I hope everyone survived the Great Flood of 2015 with a minimum of damage. I suspect our Civil members will be busier than usual cleaning up and rebuilding after this.
In the past, the SCSPE State Board has discussed ways we can influence the political factors that affect our profession. I know that political activity is near the bottom of most engineers’ lists, but it’s a necessary evil. We cannot afford to ignore something that has so much influence on our professional lives.
Joe Jones, our lobbyist and past Executive Director, has suggested that we consider political contributions. It didn’t take long to rule that out. As a dues supported organization we simply don’t have the money to make contributions to our legislators.
Joe has come up with a very clever alternative. The General Assembly (Senate plus House of Representatives) is in session from the second Tuesday in January until the first Tuesday in June. While they are not in session (now) Joe is trying to visit as many senators and representatives as possible to discuss with them the political issues that are important to us. He is focusing on members of the Labor, Commerce and Industry committees.
We have asked members of SCSPE, American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and SC Society of Land Surveyors (SCSLS) to go along on the visits. The idea is, if we can’t impress them with money, maybe we can impress them with people. When we have filed into their offices some of the legislators have commented that they wonder if they are being attacked (It works!).
Joe and Adam talk with the legislators about the revised engineering practice act that is currently going through the legislature, and about infrastructure funding bills in general. Specifically, the practice act has three issues that we feel are important: protecting the term “engineer”, brokering of engineering and surveying services and qualification based selection of engineering design services. They discuss the specifics of those issues and ask the legislators to support them as they are written into the practice act. So far, all the meetings have been cordial and productive.
Joe, Adam Jones (our other lobbyist), and various engineers and surveyors have visited 13 legislators in their home offices. The list has a total of 40 names, so there are 27 more visits being scheduled. The effort will continue until the end of the year.
When meetings are scheduled in a particular area we try to enlist local members of SCSPE to go along. If you are contacted about this, please make an effort to go. You really don’t have to do anything besides put on a coat and tie and show up. Joe and Adam do the talking. Your simple presence could have more of an impact than you think.
I have attended several of these meetings, and the experience was very enlightening. My esteem for our state legislators has been improved by the experience. I was most impressed with their attentiveness and the perceptive questions they asked.
So, again, if you’re asked to help with this effort, please do. If you have any questions about any of this, please let me know.