Florida: The Family Team

It’s what the Florida Surveying and Mapping Society tapped to help prevent deregulation of the profession in Florida.
By Marilyn C. Evers

Communication is key to a healthy and successful family, and it has always been a top priority here at the Florida Surveying and Mapping Society (FSMS). At this writing, we have just completed our annual conference, which I liken each year to a family meeting. Never have I seen so many smiles, heard so much laughter, or witnessed so many hugs between members. The family feel of “it’s so good to see you” was everywhere, and that atmosphere made it a pleasure to take care of the business part of the conference.

Our board of directors has long been committed to clear communication with our members and takes pride in keeping them up to date on the latest happenings in Florida’s surveying and mapping community as well as the national scene. Timely information is provided via our email bulletins as often as needed.

FSMS communication was never more critical than during our most-recent legislative session, when Florida’s governor and some legislators seriously considered deregulating the surveying and mapping profession.

For well over three decades our board of directors has employed a legislative consulting firm to work year-round with our Legislative Committee for the good of our members. That group, joined by our Executive Committee, monitors activity in our capitol and keeps their finger on the pulse. The descriptive word “representation” fits here: a bonus for FSMS members.

In early January, the Florida House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee began a process of reviewing government regulations that were considered “getting in the way” of businesses and professions and stifling job creation in Florida. The subcommittee held several workshops discussing what businesses or professions the government was currently regulating and asked legislators their opinion on the purpose the regulation served. Members of our group began meeting with members of the subcommittee to voice our concerns and testified in opposition of deregulation of surveying and mapping.

In March a proposed committee bill for deregulation was released that, much to our alarm and extreme concern, included surveying and mapping. A concerted effort to file an amendment to the bill was not accepted by the chair. Moving into overdrive, our president issued our first Member Legislative Alert through our email bulletins to begin our grassroots effort to save the profession. We solicited action by every member, and the fight was on. Contact with legislators through phone calls and emails; trips to Tallahassee to attend hearings and committee meetings, and meetings with legislators and aides: all were communication tactics by our members trying to make a difference.

Member involvement reached an all-time high as legislators were pummeled by surveyors and mappers explaining the importance of regulation—not just for the profession, but for the protection of all Florida citizens. For two months, sometimes-daily Legislative Alerts kept our members informed and on task as we labored week after week to win the battle. Ultimately, surveying and mapping was removed from the bill.

Team work and team spirit brought team victory and proved the strength and determination of our members. Our 56 years of success is due to member involvement, with strong leadership. It’s what our association is all about.
Marilyn C. Evers is executive director of the Florida Surveying and Mapping Society.

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