Louisiana Law Inches Toward Completion

A law is a law. Right?

Well, yes – but it might take a few years to put at least one of them involving geologists into action.

Such has been the saga of the Louisiana Professional Geoscience Practice Act.

It passed muster in the Louisiana state legislature in 2010 as SB 788, moving along to become Act No. 974 upon being signed into law by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

It is one of three legislative acts governing the Louisiana Board of Professional Geoscientists established for the practice of the geological profession in Louisiana.

The board is set up to implement the licensing of professional geoscientists and administer the provisions of Act No. 974.

Since the Act became effective Jan. 1, 2011, there has been a focused effort to work through a legislative maze of sorts to fine-tune and actually execute it.

It’s on track to happen soon – really.

“We’re closer to getting the application forms finalized,” said AAPG member Madhurendu B. Kumar, chairman of the board and its initial appointed member. “It appears that by the first of October we should be up and running digitally with the website, where we’ll post the forms.

“Up to now, the law has been in effect, but it’s only being implemented now,” Kumar emphasized. “Any professional geoscientist currently is governed by this law, and this sets a fee schedule.

“Those who are supposed to be registered or licensed need to complete the application forms approved by the board,” he noted. “The forms (on the website) must be accompanied with a check for the appropriate amount.”

A Slow Appointment Pace

The grandfather deadline initially was set to become effective Jan. 1, 2012.

“I was concerned about such a close deadline and began working in mid-October 2011 to extend this with the goal that we must be fair to all,” Kumar said.

The result is a new grandfather deadline now pegged at Jan. 1, 2014.

When requesting the extension, Kumar noted the need for seed money given that the board was not set up to be included in the state budget. However, the legislature doesn’t address new fees and taxes in even-numbered years. The issue was postponed to this year.

As established, the board is required to have nine members. For whatever reason, member appointments have progressed at the proverbial snail’s pace, with the eighth member being selected in August 2013 and the ninth still to be appointed at press time.

Once all is set up and running, Kumar said he anticipates there will be about 1,000 licensees to start, eventually rising to as many as 2,000.

He added that he expects about half of these to come from outside Louisiana.

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Emphasis: Gulf Coast