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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 00-760



Notice of Comments Issued

[30 Pa.B. 2321]

   Section 5(g) of the Regulatory Review Act (act) (71 P. S. § 745.5(g)) provides that the designated standing committees may issue comments within 20 days of the close of the public comment period, and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (Commission) may issue comments within 10 days of the close of the committee comment period. The Commission comments are based upon the criteria contained in section 5a(h) and (i) of the act (75 P. S. § 745.5a(h) and (i)).

   The Commission has issued comments on the following proposed regulations. The agency must consider these comments in preparing the final-form regulation. The final-form regulations must be submitted by the dates indicated.

Reg. No. Agency/Title Issued Deadline
57-213 Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Reporting Requirements for Quality of Gas Service
Benchmarks and Standards
4/20/00 3/20/02
16A-555 State Board of Accountancy
Continuing Education Program Sponsors
4/20/00 3/20/02
10-161 Department of Health
WIC Program
4/20/00 3/20/02

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Regulation No. 57-213

Reporting Requirements for Quality of Gas Service Benchmarks and Standards

April 20, 2000

   We submit for consideration the following objections and recommendations regarding this regulation. Subsections 5.1(h) and (i) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5a(h) and (i)) list the criteria the Commission must use to determine if the regulation is in the public interest. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) must respond to these Comments when it submits the final-form regulation. If the final-form regulation is not delivered by March 20, 2002, the regulation will be deemed withdrawn.

1.  Section 62.31.  Purpose.--Clarity.

   This section states that the regulation is intended to provide the PUC with uniform measurements and reports to ensure that customer services of Natural Gas Distribution Companies (NGDC) are maintained at the same quality under competition. To improve clarity, the PUC should specify that this regulation applies to two classes of NGDCs which are required to file restructuring plans under the Natural Gas Choice and Competition Act. Specifically, these classes are large NGDCs serving more than 100,000 residential customers and small NGDCs serving less than 100,000 residential customers.

2.  Section 62.32.  Definitions.--Clarity.

Call abandonment rate

   The phrase ''. . . at the NGDC's telephone call center or business office'' appears twice in this definition. To be consistent with the definition of ''busy-out rate,'' the PUC should delete the phrase appearing at the end of the definition of ''call abandonment rate.''

Infraction rate, Justified informal consumer complaint rate and Justified payment arrangement request rate

   The definitions of these terms address informally verified infractions, justified informal complaints and justified payment arrangement requests. To improve clarity, the PUC should add the phrase ''as determined by BCS'' to these definitions.

   Also, these definitions refer to the PUC's ''negotiation procedures or regulations.'' This phrase is vague. The PUC should specify the ''procedures'' and ''regulations'' it will use in determining these rates.

Transaction survey

   Subparagraph (ii) of this definition lists transactions that could be included in an NGDC's survey. However, section 62.34(2) of the proposed regulation provides a list of transactions that must be included in the transaction survey. Given the explicitness of section 62.34(2), subparagraph (ii) in the definition of ''transaction survey'' is not necessary and should be deleted.

3.  Section 62.33. Reporting requirements.--Reasonableness; Clarity.

Subsection (b) Recordkeeping

   This subsection establishes what data an NGDC must report. However, it does not require an NGDC to record the amount of time it takes for the NGDC to respond to emergency calls. The PUC should consider adding the amount of time it takes an NGDC to respond to emergency safety calls to the list of items required to be reported.

   This subsection also requires each NGDC to ''take measures necessary and keep sufficient records'' to report certain data to the PUC. This phrase does not specify what measures are ''necessary'' or what records are ''sufficient.'' Instead, the regulation clearly sets forth the data that is to be reported to the PUC. Consequently, this phrase is unnecessary and should be deleted.

Subsection (b)(3) Meter reading

   Subsection (b)(3)(i) and (ii) requires each NGDC to report the number and percent of residential meters for which the company has not obtained an actual or ratepayer supplied reading within the past 6 and 12 months, as required by the PUC's Chapter 56 regulations. However, this requirement does not distinguish between meters which are inside or outside a residential customer's home. Although this distinction does not negate the Chapter 56 requirement for meter readings, the location of the meter is a significant factor in an NGDC's failure to obtain the required meter readings. The PUC should consider allowing separate reporting for meters which are inside a residential customer's home.

4.  Section 62.34.  Customer surveys.--Clarity.

Paragraph (1) Purpose

   This paragraph requires survey questions to measure the ''promptness'' and ''timeliness'' of the NGDC's response or visit. These terms are also used in section 62.35(3)(iv). The difference between these terms is unclear. For clarity, the PUC should define ''promptness'' and ''timeliness'' in section 62.32.

Paragraph (2) Questions

   We request the PUC specify what types of transactions would fall into category (vi) ''Other similar transactions.''

Paragraph (3) Uniform data

   This provision requires an NGDC to conduct a survey using ''instruments and procedures'' which provide the PUC with uniform data. We request the PUC clarify what ''instruments and procedures'' are to be used.

Paragraph (6) Commission approval

   This paragraph states the ''survey instrumentation, as well as procedures for case selection, sampling, conducting the survey, analyzing results and reporting to the Commission shall be subject to the review and approval of the Commission.'' We have several questions relating to this provision. When does review and approval occur? Is review and approval done through a formal proceeding? If not, what type of proceeding is used? We request the PUC address these issues in the final regulation.

5.  Section 62.35. NGDCs with fewer than 10,000 residential accounts.--Clarity.

Paragraph (1) Survey sample

   This paragraph requires an NGDC to report to the PUC ''[T]he results of a mail survey of a sample of the NGDC customers who have had interactions with one or more representatives of the NGDC.'' (Emphasis added.) However, the regulation does not specify the required sample size. It is our understanding that the PUC intends to require each small NGDC (under 100,000 residential customers) to survey every 10th customer that contacts the company. For clarity, the PUC should include the required sample size in the final regulation.

   Additionally, the phrase ''one or more representatives of'' is unnecessary. For clarity and consistency with the language in section 62.34, the PUC should delete this phrase.

Paragraph (3) BCS approval

   This paragraph provides that ''[E]ach NGDC shall use the same mail survey questionnaire which shall be approved by the BCS.'' Is the questionnaire approved by the BCS through a formal proceeding? If not, what type of proceeding is used? We request the PUC address these issues in the final regulation.

6.  Section 62.36. Informal complaints to the BCS.--Clarity.

Subsection (a) Residential informal consumer complaints and payment arrangement requests

   According to this subsection, the BCS will report the ''justified consumer complaint rate'' to the PUC on an annual basis. The defined term in section 62.32 is ''justified informal consumer complaint rate.'' The PUC should use the defined term in this subsection. If this provision is intended to address a different complaint rate, the PUC should separately define ''justified consumer complaint rate.''

Subsection (b) Informally verified infractions

   This subsection states that the BCS will report to the PUC ''an 'infraction rate' for each NGDC with more than 100,000 residential accounts.'' It is unclear if the ''infraction rate'' referenced in this subsection is the same rate as the one defined in section 62.32. If the PUC is referring to the same rate, why does the term appear in quotation marks in this subsection? If the PUC is referring to a different rate, the term should be defined for purposes of this subsection.

7.  Waiver of survey requirements.--Clarity.

   In the preamble, the PUC states that it reserves the right to waive the requirements of this regulation upon petition by an affected party under 52 Pa. Code § 5.43 (relating to petitions for issuance, amendment, waiver or repeal of regulations). However, waivers are not addressed in the proposed regulation. The PUC should consider adding a section which cross-references the requirements for petitioning for a waiver in section 5.43.

State Board of Accountancy Regulation No. 16A-555

Continuing Education Program Sponsors

April 20, 2000

   We submit for consideration the following objections and recommendations regarding this regulation. Subsections 5.1(h) and (i) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5a(h) and (i)) list the criteria the Commission must use to determine if the regulation is in the public interest. The State Board of Accountancy (Board) must respond to these Comments when it submits the final-form regulation. If the final-form regulation is not delivered by March 20, 2002, the regulation will be deemed withdrawn.

1.  Section 11.64. Sources of continuing education credit.--Clarity.

   The date in this section is inconsistent with the Preamble. The date, May 1, 2000, should be deleted and replaced with January 1, 2001.

2.  Section 11.69.a. Approval of program sponsor.--Reasonableness, Implementation procedure and Clarity.

Subsection (a) Initial approval.

   Subsection (a) states, ''[T]he approval of previously approved program sponsors will expire December 31, 2000.'' Additionally, ''[P]reviously approved programs sponsors desiring to offer continuing education programs after December 31, 2000, shall comply with this section.''

   The House Professional Licensure Committee has two concerns with this requirement. First, will the program sponsor applicants be able to comply with the December 31, 2000 deadline? Second, given the potential number of program sponsor applications, does the Board have the ability to process these applications in time? The Board should explain how both the Board and applicants will meet the deadline.

Subsection (c) Contents of application for initial approval.

   This subsection contains an extensive list of information required in an application for approval. The contents of paragraphs (1), (2), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10) and (11) are definitive and readily available.

   However, we question whether the program sponsor will be able to provide to the Board the information requested in paragraphs (3) (the dates and locations of the programs), (4) (the faculty names, titles and degrees) and (5) (the program schedules, which include the title of subject, lecturer, time allotted, excluding breaks and lunches). This information may be difficult to project 2 years in advance.

   To properly evaluate a program sponsor, the Board needs to review the sponsor's courses and instructors. At the same time, the Board must recognize that this information is subject to change. To provide greater flexibility, the Board should consider allowing approved program sponsors to submit any changes, deletions or amendments to the information required in this subsection as they occur.

Subsection (e) Board review of application for initial approval.

   This subsection provides that the Board's Continuing Education Committee (Committee) will review an application for approval or disapproval. If a program is disapproved, the Board will provide the applicant the reasons for disapproval, and allow the applicant to resubmit the disapproved application. However, there are no time frames for any stage of this process. For clarity, the Board should provide time frames for the Committee's review, and for an applicant to resubmit.

3.  Section 11.71. Responsibilities of program sponsor.--Need and Clarity.

Paragraph (1) Program level of difficulty.

   For improved readability, the phrase ''[A]s an illustration'' should be replaced by ''For example.''

Paragraph (4) Program review.

   This paragraph states, ''[A] program sponsor shall review the course materials periodically . . . .'' The term ''periodically'' is vague. For clarity, the Board should consider including a set time frame for the review of course materials in paragraph (4).

Paragraph (6) Selection and review of instructors.

   Paragraph (6) includes the phrase ''[A]lthough it is expected that the instructors will be selected with great care . . . .'' This phrase is unnecessary in the regulation. For clarity, the Board should delete it from this paragraph.

Paragraphs (8) and (9) Attendance records and course materials.

   These two paragraphs require program sponsors to maintain and retain records of attendance and written outlines of course materials for a 5-year period. Although this retention requirement is consistent with an existing provision at 49 Pa. Code § 11.68(a), the period appears to be lengthy. It is our understanding that the Board only reviews records from the previous biennium. When the current biennium ends, it is unnecessary to retain records that will not be used. Therefore, the Board should explain the need to retain records for a 5-year period rather than the current and previous biennial review period.

4.  Section 11.72. Withdrawal of approval of program sponsor.--Reasonableness.

   This section allows the Board to withdraw the approval of a program sponsor. What impact does the withdrawal of approval have on courses given by the program sponsor before the withdrawal? It is our understanding that participants can still claim credit for courses they took from a program sponsor before the Board withdrew approval from that sponsor. If this is so, the regulation should make that clear.

Department of Health Regulation No. 10-161

WIC Program

April 20, 2000

   We submit for consideration the following objections and recommendations regarding this regulation. Each objection or recommendation includes a reference to the criteria in the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5a(h) and (i)) which has not been met. The Department of Health (Department) must respond to these Comments when it submits the final-form regulation. If the final-form regulation is not delivered by March 20, 2002, the regulation will be deemed withdrawn.

1.  Section 1103.2. Probationary certification.--Clarity.

   There appears to be a typographical error in subsection (b)(2). The subsection (b)(2) cross reference to Inadequate Participant Access is cited as section 1107.3(c)(8). However, Inadequate Participant Access is found at section 1103.7. Is the correct reference section 1103.7(c)(8)? If not, please explain.

2.  Section 1103.3. Authorization of store slots.--Clarity.

   Subsection (b) provides that by October 1 of each year the Department will evaluate the WIC participant population to determine store slot allocations per county for each Federal Fiscal Year. Please explain how the public and the industry will be notified of annual changes in store slots.

3.  Section 1107.1. Imposition of sanctions.--Consistency with Federal regulations and Clarity.

   New subsections (b) and (c) both state ''. . . the Department will give the store the option of paying a civil money penalty in lieu of . . . disqualification. . . .'' The parallel portions of 7 CFR 246.12(f)(2)(xix) and (xx) provide ''. . . the State Agency shall impose a civil money penalty. . . .'' (Emphasis added) The Department should explain why the language in the regulation differs from the language in the Federal regulation.

4.  Section 1107.1a. Disqualifications.--Clarity.

   There are two clarity concerns in subsection (d). First, in paragraph (9) the phrase ''or with another WIC check for purchases made with a WIC check'' is unclear. What circumstance does this phrase address?

   Second, paragraph (14) uses the phrase ''within the specified time frame,'' but does not specifically identify the time frame. Time frames are set forth in sections 1105.2(f), (g) and 1105.6(f). The Department should amend paragraph (14) to clearly specify the time frames that must be met to avoid disqualification, or include a cross reference to sections 1105.2(f), (g) and 1105.6(f).

5.  Section 1107.2. Civil money penalties.--Clarity.

   There is an inconsistency between subsection (b)(2) and the Preamble. Subsection (b)(2) begins ''For disqualifications identified in sections 1107.1a(d)(2)--(15), . . . .'' The Preamble includes sections 1107.1a(d)(2)--(16). The De-partment should make these citations consistent for the final-form submittal.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 00-760. Filed for public inspection May 5, 2000, 9:00 a.m.]

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