Wisconsin Geospatial News

Land surveying bill moving through Legislature

A bill that aims to update the statutes that govern the land surveying profession in Wisconsin is making its way through the Legislature. The Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 394, has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Labor and a series of amendments have been offered. In the Assembly, the companion bill, Assembly Bill 506, has been passed with amendments by the Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations. 

This is a complex bill with provisions that impact the practice of professional land surveying, surveying of land next to navigable waters, and plats and certified survey maps. The full text of the bill, as well as amendments, fiscal estimates, and Government Accountability Board lobbying information, can be found here (Senate version) and here (Assembly version). An analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau is provided at the beginning of the bill text on these web pages; this analysis is the best way for the non-surveyor to understand the implications of the bill.

In terms of GIS and cartography, the bill defines professional land surveying to include the preparation of maps that depict any interest in real property for the purpose of establishing the boundaries of any such interest in real property. Real property in this definition includes one or more tracts of land or the boundaries of any of the following interests in real property: a) the alignment and rights-of-way of roads or streets; b) air or subsurface property rights; or c) public or private easements.

In addition, professional land surveying would encompass creation of any of the following: “a) an official map established or amended by a city, established or amended by a village, or adopted by a town; b) an assessor’s plat; c) a map or plat of cemetery lands; d) a subdivision plat, certified survey map, or correction instrument; e) a condominium plat or correction instrument; or f) a project and time-share plat.” Such activities would be regulated under the bill’s general professional land surveying licensing requirements.

Assembly amendements to the bill include exemptions for certain employees of public utilities, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, the Department of Military Affairs, the Department of Transportation, the Public Service Commission, and the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands

Public debate has started for this bill and several public meetings have been held, with various organizations lobbying both for and against the bill. Stay tuned for more information, or monitor the Wisconsin Legislative Documents Web site or the Wheeler Report.