STATE BOARD OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
[49 PA. CODE CH. 31]
Biennial Renewal Fees
[36 Pa.B. 578]
The State Board of Veterinary Medicine (Board) proposes to amend § 31.41 (relating to schedule of fees) to read as set forth in Annex A. The proposed rulemaking would increase the biennial license renewal fee for veterinarians from $225 to $300 and would increase the biennial license renewal fee for certified veterinary technicians from $60 to $75.
The proposed rulemaking will be effective upon final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The new fees will take effect for the biennial period beginning December 1, 2006.
Section 13(a) of the Veterinary Medicine Practice Act (act) (63 P. S. § 485.13(a)) requires the Board to fix the fees for renewal of licenses and certificates by regulation. Section 13(b) of the act requires the Board to increase fees when revenues raised by fees, fines and civil penalties are not sufficient to meet expenditures.
Background and Need for the Proposed Rulemaking
The Board's current biennial license renewal fees were established by regulation and took effect for the December 1, 2000, biennial renewal period. The Board is required by law to support its operations from revenue it generates from fees, fines and civil penalties. The act mandates that the Board protect the public by adopting rules and regulations that govern the practice of veterinary medicine and administer and enforce the laws, rules and regulations that relate to the practice of veterinary medicine.
The Board raises virtually all its revenue through fees and the biennial license renewal fee is the most substantial revenue-generating fee of the fees charged by the Board. If the Board anticipates that its revenue will not meet its expenditures, the Board must increase its revenue.
At its March 17, 2005, Board meeting, the Offices of Revenue and Budget for the Department of State (Department) presented a summary of the Board's actual revenues and expenses for Fiscal Years (FY) 1999-2000 to FY 2002-2003 and projected revenues and expenses for FY 2005-2006 through FY 2010-2011.
At the close of FY 2003-2004, the Board's expenses exceeded its revenues by $36,890.59. The Budget Office estimates that deficits will continue to grow, with an anticipated FY 2007-2008 deficit of $79,890.59 and a FY 2009-2010, projected deficit of $182,890.59. The Budget Office anticipates that the proposed new fees will enable the Board to recapture the current deficit and meet its estimated expenditures through at least FY 2010-2011.
The Board, as with other licensing boards and commissions within the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (Bureau), budgets on the basis of the following categories: Administrative Costs, broken into Board Administration (Bureau-wide operating expenses such as printed forms, office supplies and interagency billings), Commissioner's Office (staff expenses) and Departmental Services (centralized support services such as the executive office, public information office, and legislative affairs office); Legal Costs, broken into Legal Office (staff expenses), Hearing Expenses (staff of hearing examiner's office and stenographer services) and Legislative and Regulatory Analysis (staff expenses); Enforcement and Investigation Costs, broken into Non-Travel (staff expenses) and Travel expenses; Professional Health Monitoring Program Expenses (staff expenses); and Board Member Expenses (travel to meetings and accommodations, when necessary).
The increases in the Board's biennial expenses occurred due to increases in costs of both Board services and Departmental expenses. The increases experienced by the Board itself are primarily in cost centers allocated to law enforcement costs and legal office costs. These increased expenditures are directly related to increases in the number of complaints filed, number of cases prosecuted and discipline imposed, the complexity of the cases, number of regulations promulgated and, finally, number of appeals taken to Commonwealth Court.
The increased expenses in the areas of law enforcement and legal office expenses have been the most significant, as indicated by the following.
Law Enforcement Expenses
Budgeted Expended FY 99-00 $99,500 $68,941 FY 00-01 $91,000 $99,403 FY 01-02 $96,000 $148,372 FY 02-03 $105,000 $175,556 FY 03-04 $170,000 $209,209.86 (projected)
Legal Office Expenses
Budgeted Expended FY 99-00, $85,500 $62,743 FY 00-01 $72,450 $101,404 FY 01-02 $95,000 $99,995 FY 02-03 $98,000 $114,844 FY 03-04 $135,000 $129,151 (projected)
An increased number of complaints have been filed with the Board. In the 4 years leading up to the last biennial renewal fee increase, the Board averaged 99.25 complaints filed per year. From 2000 through 2003, an average of 125.75 complaints were filed each year. Each complaint filed produces costs in law enforcement and in the complaints and prosecution divisions of the legal office. Of particular note are the expenses incurred in expert review of files involving practice issues. For those cases in which formal charges are filed, additional legal expenses are incurred through the legal counsel division and hearing examiner's office. In the 4-year period from 1996-1999, an average of 5.5 disciplinary sanctions were imposed each year, with an average of one serious sanction imposed each year. In the 4-year period from 2000-2003, an average of 17.5 disciplinary sanctions were imposed each year, with an average of four serious sanctions imposed. The increase in the number of serious sanctions imposed indicates an increase in the complexity of cases before the Board, as serious sanctions are likely to be imposed only in cases involving veterinary malpractice. Serious sanctions include active suspension or revocation.
Additionally, the Board incurred unprecedented legal expenses in defending Board actions in disciplinary matters on appellate review. Only one appeal was filed in 2002 and none were filed in 2003. By comparison, four appeals were filed in 2004, and two appeals have been filed thus far in 2005.
The Board's regulatory agenda has also generated additional costs in the legal counsel division and regulatory review division. One rulemaking became final in each year from 2001 to 2003. In 2004, two rulemakings became final. The Board currently has drafts of four rulemaking packages, which will likely be proposed in 2005.
Departmental expenses allocated in part to the Board included a one-time additional charge of $60,000 associated with its testing administration contract. In addition, during FY 2003-2004, additional costs were incurred as a result of one-time charges to the Department for personnel costs. This one time charge was split equitably within the Professional Licensure Augmentation Account and other related restricted accounts administered by the Bureau.
Description of Proposed Rulemaking
Based upon the previous expense and revenue estimates provided to the Board, the Board proposes to amend its fee schedule in § 31.41 to increase the fee for biennial renewal of licenses for veterinarians from $225 to $300 and increase the fee for veterinary technicians from $60 to $75. By this increase, the Board will recoup its deficit and offset the projected deficits.
The proposed rulemaking will increase the biennial renewal fee for veterinarians and veterinary technicians. A veterinarian will pay an additional $75 for biennial renewal. A veterinary technician will pay an additional $15 for biennial renewal. The proposed rulemaking should have no other fiscal impact on the private sector, the general public or political subdivisions.
The proposed rulemaking will require the Board to alter some of its forms to reflect the new biennial renewal fees; however, the proposed rulemaking should not create additional paperwork for the private sector.
The act requires that the Board monitors its revenue and cost on a fiscal year and biennial basis. Therefore, no sunset date has been assigned.
Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act, (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on January 26, 2006, the Board submitted a copy of this proposed rulemaking and a copy of a Regulatory Analysis Form to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and to the Chairpersons of the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee and the House Professional Licensure Committee. A copy of this material is available to the public upon request.
Under section 5(g) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC may convey any comments, recommendations or objections to the proposed rulemaking within 30 days of the close of the public comment period. The comments, recommendations or objections shall specify the regulatory review criteria which have not been met. The Regulatory Review Act specifies detailed procedures for review, prior to final publication of the rulemaking, by the Board, the General Assembly, and the Governor of comments, recommendations or objections raised.
Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, suggestions or objections regarding this proposed rulemaking to Robert Kline, Administrator, State Board of Veterinary Medicine, P. O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649 within 30 days following publication of this proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
BRIAN V. HARPSTER, V.M.D.,
Fiscal Note: 16A-5717. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 49. PROFESSIONAL AND VOCATIONAL STANDARDS
PART I. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Subpart A. PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL AFFAIRS
CHAPTER 31. STATE BOARD OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
§ 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:
* * * * *
Biennial renewal $ 300
* * * * *
[Animal health] Veterinary technicians:
* * * * *
Biennial renewal $ 75
* * * * *
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 06-183. Filed for public inspection February 3, 2006, 9:00 a.m.]
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