoring the conference. So, I put together a talk that discussed Colorado mineral surveys and underground surveying.
My thinking in preparing the course was that I was asked to present a novelty talk where there might be 20 or so attendees so keep it fun. When I got there, I found out that there were two speakers for the conference, Ron Scherler, whose topic was on a new training program called CFedS and me! Ron spoke all day Friday and Saturday morning I had over 100 bright-eyed attendees (obviously fully caffeinated) listening to me talk about finding stones on mountainsides.
Afterwords, Melany Pearce, the KSLS Executive Director at the time said that my course was well received, albeit not of any direct utility for a Kansas licensed surveyor other than the 4 hours of CE they received.
A couple of people have asked about why Colorado didn't implement a CE program in the past. I don't have a concise answer, but in my opinion both the Legislature and Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) have had reservations about the effectiveness of a mere continuing education mandate for license renewal.
DORA does not like continuing education because in their view there is no "meat" there. In other words CE alone is insufficient to maintain competency. All you have to do is show up and file away your certificate of attendance. With the architects they grudgingly settled on having the architect demonstrate that they retained the material.
As for the Legislature, when Republicans controlled one or both Houses, they generally railed against burdensome regulation whether it was deemed effective or not. When Democrats were in control, they wanted some proof that the CE would be effective. Mixed in with these philosophies was a statute originally enacted in 1981. It was repealed and reenacted in 1997. The statute is:
24-34-901. Proposed continuing education requirements for regulated occupations and professions - review by office of executive director)
(1) Before any bill is introduced in the general assembly that contains, or any bill is amended to contain, a mandatory continuing education requirement for any occupation or profession, the practice of which requires a state of Colorado license, certificate, or registration, the group or association proposing such mandatory continuing education requirement shall first submit information concerning the need for such a requirement to the office of the executive director of the department of regulatory agencies. The executive director shall impartially review such evidence, analyze and evaluate the proposal, and report in writing to the general assembly whether mandatory continuing education would likely protect the public served by the practitioners. Proposals may include, but need not be limited to: Information that shows that the knowledge base for the profession or occupation is changing; that mandatory continuing education of this profession or occupation is required in other states; if applicable, that any independent studies have shown that mandatory continuing education is effective in assuring the competency of practitioners. The proposal may also include any assessment tool that shows the effectiveness of mandatory continuing education and recommendations about sanctions that should be included for noncompliance with the requirement of mandatory continuing education. The provisions of this section shall not be applicable to:(a) Any profession or occupation that, as of July 1, 1991, has mandatory continuing education requirements in place;(b) Any bill that is introduced as a result of a legislative interim committee and that as introduced in the general assembly includes a mandatory continuing education requirement.(2) This section is exempt from the provisions of section 24-1-136 (11), and the periodic reporting requirement of this section shall remain in effect until changed by the general assembly acting by bill.
The Legislature in its wisdom determined that an impartial review of the proposed mandatory continuing education was necessary for them to make an informed decision. They also set the threshold for DORA in its evaluation that the MCE protect the public. In the first hearing last year, a committee member asked a DORA representative why so many other states had CE for land surveyors. The DORA rep quickly replied that the other states likely did not have legislation as forward thinking as Colorado.
ETA: I'm kinda partial to the DORA rep's quick retort, which brings up the question: Do other states with MCE for land surveyors have a statute similar to this?
I'd begin by expressing sincere gratitude and appreciation for everyone engaging the conversation and considering HB 1040. As a member of the PLSC Legislative Committee and an active advocate working in support of this bill, it warms my heart to see diverse opinions and reflections on its potential influence not only on the industry but on our up-and - coming leaders and champions of the Labor force (where my heart and motivations reside). I just wanted to 1) express that, 2) let you know the Committee is listening and thankful for each and every opinion, 3) to encourage all who practice in Colorado to join and contribute to tbe PLSC and its many efforts to improve and support Land Surveying, and 4) invite you to email me if you'd like a direct conduit to our efforts.
Any time, I'd be honored to connect. I'm new here (which is embarrassing) but I assume DMs are an option. If so, hit me up.
Bryan Douglass PLS
Jefferson County Surveyor
I have been involved in policy for almost 3 decades. While the circumstances there are beyond my knowledge base, the processes aren't.
Amending laws is risky business. Lawmakers tire of constant fiddling. After enough trips you find yourself on the wrong side of sunset or sunrise provisions where mistakes take 5 years just to point them out. It is also possible to ask for A and get C and D.
I've taken part in rulemaking in a number of States. None approached the level of effort of the easiest legislative process. It does require the professoon to pay attention and take part. Not a bad thing if you ask me.
I have no dog in your CE hunt, but I wish you all the best for the profession.
Good luck, Tom
CFedS, PLS ID-OR-WA-UT-NV
Hey dgregb, for what little my opinion is worth, I totally agree with this concern. And I'd share the Legislative Committee members I've spoken to have also pointed to this.
I will say this... with an admission we still need to do more work.
1) We, as in the PLSC, provided a $250k grant to Colorado Mesa University two years ago to fund a dedicated Land Surveying curriculum and program, starting at partner Western Colorado Community College. That fund is money from PLSC members, affiliate sponsors, and help from the NSPS. That's not a profit grab. That's us funding education where many of us want these CE credentials provided and fulfilled.
2) We are active in pursuit of other programs. I hesitate to share too much as these initiatives are somewhat sensitive and involve many people from a diverse group of disciplines, but I can assure you the PLSC is seeking, advocating, and collaborating in pursuit of partners for these educational needs that provide tangible, recognized value to students/labor.
3) Your Colorado Legislative sponsor, Representative Donald Valdez, would love to hear this. He's heard it already but in the world of legislative construction, they rely on data as we do. Each call/email = a larger number of State constituents that share the stated opinion. So PLEASE share this concern with him.
I'm certain we can insure this regulation will not only be supported by an educational system worthy of such demand and progressive curriculum, I'm also certain we can do it in ways that provide benefit to our comrades at all levels (without it being a burden on the wallet or the day job).
Outstanding and thorough, Gene. Top shelf.
I find discussions with architects suggest many of the fears posted here prove truly worthy of consern and attention NOW rather than later. I applaud the demand to push for substance (not only in standards but in ethics, purpose, and execution). Outstanding resources to do that... thank you.
Outstanding insights from Florida... tempting to suggest partisan "leadership" hijacking legislation and leveraging of such opportunities, but I'd just as quickly back away knowing such admissions of bias could distract (and anger). I'll say this: my work suggests such failures don't belong to law so much as those who helped (or didn't) get it in. It's incumbent on the people to hold governance accountable. That's my plan in Colorado.
I agree that legislation is a VERY blunt instrument and requires great care. That is why I fear the phrase, "board-approved continuing education sufficient to maintain competency." I believe it is a subjective process and the standard to be applied is ill conceived. I base that on what I described in another thread on continuing education. While I was the PLSC Executive Director I served on a licensing board rulemaking committee charged with promulgating rules for a new concept called "continuing professional competency" that the architects "signed up" as guinea pigs. That committee worked to establish rules for 18 months! In the end, the architects went back to the legislature and stripped 5 or 6 sections completely from the statute, leaving only a CE requirement.
So when I see the word "competency" in this CE bill I shudder at how the licensing board will interpret that. As a dissenting voice all I can do is point out the folly of that language and hope that my testimony before the legislative committee is sufficiently persuasive for them to "kill" the bill. My formal education is in geological engineering, and I was taught that the best solutions/designs happen when all the variables are evaluated at the same time.
I think similar logic is appropriate when making changes to our Practice Act. In other words, evaluate all the "variables" for licensure, ethical duties, minimum standards of practice, etc. together. In my opinion the place to consider imposing continuing education is during sunset review. Plucking out one component, staring at it, rolling it around on the ground for while, wrapping it in band-aid and plugging it back into the "whole" is slap-dash at best and more likely an unnecessary regulatory burden on the great majority of practitioners.
I have a great passion for this profession. I do not want to see my professional judgment stripped from me merely because others wish to impose CE as a regulatory mandate. A good friend and wise attorney (yes there are a few; he was first a licensed land surveyor) has a good definition for a professional. "A professional is someone that provides answers to questions without answers." If I were a betting man, I'd wager that the great majority of surveyors on this board also want to preserve their professional judgment wherever possible.
Y'all might consider providing for EXEMPTIONS:
ARKANSAS BOARD OF LICENSURE FOR PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS AND PROFESSIONAL SURVEYORS
RULES OF THE BOARD
ARTICLE 20. CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCY (CPC)
Section G. Exemptions. A licensee may be exempt from the professional development education requirements for one of the following reasons:
1. New licensees by way of examination or comity shall be exempt for their first renewal period;
2. A licensee serving on temporary active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, or out of the United States, for a period of time exceeding one hundred twenty (120) consecutive days in a year shall be exempt from obtaining professional development hours required during that year;
3. A licensee experiencing physical disability, illness, or other extenuating circumstances as reviewed and approved by the Board may be exempt. Supporting documentation must be furnished to the Board;
4. A licensee listed as “inactive” on the Board approved renewal form certifying that they are no longer receiving any remuneration from providing professional engineering or professional surveying services shall be exempt from the professional development hours required;
5. A Professional Surveyor may be exempt if sixty (60) years of age or older or has twenty (20) years of acceptable professional experience. This request must be submitted on forms supplied by the Board; and
6. A Professional Engineer may be exempt if sixty-five (65) years of age or older and has twenty-five (25) years of acceptable professional experience. This request must be submitted on forms supplied by the Board.
"Sudden fits of inadvertence will surprise vigilance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning." – Dr. Samuel Johnson
@bpdouglass I don't wish to banter with you regarding your post on Mesa State College, but I would like to add my perspective on that situation and where some of the monies came from. Back in 2010, the PLSC got legislation passed to strip the apprentice route for licensure. Effective July 1, 2020 all applicants must have a specific number of surveying courses to qualify to sit for the exam. That law was passed when the Metro State College (now MSU) program was dying. I am aware of this because I was the affiliate faculty member responsible for the distance learning courses, Route Surveying, Geodesy I, and Map Projections and Coordinate Systems.
I was very concerned with the impending demise of the Metro program that there would be no in-state program for young surveyors to get those mandated surveying courses. When I served as the PLSC Executive Director the PLSC's only real cash reserves were funds targeted solely for education, specifically scholarships. I served a portion of my time as a volunteer because there was so little money. After I left, the PLSC had a windfall when a past president willed a house to the PLSC. That plus some of the funds previously reserved for scholarships contributed to the start-up funds for the Mesa State College program and the salary of Tom Sylvester. I ended my volunteer work with the PLSC several years ago due to family health issues so I am not familiar with what has gone on recently.
I will add one more thing about continuing education in Colorado. In 2009, I organized a meeting between the DORA big wigs and the PLSC Board members to discuss the possibility of a CE requirement for surveyors. DORA stood firm that they would oppose anything short of the continuing professional competency standard that the architects rejected. The PLSC rejected that "offer" and quietly sat on their hands until last year when an identical bill to this year was pushed by the BOD and Legislative Committee.
If you plan to testify on Wednesday, I look forward to meeting you. I see that you are now my new county surveyor. I do very little work in Jefferson County (there are only a handful of mineral surveys in the county) so I probably won't ever have the need to discuss a survey issue with you.