The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry moved to eliminate Land Surveying as a profession yesterday. This is being done on behalf of the Title Insurance lobby which wants to collect our fees through their product called "Express Map."

They argue that the Texas Board of Professional Land Surveying (TBPLS) costs the state of Texas 600 thousand dollars a year. The fact is the TBPLS nets the state of Texas more than 1/2 million dollars a year ... above and beyond it's operating costs. It has never cost the state anything to operate the TBPLS. The extra money generated by the TBPLS is put back in the school and general fund for the state of Texas.

Express maps are nothing more than complied data available for free on the web. This product does not define the boundaries of real property as many people seem to believe. I find errors in the real property descriptions provided by Title Insurance firms every day. A tax mosaic superimposed over a satellite image is not a Land Survey and can never serve as one. The private ownership of real property rests on a Land Survey in America. Without a Land Survey there can be no private ownership of real property.

This is something we should all be concerned about even if you are not a Land Surveyor. If you are in Texas I urge you to write, fax or email your local state senator and state Representative. If you are outside of Texas then I ask that you to support us in any way that you can. It will be you next who will face extinction if something is not done about this now.

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Subject Tags: Elimination, Governer, Land, Professional, Surveying, Surveyors, TBPLS, TX, Texas

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Deward,

Being a Texas surveyor this issue is of great interest to me.  I have spent every chance I have had in the past few days trying to gather information on this, and I was wondering where you found that this was being done on behalf of the title insurance lobby.  Thanks for the help.

Mr. Whitley

I am rather surprised that this is news to you. I suppose I may pay more attention to these matters than most however this has been an issue for more than a decade.

 I will give you a brief run down of the events over the past dozen years or so and suggest some text you might want to read. I have written several articles about this over the years that were on the old TSPS website. I just wrote an article dealing with this subject that will appear this month in the Gulf Coast Surveyor Journal.

F.A. Stamper wrote a text book entitled "A handbook for Texas Abstractors and Title Men" and published it in 1966. By the time of the last printing in 1980 abstractors in Texas were on the verge of being completely wiped out by the title insurance industry. In the "forward" of the text book Stamper wonders what the ultimate face of real property transactions would become once lawyers had completed their take over the title insurance business. Land Surveyors should have taken heed to this trend.

 

Around 1998 the title insurance industry introduced a means of offering a surve... survey deletion through affidavit(see page 27) from the owner. In this way updated surveys were no longer needed for a survey deletion. Immediately old copies of surveys became valuable because the title insurance firm could resell the copy of the survey over and over each time there was a new transaction. Land Surveyors reacted by placing copyright notices on their surveys but this did little or nothing to stop this. Title Insurance firms began insisting that Land Surveyors send them electronic versions of their surveys so that they could easily store and disseminate these copies of surveys over and over and over again and collect a fee each time. The Land Surveyor gets nothing. At the time my business was almost exclusively commercial Land Titles, that business evaporated over night.

Next was the rise of "survey brokers" who were actually owned by the title insurance firms. If you as a Land Surveyor were unwilling to sign the "special" certifications (this one is not particularly egregious but still I am sure you get the point) they wanted and provide your product with their logo, border and advertisements then you simply no longer had any title survey business. I pretty much no longer performed title surveys after around 2003 because I refused to prostitute my license, business and this profession.

 Then in the last couple of years we have seen "express maps." Perhaps you are unaware of some of the activity of the TBPLS that has led to friction with the title insurance firms over this new threat ( Dec. 2007 Board minutes: The Board requested that a complaint be opened against the company preparing the ExpressMap, Residential Land Services (RLS). You may follow some of this by reading the minutes they periodically produce.

 If you are asking if I have a tape recording of the title insurance lobby telling the Rick Perry to shut down the TBPLS then I would have to tell you no I do not. However (TLTAPAC 113 grand in 2010) there is overwhelming evidence that this is true. I am not trying to attack a particular political party so excuse me if the links offend you or some others. I can go on and on but you can come to your own conclusions (152 grand by TLTAPAC in 2008, they beat out Texans for Rick Perry) by simply searching the web.

 

 

 

Hello, Mr. Bowles, and other interested members

 

This is the only public website that I have found that is discussing this matter.  Like others I suppose, I've emailed TSPS to find out what is going on!  They are studying the situation and preparing a response I read.  Mr. John Watson did kindly write me back an email response.  They are aware and working the situation.  But, he says that he has met with title company reps recently- and they gave him no indication they were moving in this direction.  I sent him your piece on what you think might be happening.  He has not written me back about it.  We have been behind the '8-ball' for years on issues with the title industry, in my opinion.  I hope this is not a serious move by them against us.  I mean, we collect millions for the State in sales tax.  Surely the govt would not let this vanish!  oh well..... we'll keep up on events as things move along with this......

Here is some more news from the TSPS legal council Mark Hanna that tells you a little. I am sure of course that you have seen this. What is even more interesting is the sample product now fails to meet even minimum standard for boundary definition.

Thank you Mr. Bowles, however I was indeed aware of the… lets say.... (while biting my tongue), the non-desirable actions of the title insurance industry.  I was just hoping for a direct link as to the reasoning behind Governor Perry's statement. 

 

I have drafted a letter to the Governor, my State Senator and my State Representative, and I wanted to include all of the facts I could to benefit the Board without including anything that could not be backed up with proof-positive documentation.

I wish I knew more, we are all in the dark, so to speak. I have not spoken to anyone in authority since the January chapter meeting. Paul Kwan had mentioned some new polices and I wrote a post about it. They were tilting toward enforcement and transparency. They were asking for volunteers to enter in data so that all complaints resulting in a fine would show up in the roster attached to that Land Surveyor's information. They were also talking about no longer combining multiple complaints against a particular Land Surveyor into a single complaint.

 

It did not help that Nedra Foster had a ruling against her by the Ethics Board for issuing an Affidavit of Merit against Mark Paine. I am not saying anything about my particular feelings about that case one way or another I am just saying it is bad timing. Mark Hanna's report contains those details in the link I provided above.

Re: Governor proposes suspension of funding for Texas Board of Professional Land Surveying...

Posted by James Redmonon Feb 11, 2011 6:07 pm

That is the speculation of one person, who has been known to be a bit of a conspiracy nut.  I have a theory that has absolutely no evidence to support it but the fact that our profession and the geoscientist profession overlap in the industry I think is behind it.  The reason I would like to stop speculation is that groups like TLTA, TSPE, and such can assist us under the domino theory, but if we are lashing out without evidence, we might burn bridges we need.  Someone earlier in the thread asked if TSPS had a message board and the answer is no, we took down the one we had due to the fact that it was not being used by anyone except one person.  We have started a blog though that accepts comments and I have a post on it now asking for guidance about what info the members want.  it is accessible from the front page of the tsps website but is available to members only.  That is so we can have discussions without having everything strewn around the net for everyone to peruse.
James Redmon

 

http://www.rpls.com/forums/viewtopic/2/1275990

 

Here is some more news on this subject. The "nut" Mr. Redmon is speaking about is none other than....myself. Mr. Redmon is guilty of ignorance as to the intent of Title 22 Part 29 of the Texas Administrative Code. It is unfortunate that individuals of his character have been allowed to assume authority at TSPS and indicates one of the reasons why this profession in Texas has reached such a low point. I have been a member of TSPS for 20 years and have contributed vast amounts of my time, money and energy promoting our profession. It is truly sad how this profession is being destroyed by individuals like Mr. Redmond.

TSPS Member -

 ColorEPSLogo.gif(From Pat Smith, TSPS Governmental Affairs Committee Chair)

TSPS representatives were in attendance at the February 16 meeting of the House Finance Committee where the proposed budget for TBPLS was presented. No comments were made by the Committee and at this time the budget for TBPLS remains as a separate line item.

TSPS representatives also met with the Governor’s Advisor of Budget, Planning & Policy, to discuss the Governors remarks relative to TBPLS in his State of the State address to the legislature and proposed budget recommendations. TSPS was advised that the remarks are only relative to options of how to refine the size of state government relative to the budgetary concerns and is in no way an attempt to de-regulate the surveying profession or do away with the regulatory & enforcement functions of TBPLS.

What does TSPS know at this point? There is no move underway to “do away” with the surveying profession. There is no legislation currently filed that changes TBPLS from an independent state agency.

Will it stay this way? Given the current push by all parts of the Legislature (Governor, Senate & House) to reduce the budget deficit, numerous avenues will be investigated and discussed on how to reduce the size & cost of state government. The direct impact to TBPLS could involve remaining an independent agency, consolidation with an existing agency, being administratively attached to an existing state agency or a plan for TBPLS to become a semi-autonomous agency on its own or in conjunction with other licensed professions.

TSPS representatives are meeting with key Senators & Representatives to make sure that TBPLS maintains its unique identity and the regulatory and enforcement functions remain the same in whatever legislative action occurs. As was stated in the prior Legislative Update, it is early in the session and committees are just starting to meet and discuss these issues and TSPS is dedicated to being involved in the process and protecting the interests of the surveying professionals.



_______________________________________________________________________________________

 

As many of you may know TSPS has been trying to get the TLTA to stop title insurance representatives and Realtors from altering Land Surveys (which is fraud in my opinion). If you read the report from Mark Hanna you will find more about this. The Land Surveys of mine that I have seen altered fall into a couple of categories. The first type of alteration that I notice most is old Land Surveys of mine where people have taken it an added a new revision date below the signature line and then had it scanned to make it appear as if the survey was performed within the last 10 years. The other category of alteration is where the Title Company will file a different description with the County Clerk's office than the one that I produced. This is done by retyping the description I have produced and then cutting my signature and seal of the original survey and then pasting it onto the the new document and then copying it and filing that.

 

Pat Smith is a great guy and is very level headed. It appears nobody is still sure why the Governor Perry is saying the TBPLS should be suspended. We will just have to stay tuned. Something I would like to point out is that Mr. Redmond has called me a nut for suggesting the Title Insurance industry is behind this, well my response to Mr. Redmond is that his own speculation suggesting the "our profession and the geoscientist profession overlap in the industry I think is behind it" is patently ridiculous. Mr. Redmond should resign from his office, he has shown that he has no regard for his fellow Land Surveyors, is a hypocrite and further his behavior in this crisis I would characterize as childish.

TSPS capitolbuilding.jpgLegislative Update
Feb 25, 2011


TSPS representatives continue to attend relevant committee meetings at the Capitol and the information gathering process gains momentum. There is still much to be learned and not a lot of details are available but a few rather specific rumors are emerging in the process.

ColorEPSLogo.gifWhat we know for sure is that a consolidation with the Texas General Land Office is not an option. In a meeting this week, GLO staff explained that encompassing a regulatory and enforcement agency within their framework is not feasible. While somewhat disappointing, knowing the GLO position allows TSPS to move in different directions to determine what will best serve the surveying profession.

What we are hearing, that can’t yet be confirmed, is that a bill may be forthcoming to combine the TBPLS with the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners. This Board is currently composed of the Architects, the Interior Designers and the Landscape Architects. We await a bill that can be studied for answers to questions of Board composition, who would fill potential seats on the Board, impact on the Surveying Practices Act and more. If/when that bill becomes available we will post it so everyone will have a chance to review it and a decision can be made on what position TSPS should take. 

Other rumors speculate that TBPLS might be combined with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. Many seem to think that surveying and engineering logically belong together. With a long history between the two professions we can see both sides of the coin in joining TBPLS and TBPE. One concept might be to have an administrative attachment with the engineers allowing for the TBPLS Board to remain intact and to operate independently within the TBPE organizational structure with both Boards having shared staff and overhead resources.

You might be asking, why not just leave everything the way it is? The Governor has laid the political groundwork in his press release by calling for changes to TBPLS. Ultimately he can use the line-item veto as a last resort intervention in the budget process to affect spending priorities at the end of the legislative session. That is a big risk for our profession and one we feel we should not leave to chance. Therefore we will continue to work for the best possible alternative.

_________________________________________________

Bad news and no news about who is behind this and why it is happening. It seems rather ridiculous that we may have to join the Architect or Engineer Board out of fear that if we do not we will be at the mercy of Perry and his wisdom.

I get the politics, but I don't understand the logic to any of this.

 

Just get me out of the sales tax collection business, and I'll take the deal...

 

(fat chance)

LOL Mr. Denson, I hear ya!

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