Commission Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter:  Mitch Lockwood

Action
Deer Breeder Proclamation
January 24, 2013

I.       Executive Summary:  This item seeks adoption of proposed amendments that would require all deer breeder reports and notifications to be reported via the department’s online reporting system (except for transfer permit activations, which may be reported online or by phone).

II.      Discussion:  Under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter L, the Commission is authorized to regulate the possession of deer held in captivity under a deer breeder’s permit.

The department’s online reporting system for permitted deer breeders is designed to (1) significantly reduce reporting errors, (2) provide for more efficient means of herd inventory reconciliation, and (3) make data more immediately available to department regulatory and enforcement personnel.  In May of 2010, the Commission authorized a reduced renewal fee for permittees who reported online, which has been effective at encouraging many deer breeders to report required data (e.g., births, deaths, transfers) via the online reporting system; however, the reports that are still being submitted as hard copy are problematic.  The data contained in hard-copy reports must be manually entered by staff, a task that diverts staff from performing other duties.  Additionally, hard-copy reports frequently contain erroneous information and/or omissions, which require substantial amounts of staff time to rectify.  Because online reporting cannot be successfully completed until all required information has been entered and reconciled by the system against existing historical user data, staff time spent on manual data entry/data reconciliation would virtually be eliminated if all reporting were required to be done online.

At the Work Session of the November 2012 Commission meeting, the Commission authorized staff to publish the proposed amendment in the Texas Register for public comment.  The proposed rules appeared in the December 21, 2012, issue of the Texas Register (37 TexReg 9858-9860).  A summary of public comment on the proposed rules will be presented at the time of the hearing.

III.    Recommendation:  Staff recommends that the commission adopt the proposed motion:

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts amendments to §§65.602, 65.603, 65.605, 65.608, and 65.610, concerning Deer Breeder Permits, and 53.14, concerning Deer Management and Removal Permits, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the December 21, 2012 issue of the Texas Register (37 TexReg 9858-9860).”

Attachments –

  1. Exhibit A – Proposed Deer Breeder Rules
  2. Exhibit B – Proposed Fee Rule

Commission Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit A

Deer Breeder Proclamation
Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.

         The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (the department) proposes amendments to §§65.602, 65.603, 65.605, 65.608, and 65.610, concerning Deer Breeder Permits. The proposed amendments, collectively, would require all permit applications, permit renewals, notifications, and reports be submitted to the department via the department’s Internet-based deer breeder application.

         Current rules allow for permit applications and renewals, reports, notifications, and similar required interactions with the department to be conducted either electronically or manually. In response to an increasing number of deer breeders and an increasing number of reporting errors, the department in 2005 created an Internet-based application for reporting and recordkeeping. Deer breeder permit holders are not currently required to use the Internet-based application, but they were offered an incentive do so in 2010 when the department implemented Parks and Wildlife Code, §43.369, as added by Senate Bill 1586 (2009) which required the department and the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) to develop a process for a shared database to include reporting data provided by deer breeders.  Section 43.369 also requires the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (the Commission) to provide incentives to deer breeders whose cooperation resulted in reduced costs and increased efficiencies. The Commission promulgated rules that provide for a fee reduction of 50% for deer breeder permittees who submitted at least 85% of the required reports and notifications via the Internet.  Specifically, the current deer breeder and deer breeder annual renewal fee is $400, but for deer breeder permittees who submit at least 85% of the required reports and notifications via the Internet, the fee is $200.  Increased utilization of the Internet-based application has resulted in increased efficiency in program administration; however, the department continues to receive numerous hard-copy reports that are laden with errors, requiring thousands of man hours to reconcile. Reconciliation of hard-copy reports is an arduous process that hampers the department’s ability to address the needs of compliant permittees in a timely fashion. On this basis, the department has concluded that making the use of the Internet-based application mandatory is warranted.  In a proposed amendment to §53.14 published elsewhere in this issue, the $400 annual fee is eliminated, since hard-copy reporting will be eliminated and all breeders will be paying the $200 annual fee.

         The online system is designed to (1) significantly reduce reporting errors, (2) provide for more efficient means of herd inventory reconciliation, and (3) make data more immediately available to department regulatory and enforcement personnel. Hard-copy reports, which are manually entered by staff, frequently contain erroneous information and/or omissions, which require substantial amounts of staff time to rectify. Because online reporting cannot be successfully completed until all required information has been entered and reconciled by the system against existing historical user data, staff time spent on manual data entry/data reconciliation would be significantly reduced and perhaps eliminated if all reporting were required to be completed online.

         The proposed amendments to §§65.602, concerning Permit Requirement and Permit Privileges; General Provisions; 65.603, concerning Application and Permit Issuance;  65.605, concerning Facility Holding Standards and Care of Deer; 65.608, concerning Annual Reports and Records; and 65.610, concerning Transfer of Deer, would make the changes necessary to require all reporting and notifications to be done via the department’s Internet-based application.

         The proposed amendment to §65.602 would retitle the section and add new subsection (c) to require all permit applications, permit renewals, notifications, reporting, and recordkeeping to be submitted via an Internet-based deer breeder application provided by the department, unless otherwise provided in the subchapter or in the permit conditions.  Although it is the department’s intent that all permit applications, permit renewals, notifications, reporting, and recordkeeping be submitted via the Internet application, the department also recognizes that there may be extenuating circumstances, such as a system application problem, that could require an alternative means of submittal.

         The proposed amendment to §65.603 would alter subsection (e) to remove language authorizing the submission of authorized agent and facility plan information by fax or mail and add language to subsection (e) to create validation mechanisms for the submission of that information via the deer breeder Internet application.

         The proposed amendments to §65.605 and §65.608 would remove language referring to paper forms supplied by the department.

         The proposed amendment to §65.610 would alter subsection (e)(3) to refer to the deer breeder Internet application, create a mechanism for the validation of submission of transport permit activation, and create an offense for any person to transport a deer under a transport permit unless the person also possesses a notification confirmation number issued by the department for that instance of transport. The proposed amendment does not eliminate the option for transfer permits to be activated by phone. Under Parks and Wildlife Code, §43.367, it is an offense for any person to violate a regulation of the commission promulgated under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter L.  The rule as currently worded requires notification to the department prior to the movement of deer under a transport permit. The proposed amendment creates a mechanism for the permittee to verify that the required notification took place. The proposed amendment to §65.610 also would alter subsection (e)(5) to remove references to paper forms and fax submissions.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Mitch Lockwood, Big Game Program Director, has determined that there may be fiscal implications to state government as a result of enforcement or administration of the rules for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect. Although the imposition of mandatory electronic submission of data will increase program efficiency, there will be a corresponding decrease in program revenue of $200 per facility associated with permittees who are currently not utilizing the department’s Internet-based application.  A deer breeder permit authorizes a person to operate one deer breeder facility. One person may hold several permits, but must submit a report and a renewal fee annually for each facility. Approximately 20% of all deer breeder’s facility reports were not received via the Internet-based application in Fiscal Year 2012. Permittees therefore paid the higher permitting fee of $400/year. Under current rule, a deer breeder who submits at least 85% of required reports and notifications electronically is entitled to a 50% reduction in the fee for permit renewal. In Fiscal Year 2012, the department’s Internet-based application was used to file reports for 1,053 facilities, and those permittees therefore received the discount. Under the amendments as proposed, all 1,313 current facilities would qualify for the discount, since use of the system would be mandatory.  As a result, 260 deer breeder facilities that currently do not qualify for the fee reduction would pay the lower $200 fee, which could create a $52,000 per year loss in revenue, assuming the number of permittees remains stable. The department believes, however, that the cost of revenue reduction will be approximately offset by increased efficiency, since existing staff will have additional time to devote to tasks other than data entry and records research.

         There will be no fiscal implications to other units of state or local government.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Lockwood also has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:
         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be increased convenience and economy for the regulated community and the ability of the department to use resultant efficiencies to address increasing workloads with current staff.

         (B) There could be adverse economic effects on persons required to comply with the rules as proposed. The proposed rules would require all permittees to ensure that the reporting and notification requirements of the subchapter are effected via the Internet. For persons who already own or have access to a computer or personal digital device and have Internet access, there is no adverse economic cost to comply with the proposed rules. For persons who do not possess a computer or other digital device that can access the Internet (such as a tablet or smart phone), compliance with proposed amendments would require the permittee to either use a public computer with Internet access, purchase or lease hardware and Internet access, or absorb the cost of hiring someone with the equipment and expertise to perform the required actions. Department research indicates that adequate hardware is widely available and can be purchased for approximately $200. Internet access is an additional charge that varies from approximately $15 to $100 per month, depending on the technology and carrier plan. The department has determined that the cost of hiring professional expertise to submit required information should not exceed a maximum of $90 per hour and probably would be much less, since the expertise required is minimal. Department data indicate that the highest volume of reporting and notification done by any permittee in the previous year consisted of approximately 459 reporting interactions with the department. The department estimates that this represents approximately 9.5 hours of consultant time, yielding a maximum annual expense for compliance of approximately $855.  As previously noted, in a proposed amendment to §53.14, concerning Deer Management and Removal Permits, published elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register, the $400 annual fee is eliminated because the proposed rules will eliminate manual reporting and all breeders will therefore qualify for a reduced permit/renewal fee of $200.  Because all permittees will receive a discount of 50% on the $400 annual fee for using the Internet-based reporting system, the department estimates that the cost of compliance for persons who purchase hardware and Internet access would be recovered in less than two years (approximately $400), and for persons who purchase consultant services, the cost of compliance would be approximately $855.

         (C) Under the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, the department considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that the proposed amendments could have an adverse economic impact on small businesses and micro-businesses. To ensure that the analysis captures every entity that might be affected, the department considers that most if not all deer breeders qualify as a small or micro-business. There are 1,265 deer breeders permitted by the department. The department notes that in a test exercise earlier this year, the department identified only one permittee who experienced difficulty accessing the department’s Internet-based system, and that person was eventually able to do so by visiting a public library.

         The proposed rules would require all permittees to submit required information to the department via the Internet. For persons who already own or have access to a computer or personal digital device (such as a tablet or smart phone) and have Internet access, there is no adverse economic cost to comply with the proposed rules. Permittees who do not already own or have access to a computer or other digital device with Internet access would have to ensure that the reporting and notification requirements of the subchapter are effected via the Internet. For persons who already own or have access to a computer or personal digital device and have Internet access, there is no adverse economic cost to comply with the proposed rules. For persons who do not possess a computer or other digital device that can access the Internet, compliance with proposed amendments would require the permittee to either access a public computer with Internet access, purchase or lease hardware and Internet access, or absorb the cost of hiring someone with the equipment and expertise to perform the required actions. Department research indicates that adequate hardware is widely available and can be purchased for approximately $200. Internet access is an additional charge that varies from approximately $15 to $100 per month, depending on the technology and carrier plan resulting in an estimated additional cost of between $380 and $1400 for the first year ($200, plus the monthly Internet provide costs of $15-$100/month), but a cost of $180 to $1200 a year for subsequent years consisting solely of the Internet provider costs.

         The department has determined that the cost of hiring professional expertise to submit required information should not exceed a maximum of $90 per hour and probably would be much less, since the expertise required is minimal. Department data indicate that the highest volume of reporting and notification done by any permittee in the previous year consisted of approximately 459 reporting incidents with the department. The department estimates that this represents approximately 9.5 hours of consultant time, yielding a maximum annual expense for compliance of approximately $855.

         However, a portion of these costs would be offset by the reduced permit fee.  As noted previously, the proposed amendment to §53.14 published elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register would eliminate the $400 permit issuance/renewal fee and all deer breeders will be paying the $200 annual fee. Because permittees who are currently submitting hard-copy documents will receive a discount of 50% on the current $400 annual fee for using the Internet-based reporting system, the department estimates that a portion of the cost of compliance for persons who purchase hardware and Internet access or engage the services of a consultant would be recovered over time.

         The department considered several alternatives to achieve the goals of the proposed amendments while reducing potential adverse impacts on small and micro-businesses and persons required to comply. The component of the proposed rules that constitutes an adverse economic impact to small and micro-businesses is the requirement to file all required reports and notifications via the Internet. One alternative the department considered was status quo. This alternative was rejected because one goal of the proposed amendments is to increase the efficiency with which the department administers the deer breeder program, given that additional manpower is not a viable option. The department concluded that requiring all reporting to be completed electronically would be the most effective means to accomplish that goal while reducing the adverse economic impacts to small and micro-businesses.

         The department also considered leaving reporting media optional but further reducing fees for those who report electronically. This alternative was rejected because the department has determined that the investment in staff time to continue processing and reconciling hard-copy documents by manual methods in even limited amounts is not justifiable.

         The department also considered imposing an increased fee for persons who desire to continue to file reports and notifications manually. This alternative was rejected because it represents a continuing expense to the department that is unjustifiable in light of the small number of permittees that would be affected, and because department staff would still be required to process and reconcile the reporting information manually.

         The department also considered the option of requiring permittees who desire to continue to file reports and notifications manually to attend a department-sponsored training course with the goal of improving the timeliness and quality of manual reporting. This alternative was rejected because it represents a continuing expense to the department that is unjustifiable in light of the small number of permittees that would be affected, and because department staff would still be required to process and reconcile the reporting information manually.

         (D) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rule as proposed will not impact local economies.

         (E) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rule.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted to Mitch Lockwood, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (830) 792-9677 (e-mail: mitch.lockwood@tpwd.state.tx.us).

5. Statutory Authority.

         The rules are proposed under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, §11.027(b) which authorizes the department to establish fees to cover costs associated with the review of applications for permits required by the Park and Wildlife Code, §43.357, which authorizes the commission to make rules governing the possession of breeder deer; permit applications and fees; reporting requirements; procedures and requirements for the purchase, transfer, sale, or shipment of breeder deer; and §43.359, which requires a deer breeder to maintain an accurate and legible record of all breeder deer acquired, purchased, propagated, sold, transferred, or disposed of and any other information required by the department, and to report that information to the department as the commission by rule may require.

         The proposed rules affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapters 11 and 43.

6. Text.

         §65.602. Permit Requirement and Permit Privileges; General Provisions.

                 (a) – (b) (No change.)

                 (c) Unless specifically provided otherwise in this subchapter or the conditions of permit, all permit applications, permit renewals, notifications, reporting, and recordkeeping required by this subchapter shall be submitted electronically via the department’s Internet-based deer breeder application.

         §65.603. Application and Permit Issuance.

                 (a) – (d) (No change.)

                 (e) An authorized agent may be added to or deleted from a permit at any time by notifying[faxing or mailing an agent amendment form to] the department. No person added to a permit under this subsection shall participate in any activity governed by a permit unless that person is listed on an amended permit issued by the department[until the department has received the agent amendment form].

                 (f) — (j) (No change.)

         §65.605. Holding Facility Standards and Care of Deer.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) Immediately upon discovering the escape of breeder deer from a facility, a[A] permittee shall notify the department [immediately upon discovering the escape breeder deer from a facility. Such notice shall be made on a form provided by the department.] The permittee shall have ten days from the date of such report to capture only those breeder deer that are marked in accordance with Parks and Wildlife Code, §43.3561. All recaptured breeder deer must be returned to the facility from which the breeder deer escaped. If after ten days the permittee is unable to capture escaped breeder deer that have been reported in accordance with this subsection, the department may grant an additional five-day period for capture efforts to continue, contingent upon the permittee proving to the department’s satisfaction that reasonable efforts were made to effect the capture during the first ten-day period.

         §65.608. Annual Reports and Records.

                 (a) Each deer breeder shall file a legible, completed annual report [on a form supplied or approved by the department] by not later than May 15 of each year.

                 (b) – (c) (No change.)

         §65.610. Transfer of Deer.

                 (a) General requirement. No person may remove breeder deer from or accept breeder deer into a permitted facility unless a valid transfer permit [on a form provided by the department] has been activated as provided in this section.

                 (b) – (d) (No change.)

                 (e) Transfer permit.

                         (1) – (2) (No change.)

                         (3) A transfer permit is activated only by:

                                  (A) notifying the Law Enforcement Communications Center in Austin by phone [prior to the transport of any breeder deer]; or

                                  (B) utilizing the department’s Internet-based deer breeder application[web-based activation mechanism prior to the transport of any breeder deer].

                                  (C) It is an offense for any person to transport a deer under a transport permit unless the person also possesses a confirmation number issued by the department indicating receipt of the notification for that instance of transport.

                         (4) (No change.)

                         (5) Not later than 48 hours following the completion of all activities under a transfer permit, the permit shall be[:]

                                  [(A) legibly completed and faxed to the Wildlife Division in Austin by the person designated on the permit as the party responsible for notification of the department; or]

                                  [(B)] completed and submitted to the department[using the department’s web-based permit-completion mechanism].

                         (6) (No change.)

                 (f) (No change.)

         This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

        Issued in Austin, Texas, on


Commission Agenda Item No. 7
Exhibit B

Deer Breeder Permit Fees

Proposal Preamble

1. Introduction.
        The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes an amendment to §53.14, concerning Deer Management and Removal Permits. The proposed amendment would reduce the fee for deer breeder permits and renewals, from $400 to $200. In proposed amendments to §§65.602, 65.603, 65.605, 65.608, and 65.610 published elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register, the department proposes to mandate that all deer breeders submit required reports and notifications via an Internet-based system.

        The current fee for a deer breeder permit or renewal is $400; however, the rules also provide for a reduced fee of $200 for deer breeders who submit at least 85% of specified reports and permit activations via the department’s Internet-based system. If the proposed amendments to Chapter 65, Subchapter T are adopted, all deer breeders will qualify for the reduced permit/renewal fee, since all reporting and notification will be required to be submitted via the Internet. Therefore, the practical effect of requiring all reporting to be done via the Internet is to reduce the permit/renewal fee to $200.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Mitch Lockwood, Big Game Program Director, has determined that there may be fiscal implications to state government as a result of enforcement or administration of the rules for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect. Although the imposition of mandatory electronic submission of data will increase program efficiency, there will be a corresponding decrease in program revenue of $200 per facility associated with permittees who are currently not utilizing the department’s Internet-based application.  A deer breeder permit authorizes a person to operate one deer breeder facility. One person may hold several permits, but must submit a report and a renewal fee annually for each facility. Approximately 20% of all deer breeder’s facility reports were not received via the Internet-based application in Fiscal Year 2012. Permittees therefore paid the higher permitting fee of $400/year. Under current rule, a deer breeder who submits at least 85% of required reports and notifications electronically is entitled to a 50% reduction in the fee for permit renewal. In Fiscal Year 2012, the department’s Internet-based application was used to file reports for 1,053 facilities, and those permittees therefore received the discount. Under the amendments as proposed, all 1,313 current facilities would qualify for the discount, since use of the system would be mandatory.  As a result, 260 deer breeder facilities that currently do not qualify for the fee reduction would pay the lower $200 fee, which could create a $52,000 per year loss in revenue, assuming the number of permittees remains stable. The department believes, however, that the cost of revenue reduction will be approximately offset by increased efficiency, since existing staff will have additional time to devote to tasks other than data entry and records research.

         There will be no fiscal implications to other units of state or local government.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Lockwood also has determined that for each of the first five years the rule as proposed is in effect:

         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rule as proposed will be increased convenience and economy for the regulated community and the ability of the department to use resultant efficiencies to address increasing workloads with current staff.

         (B) The proposed amendment does not impose a new fee for deer breeder permits and renewals, it simply changes the amount of the fee that is required by §65.603, concerning Application and Permit Issuance. As noted earlier, the proposed amendment to create that requirement is published elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register. The analysis of economic impacts to persons required to comply, small businesses, and microbusinesses from that proposal is reproduced here for convenience.

         There could be adverse economic effects on persons required to comply with the proposed amendments to §§65.602, 65.603, 65.605, 65.608, and 65.610, published elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register.   Those amendments would collectively require all deer breeder permittees to ensure that the reporting and notification requirements of Chapter 65, Subchapter T, are effected via the Internet. For persons who already own or have access to a computer or personal digital device and have Internet access, there is no adverse economic cost to comply with the proposed rules. For persons who do not possess a computer or other data device that can access the Internet (such as a tablet or smart phone), compliance with proposed amendments would require the permittee to either use a public computer with Internet access, purchase or lease hardware and Internet access, or to absorb the cost of hiring someone with the equipment and expertise to perform the required actions. Department research indicates that adequate hardware is widely available and can be purchased for approximately $200. Internet access is an additional charge that varies from approximately $15 to $100 per month, depending on the technology and carrier plan. The department has determined that the cost of hiring professional expertise to submit required information should not exceed a maximum of $90 per hour and probably would be much less, since the expertise required is minimal. Department data indicate that the highest volume of reporting and notification done by any permittee in the previous year consisted of approximately 459 reporting interactions with the department. The department estimates that this represents approximately 9.5 hours of consultant time, yielding a maximum annual expense for compliance of approximately $855.  Because all permittees will receive a discount of 50% on the $400 annual fee for using the Internet-based reporting system, the department estimates that the cost of compliance for persons who purchase hardware and Internet access would be recovered in less than two years (approximately $400), and for persons who purchase consultant services, the cost of compliance would be approximately $855.

         Under the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, the department considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that the proposed amendments to §§65.602, 65.603, 65.605, 65.608, and 65.610, published elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register, could have an adverse economic impact on small businesses and micro-businesses. To ensure that the analysis captures every entity that might be affected, the department considers that most if not all deer breeders qualify as a small or micro-business. There are 1,265 deer breeders permitted by the department. The department notes that in a test exercise earlier this year, the department identified only one permittee who experienced difficulty accessing the department’s Internet-based system, and that person was eventually able to do so by visiting a public library.

         The proposed amendments to §§65.602, 65.603, 65.605, 65.608, and 65.610, published elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register would require all permittees to submit required information to the department via the Internet. For persons who already own or have access to a computer or personal digital device (such as a tablet or smart phone) and have Internet access, there is no adverse economic cost to comply with the proposed rules. Permittees who do not already own or have access to a computer or other digital device with Internet access would have to ensure that the reporting and notification requirements of the subchapter are effected via the Internet. For persons who already own or have access to a computer or personal digital device and have Internet access, there is no adverse economic cost to comply with the proposed rules. For persons who do not possess a computer or other digital device that can access the Internet, compliance with proposed amendments would require the permittee to either access a public computer with Internet access, purchase or lease hardware and Internet access, or to absorb the cost of hiring someone with the equipment and expertise to perform the required actions. Department research indicates that adequate hardware is widely available and can be purchased for approximately $200. Internet access is an additional charge that varies from approximately $15 to $100 per month, depending on the technology and carrier plan resulting in an estimated additional cost of between $380 and $1400 for the first year ($200, plus the monthly Internet provide costs of $15-$100/month), but a cost of $180 to $1200 a year for subsequent years consisting solely of the Internet provider costs.

         The department has determined that the cost of hiring professional expertise to submit required information should not exceed a maximum of $90 per hour and probably would be much less, since the expertise required is minimal. Department data indicate that the highest volume of reporting and notification done by any permittee in the previous year consisted of approximately 459 reporting incidents with the department. The department estimates that this represents approximately 9.5 hours of consultant time, yielding a maximum annual expense for compliance of approximately $855.

         However, a portion of these costs would be offset by the reduced permit fee. Because permittees who are currently submitting hard-copy documents will receive a discount of 50% on the current $400 annual fee for using the Internet-based reporting system, the department estimates that a portion of the cost of compliance for persons who purchase hardware and Internet access or engage the services of a consultant would be recovered over time.

         The department considered several alternatives to achieve the goals of the proposed amendments while reducing potential adverse impacts on small and micro-businesses and persons required to comply. The component of the proposed rules that constitutes an adverse economic impact to small and micro-businesses is the requirement to file all required reports and notifications via the Internet. One alternative the department considered was status quo. This alternative was rejected because one goal of the proposed amendments is to increase the efficiency with which the department administers the deer breeder program, given that additional manpower is not a viable option. The department concluded that requiring all reporting to be completed electronically would be the most effective means to accomplish that goal while reducing the adverse economic impacts to small and micro-businesses.

         The department also considered leaving reporting media optional but further reducing fees for those who report electronically. This alternative was rejected because the department has determined that the investment in staff time to continue processing and reconciling hard-copy documents by manual methods in even limited amounts is not justifiable.

         The department also considered imposing an increased fee for persons who desire to continue to file reports and notifications manually. This alternative was rejected because it represents a continuing expense to the department that is unjustifiable in light of the small number of permittees that would be affected, and because department staff would still be required to process and reconcile the reporting information manually.

         The department also considered the option of requiring permittees who desire to continue to file reports and notifications manually to attend a department-sponsored training course with the goal of improving the timeliness and quality of manual reporting. This alternative was rejected because it represents a continuing expense to the department that is unjustifiable in light of the small number of permittees that would be affected, and because department staff would still be required to process and reconcile the reporting information manually.

         (C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rule as proposed will not impact local economies.

         (D) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rule.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Mitch Lockwood, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (830) 792-9677 (e-mail: mitch.lockwood@tpwd.state.tx.us).

5. Statutory Authority.

         The amendment is proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, §43.357, which authorizes the commission to promulgate rules governing deer breeder permits, including fees and reporting requirements.

         The proposed amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43.

6. Text.

         §53.14. Deer Management and Removal Permits.

                 (a) Deer breeding and related permits.

                         [(1)] Deer breeder’s and deer breeder’s renewal — $200[$400; and]

                         [(2) Deer breeder’s renewal if qualified for reduced fee for electronic record submission-$200].

                 (b) – (d) (No change.)

         This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

         Issued in Austin, Texas, on


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