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News & Press: ISPLS

Legislative Update - Final Report

Tuesday, May 5, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Evan Hoffmeyer, Senior Communications Coordinator
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The Indiana General Assembly’s 2020 Legislative Session was quickly overshadowed by the COVID-19 global pandemic as lawmakers and Governor Eric Holcomb’s administration pivoted to minimize the state-level impact.

 

Now that the state is getting ready to reopen for business, we want to look back at what impact the session had on the surveying profession.

 

Out of the ten surveying-related bills lawmakers considered this year, four passed and were signed into law. The most important headlines for surveyors, though, arguably came from bills that didn’t pass.

 

HB 1008 would have allowed licensed professionals from other states who move to Indiana to get licensed here so long as they could prove they had passed a similar licensing procedure in their home state.

 

“ISPLS opposed surveyors being included under this bill and they were, in fact, exempted,” said Gary Kent, chair of the ISPLS Government Affairs Committee. He said that while the bill would have allowed the Board of Registration leeway to say an applicant’s original license wasn’t “substantially equivalent” to Indiana’s, those decisions could have been overruled.

 

“The result would have been that a professional surveyor from, say, Massachusetts, would have to be granted a license in Indiana without proving any competence or knowledge in the U.S. Public Land Survey System or Indiana laws and regulations,” Kent added. “We believe having unqualified surveyors performing boundary surveys in Indiana would most certainly not be in the best interests of the public.”

 

For the second year in a row, an ISPLS initiative to close a court-created loophole failed to get final approval.

 

Results of a legal survey can be overturned by a neighbor’s adverse possession claim even if that neighbor never appealed the results of the survey per the statute. SB 71 would have required that if a neighbor is affected by a legal survey and they believe they have a valid adverse possession claim, they must file an affidavit of adverse possession or otherwise make their claim known before the statute runs out (90 days for in-county owners; 1 year for out-of-county owners). If no affidavit has been filed in that time, the lines would become binding on all owners.

 

The bill, written by practicing land surveyor and ISPLS member State Sen. Blake Doriot, R-Elkhart, passed the Senate 49-1, but then didn’t even make it out of committee in the House.

 

“There may be one more effort to address this issue in the 2021 Session, and possibly an initiative to address the destruction or moving of survey monuments,” according to Kent. “That is an issue that has likely been a problem for every single surveyor in the state at one time or another.”

 

Among the bills that did pass, Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 427 provides that the Board of Registration is now allowed to issue 365-day provisional licenses to spouses of active duty military members who are transferred to Indiana, providing they meet certain criteria.

 

County surveyors in particular will be interested in SEA 229, which Doriot also wrote and was supported by the County Surveyors Association of Indiana. It says a permit is no longer required from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for the reconstruction or maintenance of regulated drains for purposes of the law concerning state-regulated wetlands.

 

Also of interest for county surveyors is SEA 20, which provides that for the purposes of the advisory planning law, a county surveyor’s designee must be a resident of the county to serve on the county plan commission, regardless of if they are a permanent designee or only filling a vacancy or serving as an alternate.

 

SEA 100 doesn’t have much of a direct impact on surveyors, but those who prepare plot plans may be interested to know it allows the restoration and reconstruction of nonconforming residential single-family homes within their existing footprint. To qualify, the homes can only be nonconforming as to lot size, setbacks or other dimensional requirements; be habitable as an assessed residential property; and not have been condemned.

 

All four laws take effect July 1.


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