TITLE 22. EXAMINING BOARDS

PART 14. TEXAS OPTOMETRY BOARD

CHAPTER 273. GENERAL RULES

22 TAC §273.10

The Texas Optometry Board proposes amendments to 22 TAC §273.10 to implement Senate Bill 37, 86th Legislature, Regular Session, prohibiting disciplinary action by a licensing agency because of a default on a student loan or a breach of a student loan repayment contract or scholarship contract.

Chris Kloeris, executive director of the Texas Optometry Board, estimates that for the first five-year period the amendments are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications for state or local government as a result of enforcing or administering the amendments. Mr. Kloeris has also determined that for each of the first five years the amendments are in effect, the public benefit anticipated is that licensees will be able to practice without regard to a default on a student loan.

The amendments are necessary to implement the above described legislation and are necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of this state. The amendments apply to designated licensed optometrists, the individuals affected by this rule. It is predicted that there will be no economic costs for licensees subject to the amendments.

ECONOMIC IMPACT STATEMENT AND REGULATORY FLEXIBILITY ANALYSIS ON SMALL BUSINESSES AND RURAL COMMUNITIES

The agency licenses approximately 4,250 optometrists affected by the rule amendments. A significant majority of licensees own or work in one or more of the 1,000 to 3,000 optometric practices which meet the definition of a small business. Some of these practices meet the definition of a micro business. Some of these practices are in rural communities. The agency does not license these practices; it only licenses individual optometrists. The projected economic impact of this new rule on the small businesses and rural communities is projected to be neutral based on the analysis in the preceding paragraph.

ENVIRONMENT AND TAKINGS IMPACT ASSESSMENT

The agency has determined that this proposal is not a "major environmental rule" as defined by Texas Government Code §2001.0225. This proposal is not specifically intended to protect the environment or reduce risks to human health from environmental exposure. The agency has determined that the proposed rule does not restrict or limit an owner's right to his or her property that would otherwise exist in the absence of government action, and therefore does not constitute a taking under Texas Government Code §2007.043.

GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT STATEMENT

During the first five years that the proposed rule will be in effect, it is anticipated that the proposed rule will not create or eliminate a government program. Further, implementation of the proposed amendments will not require the creation of new employee position or the elimination of an existing employee position; implementation of the proposed amendments will not require an increase or decrease in future legislative appropriations to the agency; and the proposed amendments will not require an increase or decrease in fees paid to the agency. The proposed amendments do not create a new regulation. The proposed amendments do not change the number of individuals subject to the rule, and the effect on the state's economy is neutral.

Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Chris Kloeris, Executive Director, Texas Optometry Board, 333 Guadalupe Street, Suite 2-420, Austin, Texas 78701-3942. The deadline for furnishing comments is thirty days after publication in the Texas Register.

The amendment and new rule are proposed under the Texas Optometry Act, Texas Occupations Code, §351.151 and Senate Bill 37, 86th Legislature, Regular Session.

The Texas Optometry Board interprets §351.151 as authorizing the adoption of procedural and substantive rules for the regulation of the optometric profession. The agency interprets Senate Bill 37 (Texas Occupations Code §56.003) to prohibit disciplinary action against a licensee because of a default on a student loan or a breach of a student loan repayment contract or scholarship contract.

No other sections are affected by the amendments.

§73.10.Licensee Compliance with Payment Obligations.

[(a) Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation]

[(1) If, after a hearing or an opportunity for hearing, the board determines that a licensee is in default on a loan guaranteed by the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation, the license shall not be renewed unless the licensee presents a certificate issued by the corporation certifying that:

[(A) the licensee has entered into a repayment agreement on the defaulted loan; or

[(B) the licensee is not in default on a loan guaranteed by the corporation.]

[(2) If, after a hearing or an opportunity for hearing, the board determines that a licensee has defaulted on a repayment agreement with the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation, the license shall not be renewed unless the licensee presents a certificate issued by the corporation certifying that:

[(A) the licensee has entered into another repayment agreement on the defaulted loan; or

[(B) the licensee is not in default on a loan guaranteed by the corporation or on a repayment agreement.]

[(b)] Child support payments; Chapter 232 of the Texas Family Code.

(1) An application for license renewal will not be accepted if a child support agency provides the board with notice that a licensee has failed to pay child support for six months or more and requests that the board not accept the application.

(2) The application will be considered once the board receives notice from the child support agency that the licensee is in compliance with the requirements of Chapter 232 of the Texas Family Code.

(3) The board may charge the licensee a fee in an amount sufficient to recover the administrative costs incurred by the board under this chapter.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the proposal and found it to be within the state agency's legal authority to adopt.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on June 8, 2020.

TRD-202002314

Chris Kloeris

Executive Director

Texas Optometry Board

Earliest possible date of adoption: July 26, 2020

For further information, please call: (512) 305-8500