For the past seven years, Shafer, Kline & Warren (SKW) President of Infrastructure and Development Larry Graham has traveled to Washington, D.C., each spring on behalf of Kansas land surveyors to lobby for issues important to the profession and how it affects the public.
During the National Surveying, Mapping and Geospatial Conference, Graham joined 80 surveying professionals from across the country to visit with their corresponding state delegations on March 15 to advocate for the National Society of Professional Surveyors’ (NSPS) position on four issues.
A Professional Engineer, Graham is one of 204 Certified Federal Surveyors (CFedS) in the U.S. and is currently the Kansas NSPS Director. He has been involved with the Kansas Society of Land Surveyors (KSLS) for more than 30 years, including serving as president of KSLS twice and helping found the KSLS charitable foundation to support surveying education.
“The future of surveying is tied up in these organizations,” Graham said. “For a variety of reasons, the average age of a surveyor is 58, so we have to work through these professional organization to make a difference for our profession and support educating the next generation of surveyors.”
This year, one of the issues brought to Capitol Hill focused on education. Graham and the NSPS representatives requested that there be funds made available through STEM to increase the number of Ph.D. holders in the United States to ensure that there are adequate instructors to educate the next generation of survey and geospatial workers.
“We had four new issues this year, because everything we lobbied for last year was accomplished, which says a lot about how well the organizations have done taking these issues to the legislators and the public,” said Graham. Throughout Lobby Day, Graham met with Kansas’ legislators with KSLS Executive Director Valeri Peltier, first visiting the House of Representatives, followed by the Senate.
Two issues Graham helped lobby for were of primary importance to Kansas. One was advocating for the Freedom from Government Competition Act HR 2044. This act would apply the “Yellow Pages” test to surveying services, meaning that if one can find a private company in the Yellow Pages to provide the surveying service that the government is also providing, then the service should be subject to market competition to provide better value to the taxpayer.
The second issue focused on the Flood Insurance Reform & Modernization (FIRM) Act. As Congress considers reauthorization of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), NSPS is lobbying for several technical reforms to help increase accuracy, such as LiDAR and 3D elevation data and structures inventory.
“It’s really incredible. The surface of Mars is currently mapped to better standards than most of the U.S.,” said Graham. With a lot of property in Kansas in or near a flood plain, the lack of accurate data can affect whether Kansans who need flood insurance are required to have it.
Similarly, the fourth issue Graham and the NSPS representatives were lobbying for was the updating and improvement of ocean and costal mapping.
“I really enjoyed talking to the staff and the congress people,” Graham said. “They are very personable and interested in doing a quality job for Kansas. It was a very long, but rewarding day.”
KSLS is an organization dedicated to the promotion of the common good and welfare of members engaged in the practice of land surveying, to foster high standards of professional ethics and practice, to promote the study of land surveying problems and the education of land surveyors.