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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 10-1520



[ 49 PA. CODE CH. 31 ]

Biennial Renewal Fees

[40 Pa.B. 4757]
[Saturday, August 21, 2010]

 The State Board of Veterinary Medicine (Board) amends § 31.41 (relating to schedule of fees) to read as set forth in Annex A. The final-form rulemaking increases the Board's biennial renewal fees for the upcoming renewal period beginning on December 1, 2010, and provides for an additional increase for the next biennial renewal period. The Board's original proposed rulemaking, which provided for a new fee for the initial biennial period beginning on December 1, 2010, followed by five incremental increases, was disapproved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) on April 22, 2010, with delivery of the disapproval order on April 28, 2010.

Effective Date

 The final-form rulemaking will be effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The new fees will be instituted for the upcoming biennial renewal cycle, which will begin on December 1, 2010. An incremental increase will be instituted beginning with the December 1, 2012, biennial renewal cycle.

Statutory Authority

 Section 13(b) of the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act (act) (63 P. S. § 485.13(b)) requires the Board to increase fees by regulation to meet or exceed projected expenditures if the revenues raised by fees, fines and civil penalties are not sufficient to meet Board expenditures. In its 2007 and 2008 annual reports to the Board, the Department's Bureau of Finance and Operations (BFO) reported significant anticipated deficits requiring an increase in fees. In response to suggestions by the House Professional Licensure Committee (HPLC), the Board proposed to raise fees incrementally. The fees proposed by the Board were based on estimates from the BFO and were intended to ensure the continued operation of the Board in accordance with its statutory mandate.

 In its disapproval order, IRRC opined that the General Assembly did not intend for the Board to set fees on an incrementally increasing basis. The act specifies that the Board may only increase fees so that its projected revenues meet or exceed its projected expenditures. The act directs the Board to consider its revenues and expenditures on a biennial basis because fees are collected biennially. In consideration of IRRC's concerns, and the concerns of the HPLC that licensees be subject to smaller, incremental increases, the Board amended this final-form rulemaking to provide for an initial increase to the biennial renewal fee followed by one small increase to set the new fee that will thereafter be applied. In addition, based on more recent projections by the BFO, the fees have been set at an amount lower than originally proposed.

Summary of Comments and the Board's Response

 The Board received one comment from an individual member of the public and a comment from the Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA). The individual commented that he was opposed to the fee increase because ''many complaints and issues before the board are based on disputes over fees and concern about paying bills.'' The Board does not have jurisdiction over fee disputes and complaints regarding fees are closed at a very early stage; therefore, costs associated with these types of complaints are minimal. Rather, the Board attributes the increases in expenditures to increased regulatory efforts and an increase in practice-related complaints.

 The PVMA wrote to state that it did not have objections to the proposed fee increases in light of the past deficits and projected future deficits. The PVMA also noted its willingness to work with the Board to educate the veterinary profession and potentially help decrease the number of complaints and, therefore, the need to raise fees. The Board appreciates the PVMA's demonstrated willingness to educate the veterinary profession, particularly with regard to the Board's recent rulemakings related to recordkeeping and professional conduct.

 The HPLC questioned how the new projected expenditures over the next six biennial renewal periods for veterinarians and veterinary technicians were determined to assure that the fee increases will adequately meet their intended goal. The BFO bases its calculations on income and expenses for the past 3 years and also considers particular items identified by the Board that may alter the estimates. The Board's expenses have risen dramatically over the past 10 years, requiring several fee increases. This historic trend was also considered. The Board has had an increase in practice issue cases, which require greater resources. The Board has also undertaken a more ambitious regulatory agenda, including regulations to effectuate section 27(a)(2) of the act (63 P. S. § 485.27(a)(2)), which requires the Board to inspect all animal hospitals or veterinary establishments, including mobile clinics, at least biennially. The BFO considered this information when it proposed fees to the Board. The Board, cognizant of the expense of repeatedly promulgating fee regulations and the disruption to licensees caused by unpredictable fees, determined that it should round the BFO's proposals up slightly.

 The HPLC urged the Board to closely monitor its expenses to determine the adequacy of the increase over the proposed period and beyond so if a change in fees is needed, it will be realized as soon as possible. The Board has always monitored its budget on a fiscal and biennial basis and will continue to do so, especially since the proposed rulemaking has now been limited to the next two biennial renewal periods. The Board will request information from the groups that provide services to the Board and will endeavor to ensure that expenses do not increase unnecessarily.

 Finally, the HPLC noted that it appreciated the graduated increase as being easier for the Board's licensees. The Board agrees that the graduated increase will be easier for its licensees to plan for and manage their budgets.

 IRRC noted that while it did not question the policy behind the incremental fee increases, it asked the Board to explain how the increases conform to the intent of the General Assembly and section 13 of the act. IRRC asked the Board to explain its statutory authority for automatic increases that may or may not be needed 10 years in the future and asked if the financial condition of the Board improves, would the fees be decreased accordingly? Section 13(b) of the act requires the Board to increase its biennial renewal fees if the Board's revenues are not sufficient to meet expenditures over a 2-year period. The General Assembly references a 2-year period because license renewal fees are collected biennially; therefore, the Board can only accurately gauge its revenue and expenses by looking at a given 2-year period. Section 13(b) of the act does not limit the Board to looking only 2 years into the future when projecting a budget surplus or shortfall. It is simply a legislative mandate to increase fees at the point that biennial revenue is inadequate to fund the Board's projected expenditures over a biennial period to provide for the continued operations of the Board. For this reason, the Board voted to continue with its plan to incrementally increase biennial renewal fees, albeit over only the next two renewal periods, adjusted to reflect the BFO's updated projections.

 The HPLC approved the final-form rulemaking package. As previously noted, IRRC disapproved the final-form rulemaking package. Following the disapproval, the Board requested that representatives from the BFO appear at its May 6, 2010, meeting to update the Board on its projected budget and to present alternatives to the proposed rulemaking. The Board considered the information presented by the BFO and adopted the BFO's proposed initial fee increase followed by an incremental increase in the following biennial period. The Board believes that this approach addresses IRRC's concerns about raising fees 10 years out, while still incorporating the HPLC's suggestion of smaller, more frequent changes to the biennial renewal fees.

Fiscal Impact and Paperwork Requirements

 The final-form rulemaking will increase the biennial renewal fee to $345 for veterinarians and $85 for veterinary technicians for the biennial period beginning December 1, 2010, and to $360 for veterinarians and $100 for veterinary technicians beginning December 1, 2012. The final-form rulemaking should not have other fiscal impact on the private sector, the general public or political subdivisions. The final-form rulemaking will require the Board to alter some of its forms to reflect the new biennial renewal fees; however, the final-form rulemaking should not create additional paperwork for the private sector.

Sunset Date

 The Board continuously monitors its regulations. Therefore, a sunset date has not been assigned.

Regulatory Review

 Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on September 2, 2009, the Board submitted a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking, published at 39 Pa.B. 5436 (September 19, 2009), to IRRC and the Chairpersons of the HPLC and the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee (SCP/PLC) for review and comment.

 Under section 5(c) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC, the HPLC and the SCP/PLC were provided with copies of the comments received during the public comment period, as well as other documents when requested. In preparing the final-form rulemaking, the Board has considered all comments from IRRC, the HPLC, the SCP/PLC and the public.

 Under section 5.1(j.2) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5a(j.2)), on March 24, 2010, the final-form rulemaking was approved by the HPLC. On April 22, 2010, the final-form rulemaking was deemed approved by the SCP/PLC. Under section 5.1(e) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC met on April 22, 2010, and disapproved the final-form rulemaking and delivered notice of its disapproval on April 28, 2010.

 Under section 7(c) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.7(c)), the Board amended its final rulemaking package and submitted a report to IRRC and the Chairpersons of the HPLC and the SCP/PLC. Following submission of the report, IRRC met on July 15, 2010, and approved the amended final rulemaking. Under section 7(d) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.7(d)), the amended final-form rulemaking was deemed approved by the HPLC and the SCP/PLC on July 29, 2010.


 The Board finds that:

 (1) Public notice of proposed rulemaking was given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

 (2) A public comment period was provided as required by law and all comments were considered.

 (3) This final-form rulemaking is necessary and appropriate for administering and enforcing the authorizing act identified in this preamble.


 The Board, acting under its authorizing statute, orders that:

 (a) The regulations of the Board, 49 Pa. Code Chapter 31, are amended by amending § 31.41 to read as set forth in Annex A.

 (b) The Board shall submit this order and Annex A to the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Attorney General as required by law.

 (c) The Board shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

 (d) This order shall take effect immediately upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.


 (Editor's Note: For the text of the order of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission relating to this document, see 40 Pa.B. 4359 (July 31, 2010).)

Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 16A-5723 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

Annex A






§ 31.41. Schedule of fees.

 An applicant for a license, certificate or service shall submit a payment at the time of the request under the following fee schedule:

Veterinarian fees for services:

Application to original, reactivated, reissued or
 reciprocal license....................$35

Application for continuing education program

Verification of licensure....................$15

Certification of scores or hours....................$25

Temporary permit....................$35

Late renewal fee per month or part of month....................$5

Veterinarian biennial renewal:

Biennial renewal fee for biennial period
 December 1, 2010—November 30, 2012.................... $345

Biennial renewal fee for biennial period
 December 1, 2012—November 30, 2014 ....................$360

Veterinary technician fees for services:

Application for certification....................$35

Application for continuing education program

Verification of certification....................$15

Certification of scores or hours....................$25

Late renewal fee per month or part of month....................$5

Veterinary technician biennial renewal:

Biennial renewal fee for biennial period
 December 1, 2010—November 30, 2012 ....................$85

Biennial renewal fee for biennial period
 December 1, 2012—November 30, 2014 ....................$100

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 10-1520. Filed for public inspection August 20, 2010, 9:00 a.m.]

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