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PROPOSED RULEMAKING

STATE REGISTRATION BOARD FOR PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS, LAND SURVEYORS AND GEOLOGISTS

[ 49 PA. CODE CH. 37 ]

Renewal Fee

[45 Pa.B. 2368]
[Saturday, May 16, 2015]

 The State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists (Board) proposes to amend § 37.17 (relating to schedule of fees) to read as set forth in Annex A.

Effective Date

 This proposed rulemaking will be effective upon final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. It is anticipated that the increased biennial renewal fees will be implemented with the September 30, 2017, biennial renewal.

Statutory Authority

 Section 9(a) of the Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law (act) (63 P. S. § 156(a)) 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 expenditures over a 2-year period.

Background and Need for the Proposed Rulemaking

 Under section 9 of the act, the Board is required by law to support its operations from the revenue it generates from fees, fines and civil penalties. In addition, the act provides that the Board shall increase fees if the revenue raised by fees, fines and civil penalties is not sufficient to meet expenditures over a 2-year period. The Board raises the majority of its revenue through biennial renewal fees. A small percentage of its revenue comes from other fees, fines and civil penalties. If fees are inadequate to meet the minimum enforcement efforts required, section 9(b) of the act requires the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, after consultation with the Board, to increase the fees so that adequate revenues are raised to meet the required enforcement effort.

 At the Board's meeting on March 12, 2014, representatives from the Department of State's Bureau of Finance and Operations (BFO) presented a summary of the Board's actual revenue and expenses for Fiscal Year (FY) 2006-2007 through FY 2012-2013 and projected revenue and expenses through FY 2026-2027. At the end of FY 2012-2013 (a nonrenewal year), the Board accrued a deficit of approximately $660,000. The BFO projects that at the end of FY 2013-2014 (a renewal year), the Board's deficit will be approximately $226,000 and that by the end of FY 2014-2015 (a nonrenewal year), the deficit will grow to approximately $1.383 million. The BFO further projects that if the renewal fee is not increased, by the end of FY 2016-2017 (a nonrenewal year) the deficit will swell to approximately $2.27 million and will continue to grow thereafter. However, if the renewal fee are increased to $125 beginning with renewals in 2017, the BFO projects that the Board will have a positive balance of $370,000 at the end of FY 2017-2018 (a renewal year) and a balance of $1.626 million at the end of FY 2019-2020 (a renewal year).

 During FYs 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 (roughly corresponding to the 2011-2013 biennial renewal period), the Board's revenue was $2,020,257, and its expenses were $2,585,258, for an operating deficit of $565,000. During FYs 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, the BFO projects revenue of $1.981 million and expenses of $2.704 million, for an operating deficit of $723,000. Without an increase in the renewal fee, these operating deficits will continue to grow due to ever-increasing expenses of operating the Board and its required enforcement efforts.

 As a result, the Board voted at its March 12, 2014, meeting to increase biennial renewal fees from $50 to $100 to read as proposed in Annex A. With approximately 31,750 active licensees, this fee will raise $3.175 million during each biennial renewal period. The Board believes that this fee will be adequate to cover operating expenses through at least the 2021-2023 biennial renewal period and, together with application fees and revenue from civil penalties, will be adequate to erase the overall deficit by the 2019-2021 biennium and continue a positive balance through FY 2026-2027.

Description of the Proposed Amendment

 The proposed rulemaking would amend § 37.17 to increase the biennial renewal fees for professional engineers, land surveyors and geologists from $50 to $100.

Fiscal Impact and Paperwork Requirements

 The proposed rulemaking will increase the biennial renewal fees for licensees of the Board. There are currently approximately 27,550 licensed professional engineers, 1,975 professional land surveyors and 2,225 licensed professional geologists, for a total of approximately 31,750 licensees who will be required to pay more to renew their licenses when they expire in 2015 and thereafter. The vast majority of licensees are considered to be working for small businesses. They will be impacted because their license fees will increase. The proposed rulemaking should not have other fiscal impact on the private sector, the general public or political subdivisions of this Commonwealth.

 The proposed rulemaking will require the Board to alter some of its forms to reflect the new fees. However, the proposed rulemaking will not create additional paperwork for the regulated community or the private sector.

Sunset Date

 The Board continuously monitors the effectiveness of 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 May 4, 2015, 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 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 comments, recommendations or objections to the proposed rulemaking within 30 days of the close of the public comment period. The comments, recommendations or objections must 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.

Public Comment

 Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, suggestions or objections regarding this proposed rulemaking to the Regulatory Unit Counsel, Department of State, State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists, P. O. Box 2649, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649, RA-STRegulatoryCounsel@pa.gov within 30 days following publication of this proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Reference No. 16A-4713 (renewal fee) when submitting comments.

MICHAEL F. BRINKASH, PLS, 
President

Fiscal Note: 16A-4713. No fiscal impact. The fee increase is necessary to offset costs of the Board. (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A

TITLE 49. PROFESSIONAL AND VOCATIONAL STANDARDS

PART I. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Subpart A. PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL AFFAIRS

CHAPTER 37. STATE REGISTRATION BOARD FOR PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS, LAND SURVEYORS AND GEOLOGISTS

QUALIFICATIONS FOR LICENSURE

§ 37.17. Schedule of fees.

 (a) Renewal fee. The Board will charge the following renewal fee:

 Biennial renewal of registration
[$50] $100

*  *  *  *  *

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 15-910. Filed for public inspection May 15, 2015, 9:00 a.m.]



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