TITLE 43. TRANSPORTATION

PART 1. TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

CHAPTER 1. MANAGEMENT

SUBCHAPTER F. ADVISORY COMMITTEES

The Texas Department of Transportation (department) adopts amendments to §1.82, Statutory Advisory Committee Operations and Procedures, §1.85, Department Advisory Committees, §1.86, Corridor Advisory Committees, and §1.87, Corridor Segment Advisory Committees, the repeal of §1.88, Interim Report, and a new §1.88, Duration of Advisory Committees. The amendments to §§1.82, 1.85-1.87, the repeal of §1.88, and new §1.88 are adopted without changes to the proposed text as published in the September 13, 2019, issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 5038) and will not be republished.

EXPLANATION OF ADOPTED AMENDMENTS

Several rules currently provide, in accordance with Government Code, §2110.008, that each of the Texas Transportation Commission's (commission) or department's advisory committees created by statute or by the commission or department is abolished on December 31, 2019. The amendments are the result of the commission's review of the need to continue the existence of those advisory committees. The amendments remove the existing sunset provisions and combine the substance of those provisions into one section for clarity and ease of understanding. The commission recognizes that the continuation of a few existing advisory committees is necessary for improved communication between the department and the public and the amendments extend the duration of specified advisory committees for that purpose.

Amendments to §1.82, Statutory Advisory Committee Operations and Procedures, remove subsection (i) of that section, relating to the duration of advisory committees created by statute. The substance of that subsection is being combined with the sunset provisions of other advisory committees in new §1.88, Duration of Advisory Committees.

Amendments to §1.85, Department Advisory Committees, remove subsection (c) of that section, relating to the duration of advisory committees created by the commission or the department, and redesignate existing subsection (d) as subsection (c). The substance of current subsection (c) is being combined with the sunset provisions of other advisory committees in new §1.88, Duration of Advisory Committees.

Amendments to §1.86, Corridor Advisory Committees, remove subsection (e) of that section, relating to the duration of corridor advisory committees. The substance of current subsection (e) is being combined with the sunset provisions of other advisory committees in new §1.88, Duration of Advisory Committees.

Amendments to §1.87, Corridor Segment Advisory Committees, provide clarity relating to the composition of a corridor segment advisory committee. Subsection (b) provides the method for the commission to select the members of an advisory committee. The addition of the word "may" in the subsection clarifies that an entity listed in the subsection is not required to participate on an advisory committee. The amendments also remove subsection (e) of the section, relating to the duration of corridor segment advisory committees. The substance of that subsection is being combined with the sunset provisions of other advisory committees in new §1.88, Duration of Advisory Committees.

Section 1.88, Interim Report, is being repealed because its provisions have been executed. That section is being replaced by new §1.88, Duration of Advisory Committees. The new section combines into one section the sunset provisions for advisory committees formerly in other sections in Chapter 1, Subchapter F. The new section continues the current condition that all advisory committees are abolished on December 31, 2019, except for those listed in subsection (b) or described by subsection (b), (c), or (d). New subsection (c) relates to corridor segment advisory committees and restates the substance of former §1.87(e). New subsection (d) continues the existence of the I-69 Corridor Advisory Committee until December 31, 2020. New subsection (e) relates to the Ports-to-Plains Advisory Committee and segment committees for geographic segments along the Ports-to-Plains Corridor established in accordance with H.B. No. 1079, 86th Legislature, Regular Session, 2019 and abolishes the segment committees on October 31, 2020, and the Ports-to-Plains Advisory Committee on August 31, 2021.

COMMENTS

No comments on the proposed amendments, repeal, and new section were received.

43 TAC §§1.82, 1.85 - 1.88

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments and new rule are adopted under Transportation Code, §201.101, which provides the commission with the authority to establish rules for the conduct of the work of the department, and more specifically, Transportation Code, §201.117, which provides the commission with the authority to establish, as it considers necessary, advisory committees on any of the matters under its jurisdiction, and Government Code, §2110.008, which provides that a state agency by rule may designate the date on which an advisory committee will automatically be abolished.

CROSS REFERENCE TO STATUTE

Government Code, Chapter 2110, and Transportation Code, §§55.006 and 201.117.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on November 14, 2019.

TRD-201904240

Becky Blewett

Deputy General Counsel

Texas Department of Transportation

Effective date: December 4, 2019

Proposal publication date: September 13, 2019

For further information, please call: (512) 463-8630


43 TAC §1.88

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The repeal is adopted under Transportation Code, §201.101, which provides the commission with the authority to establish rules for the conduct of the work of the department, and more specifically, Transportation Code, §201.117, which provides the commission with the authority to establish, as it considers necessary, advisory committees on any of the matters under its jurisdiction, and Government Code, §2110.008, which provides that a state agency by rule may designate the date on which an advisory committee will automatically be abolished.

CROSS REFERENCE TO STATUTE

Government Code, Chapter 2110, and Transportation Code, §§55.006 and 201.117.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on November 14, 2019.

TRD-201904239

Becky Blewett

Deputy General Counsel

Texas Department of Transportation

Effective date: December 4, 2019

Proposal publication date: September 13, 2019

For further information, please call: (512) 463-8630


43 TAC §1.90

The Texas Department of Transportation (department) adopts a new §1.90, Advisory Committees for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor. The new §1.90 is adopted without changes to the proposed text as published in the September 13, 2019, issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 5043) and will not be republished.

EXPLANATION OF ADOPTED AMENDMENTS

H.B. No. 1079, Acts of the 86th Legislature, Regular Session, 2019, (HB 1079) requires the Texas Department of Transportation (department) to establish a Ports-to-Plains Advisory Committee to assist the department in conducting a comprehensive study of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in accordance with that Act. HB 1079 establishes the composition, purpose, and tasks of the advisory committee and provides requirements for its meetings and the manner in which the advisory committee will report to the department.

Further, HB 1079 requires the department to designate geographic segments along the Ports-to-Plains Corridor and to work with the Ports-to-Plains Advisory Committee to establish segment committees for each of those segments. HB 1079 establishes the purpose and tasks of the segment committees and provides guidelines for a segment committee's composition and meetings and the manner in which each segment committee will report to the advisory committee and the department.

Government Code, Chapter 2110, provides requirements generally applicable to state advisory committees, whether the committees are created by statute or by a state agency. Section 2110.005 requires a state agency to adopt rules that state the purpose and tasks of an advisory committee and that describe the manner in which the committee will report to the agency. Section 2110.008 authorizes a state agency to determine the period during which an advisory committee operates.

New §1.90, Advisory Committees for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor, provides the information required by Government Code, Chapter 2110, for the Ports-to-Plains Advisory Committee and segment committees for geographic segments along the Ports-to-Plains Corridor. The section sets out the purpose, tasks, and reporting requirements for the Ports-to-Plains Advisory Committee and segment committees, and provides the sunset dates for the committees.

COMMENTS

No comments on the proposed new rule were received.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The new rule is adopted under Transportation Code, §201.101, which provides the Texas Transportation Commission (commission) with the authority to establish rules for the conduct of the work of the department, and more specifically, Transportation Code, §201.117, which provides the commission with the authority to establish, as it considers necessary, advisory committees on any of the matters under its jurisdiction, Government Code, §2110.005, which requires a state agency by rule to state the purpose and tasks of an advisory committee and to describe the manner in which the committee will report to the agency, and Government Code, §2110.008, which provides that a state agency by rule may designate the date on which an advisory committee will automatically be abolished.

CROSS REFERENCE TO STATUTE

Government Code, Chapter 2110, Transportation Code, §201.117, and H.B. No. 1079, Acts of the 86th Legislature, Regular Session, 2019.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on November 14, 2019.

TRD-201904237

Becky Blewett

Deputy General Counsel

Texas Department of Transportation

Effective date: December 4, 2019

Proposal publication date: September 13, 2019

For further information, please call: (512) 463-8630


CHAPTER 15. FINANCING AND CONSTRUCTION OF TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS

SUBCHAPTER E. FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL PARTICIPATION

43 TAC §15.51, §15.55

The Texas Department of Transportation (department) adopts amendments to §15.51 and §15.55, concerning Federal, State, and Local Participation. The amendments to §15.51 and §15.55 are adopted without changes to the proposed text as published in the September 13, 2019, issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 5045) and will not be republished.

EXPLANATION OF ADOPTED AMENDMENTS

The 75th Texas Legislature (1997) created the Economically Disadvantaged Counties Program (program) and gave the Texas Transportation Commission (commission) the authority to adjust minimum local match requirements for eligible local governments. Section 222.053, Transportation Code, previously defined an economically disadvantaged county as a county that has, in comparison to other counties in the state, below average per capita taxable property value, below average per capita income, and above average unemployment. The department identified the counties that met those criteria using data obtained from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts on an annual basis. Those counties were eligible for the program during the subsequent fiscal year.

Senate Bill 2168, 86th Legislature, Regular Session, amended Section 222.053, Transportation Code, to expand the criteria used in determining a county's eligibility to be classified as economically disadvantaged. Senate Bill 2168 was signed June 10, 2019, and effective immediately. Now, a county is considered to be an economically disadvantaged county even if it does not currently meet the standard criteria, as long as it met the standard criteria within any one of the past six years and has been included in no less than five federally declared disasters within the same time period. If a county meets these requirements, the adjustment to the local match shall be equivalent to the highest adjustment rate set in the last year the county was eligible for the program.

Amendments to §15.51, Definitions, modify the definition of the term "economically disadvantaged county" by directly referencing the relevant statutory provisions. The amendments, without substantive change, also renumber the definitions of "right of way acquisition" and "right of way costs."

Amendments to §15.55, Construction Cost Participation, update the language related to local match adjustments to align the rule with the statutory provisions as amended. Certain subsections have been renumbered accordingly.

COMMENTS

No comments on the proposed amendments were received.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The amendments are adopted under Transportation Code, §201.101, which provides the commission with the authority to establish rules for the conduct of the work of the department, and more specifically, Transportation Code, §222.053, which authorizes the commission to adjust the minimum local matching funds requirement for highway projects in economically disadvantaged counties.

CROSS REFERENCE TO STATUTES IMPLEMENTED BY THIS RULEMAKING

Transportation Code, §222.053.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on November 14, 2019.

TRD-201904238

Becky Blewett

Deputy General Counsel

Texas Department of Transportation

Effective date: December 4, 2019

Proposal publication date: September 13, 2019

For further information, please call: (512) 463-8630


PART 10. TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES

CHAPTER 217. VEHICLE TITLES AND REGISTRATION

SUBCHAPTER C. REGISTRATION AND TITLE SYSTEMS

43 TAC §217.75

INTRODUCTION. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles adopts 43 TAC §217.75, concerning required training for a person performing registration or titling services through the department's automated registration and title system (RTS). The department adopts §217.75 with changes to the proposed text as published in the August 23, 2019 issue of the Texas Register (44 TexReg 4465), and the rule will be republished. The rule is adopted to be effective December 16, 2019.

REASONED JUSTIFICATION. Section 217.75 is necessary to implement Senate Bill 604, Sections 4.04 and 4.06, 86th Regular Session (2019). Section 4.04 added Transportation Code §520.023, which requires the department to implement a training program providing information on the department's automated registration and titling system and identification of fraudulent activity related to vehicle registration and titling, and to require a person performing registration or titling services to complete the training. Section 4.06 of Senate Bill 604 requires the department to adopt rules to implement this training program not later than December 1, 2019.

The department recognizes that training may temporarily take time away from county tax assessor-collector customer service functions. However, the legislature in requiring the training determined that the benefit of mandatory training exceeded that temporary disruption. In these rules the department has tried to balance allowing tax assessor-collectors and full service deputies adequate time to schedule training against the concern that training, especially new training regarding completely new material and substantive changes to existing material, protects the public against the use of outdated and incorrect processes.

Further, as described by many tax assessor-collectors in their comments, the training program is intended for industry professionals. A score of 80 percent is reasonable. The purpose of the program is to provide training to ensure full comprehension of titling and registration activities and not intended to fail people out of the system. As such, the program does not limit the number of times, or how often, a person can take a course and the test. Enabling a permission, or enabling a disabled permission, involves completing the required training for the permission with a score of 80 percent and having the training verified. The process is based on the systems available to the department. The reasoned justification incorporates the department's responses to comments.

Section 217.75(a) establishes the requirement that a department employee, department contractor, county tax assessor-collector employee, or full service deputy as defined by §217.162(6) must complete training regarding transactions performed in RTS and identification of fraudulent activity related to motor vehicle registration and titling. The definition of full service deputy includes an individual who is employed, hired, or otherwise engaged by the full service deputy to serve as the deputy's agent in performing motor vehicle titling, registration, or registration renewal services. These individuals and entities are the only individuals or entities with access to RTS. Other deputy types do not access RTS. The term RTS is defined for purposes of this subchapter in §217.71(b)(5) to mean the "department's registration and title system."

Section 217.75(b) specifies that the department will make the training available for county tax assessor-collector employees or full service deputies through the department's online training system.

Section 217.75(c) clarifies how a county tax assessor-collector employee or full service deputy may satisfy the training regarding RTS. Specifically, a county tax assessor-collector employee or full service deputy must successfully complete each training course associated with the permissions the person is assigned in RTS. In response to comments, the department has changed the proposed text of 217.75(c) to clarify the process. Specifically, the department replaced the term "pass" with "complete;" added a sentence to describe completion of a course is obtaining a score of at least 80 percent on the course test, and the training is verified; and added a second sentence clarifying that persons are not limited in the number of times, or how often, they may take a course or test.

Section 217.75(c)(1)-(6) describes the process in more detail. Section 217.75(c)(1) provides that the county employee or official with an administrative role in RTS, whether that person is the county tax assessor-collector or county tax assessor-collector system administrator, must create accounts for and assign RTS permissions to each employee or full service deputy who will be given access to RTS based on that person's job duties.

Section 217.75(c)(2) provides that the department will assign training content for specific permissions in RTS.

Section 217.75(c)(3) provides that a person must take the required training using the person's assigned training identifier for the department's online training system.

Section 217.75(c)(4) provides that the department will enable a permission once the required training for the assigned permission has been completed. This process will ensure verification of training before a person is able to access RTS. The system administrator does not need to complete the required training to create accounts and assign permissions; however, if the system administrator wants access to RTS, the system administrator must complete the training required by this section.

Section 217.75(c)(5) provides that a person who is processing transactions on or before the effective date of the rule will have until August 31, 2020, to complete the required training. This will allow existing staff approximately eight months to complete training after the effective date of the rule.

A person who is assigned permissions after the effective date of the rule or after new training is created must complete all required training before the permissions are enabled. This requirement is reasonable because the individual will not necessarily have experience with the functions enabled by the new permissions, especially if they are a new employee.

Section 217.75(c)(6) requires a person who is processing transactions when new training is created to complete the training within 120 days after the department has provided notice that the new training is available. The period was extended from 90 in the proposal to 120 days in response to comments. The extended period is intended to reduce the stress on county tax assessor-collector offices to complete training, particularly for smaller offices that perform multiple additional functions for their counties, such as being voter registrar. New training is training that is a new requirement for the permission, or when substantive new information is added to an existing course to render the old information incorrect and outdated.

Section 217.75(c)(6) also provides a 14-day limited exception to the 120-day time-limit to complete new training. In response to comments, this limited exemption was expanded to include employees of full service deputies, in addition to county tax assessor-collector employees. This period has also been extended to 120 days to maintain consistency with the proposed text and in response to comments.

Section 217.75(d) provides that the department will disable a permission if a person fails to complete the training required for that permission. In response to comments, the department has changed the text to include the proposed text in paragraph (1), and added paragraph (2) as an exception to being disabled if a person submits their required training test scores prior to the end of a training period. The exception is based on the concern that verification may be delayed if a large number of test scores are submitted in the days immediately prior to the end of a training period. Under the exception, a person who timely submits test scores will not be disabled, unless the department determines that they did not score at least 80 percent as required to complete the course.

Section 217.75(d)(3) has also been added based on comments. Section 217.75(d)(3) clarifies that a disabled permission may be enabled by using the process to complete training and enable permissions in subsection (c) of this section.

As addressed in the proposal, implementation of this rule requires the department to reconfigure its internal systems to conform to the new requirements. The department adopts §217.75 to be effective December 16, 2019.

The department received 148 written comments on the proposal.

The department received a written comment from Ronnie Brock's Kerrville RV in support of the rule as proposed.

The department received written comments requesting changes in the proposed text or against the rule as proposed from: The Tax Assessor-Collectors Association of Texas (TACA) and tax assessor-collectors for the following counties: Anderson, Angelina, Aransas, Archer, Armstrong, Atascosa, Austin, Bandera, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brewster, Briscoe, Brown , Calhoun, Callahan, Carson, Cass, Castro, Chambers, Cherokee, Cochran, Coleman, Collin, Colorado, Comal, Cooke, Coryell, Crane, Crosby, Culberson , Dallam, Dallas, Dawson, Deaf Smith, Denton, Dickens, Dimmit, Donley, Eastland, Ector, El Paso, Ellis, Erath, Fayette, Garza, Gillespie, Glasscock, Goliad, Gonzales, Gray, Grayson, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hall, Hamilton, Hansford, Hardeman, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Hartley, Haskell, Hemphill, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Hopkins, Houston, Hudspeth, Hutchinson, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kenedy, Kent, Kerr, Kinney, Lamar, Lampasas, Lavaca, Lee, Leon, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Lynn, Madison, Marion, McCulloch, McLennan, McMullen, Milam, Montgomery, Moore, Nacogdoches, Navarro, Newton, Nueces, Ochiltree, Orange, Parker, Parmer, Pecos, Polk, Real, Red River, Refugio, Roberts, Robertson, Runnels, Rusk, Sabine, San Patricio, Sherman, Smith, Stephens, Sterling, Sutton, Swisher, Tarrant, Taylor, Terry, Tom Green, Travis, Trinity, Tyler, Upshur, Upton, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Washington, Wharton, Williamson, Wilson, Winkler, Wise, Wood.

General Comments

A commenter supports the proposed rule and believes that mandatory training will reduce the number of titling mistakes that the commenter must later fix.

Response. The department appreciates the comment in support of the proposal.

Commenters stated that they believed training is necessary and required.

Response. The department agrees with the comment.

Commenters stated that the proposal did not appear to be consistent with the statutory requirement to develop, in coordination with county tax assessor-collectors, criteria for the suspension or denial of employee or deputy access to the RTS if a county tax assessor-collector suspects fraud, waste, or abuse.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment. Section 217.75 is only intended to implement Transportation Code §520.023 not later than December 1, 2019, as required under SB 604, Section 4.06, which does not require coordination with county tax assessor-collectors. While not required, the department sent out a notice of the proposed training plan as detailed in the proposed rules, provided four statewide webinars and made a recording of one of these webinars available on its website, and met with representatives of the TACA.

The commenter is referencing SB 604, Section 4.07, which the department will separately propose rules necessary to implement. Senate Bill 604, Section 4.07, requires the department, not later than March 1, 2020, in coordination with county tax assessor-collectors, and in accordance with Transportation Code, Chapter 520, Subchapter C as added, to develop, adopt, and implement rules that create clear criteria for the suspension or denial of access to RTS if a county tax assessor-collector suspects fraud, waste, or abuse relating to RTS by a county tax assessor-collector employee or a person deputized under Transportation Code §520.0071.

Commenters from small and large counties stated that the rule as proposed will negatively impact the daily operations of providing services to the public.

Response. The department disagrees with these comments. The department recognizes that training will require a small investment of time. This will allow employees to provide expedient, high quality, and accurate customer service without the assistance of department personnel. The legislature determined that the benefit of mandatory training exceeded the small investment of time by requiring the training. The department worked with county tax assessor-collectors to allow adequate time to complete training required by statute.

A commenter is concerned that they may be forced to decline services to their taxpayers because they are locked out; suggests that the rollout begin on a limited scale and with smaller counties; and suggests delaying the training program until February 2020. The commenter also requests dedicated helpdesk support for large counties.

Response. The department disagrees with the comments and requests. The possibility of an unforeseen or programing error always exists. It is also impossible to tell if the unforeseen error would affect all counties equally. The department will be monitoring and responding to possible programming issues statewide. Further, delay in starting the program in some counties would reduce the period that those counties' employees had to complete any training courses needed to maintain access to their existing permissions, before the August 31, 2020, deadline.

The department will be assigning resources statewide to verify training. Each of the 254 counties will receive the same level of attention and not be granted a dedicated team. The training verification requests will be worked in a statewide queue in the order in which they are received. The periods to complete the training are intended to allow sufficient time to complete the required training, while meeting the legislature's training requirement and making sure that persons using RTS have been provided the most current information. Completing training, especially new training, avoids having the account disabled and reduces the possibility of errors from using outdated or incorrect information and processes.

Commenters cross-train employees to assist with motor vehicle duties and disagree with the $11 annual fee paid for each employee to access the eLearning Center if the county exceeds their account allocation at the state's expense.

Response. The department agrees that the fee exists. The fee is set in the county equipment guide and agreed to through the interlocal agreement entered into between each county and the department. In the department's County Equipment Guide, a county is allocated eLearning accounts based on the county's current workstation count. Each allocated and leased department workstation is assigned one eLearning user account, which represents the county's Base Accounts. Counties that have workstation counts from 1 to 19 are entitled to one additional eLearning account. Counties that have workstation counts of 20 or more are entitled to 10 percent additional eLearning accounts, which represents the county's Additional Accounts. The county's Base Accounts plus Additional Accounts equals the county's Total Accounts at State Expense.

Commenters requests that the "sandbox" environment be in place by the rule's effective date and remain available for use as often as desired for continuing education.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment. This request, while a high priority, will not be available and is separate from this training program. Section 217.75 implements the legislative requirement to implement a required training program under Transportation Code §520.023. The "sandbox" would not be a required part of the training and as such a change has not been made in the rule text to include the "sandbox" in §217.75.

A Commenter is concerned that mandatory training of employees is somewhat of an overreach into personnel operations of their offices.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment. As addressed in other responses, Transportation Code §520.023 requires mandatory training for each person performing registration and titling services. Section 217.75 implements that requirement. The rules do not require a county tax assessor-collector to provide confidential employee information to the department, or address the employment practices of a county for a user that does not complete the required training. Further, while completing some training may enable multiple permissions, the rule does not require a county tax assessor-collector to assign an enabled permission to an employee.

§217.75(a)

Commenters stated that they considered the training requirements unnecessary and preferred to use their own training systems.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment. Transportation Code §520.023(a) directs the department to implement a training program and Transportation Code §520.023(b) directs the department to require each person performing registration and titling services to complete the training under Transportation Code §520.023(a). The legislature did not authorize an exception. County tax assessor-collectors may require training in addition to the requirement in §217.75.

Commenters oppose the requirement for each staff member to complete and pass the training in order to maintain access to RTS.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment. Transportation Code §520.023(b) directs the department to require each person performing registration and titling services to complete the training under Transportation Code §520.023(a). The legislature did not authorize an exception.

A commenter is concerned that the rule might inhibit performance of legally required services to taxpayers.

Response. The agency disagrees with the comment. The legislature has determined that completion of training is a legal requirement for each person performing registration and titling services.

A commenter asks why driver license information is included in the training.

Response. The agency appreciates the question. This information is included in the training because identification documents are required as part of certain motor vehicle transactions. RTS users processing transactions should know how to identify fraudulent documents.

Commenter states that the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) training is important for everyone.

Response. The department agrees with the comment.

§217.75(b)

Commenter suggests Vehicle Titles and Registration (VTR) service centers should have the ability to run RTS user security reports remotely from a VTR service center.

Response. The department agrees with the comment and has requested programming to allow regional service centers to run county RTS employee security reports. However, §217.75 implements the legislative requirement to implement a required training program under Transportation Code §520.023. The report would not be a required part of the training, and a change has not been made in the rule text to include this report in §217.75.

Commenter suggested the release of training material should be in February 2020 or later rather than December 2019 due to property tax season, which is the busiest time of the operating year.

Response. The department disagrees with this recommendation as it would reduce the time for persons with existing permissions to report completed training. The department recognizes there may be impacts in December, but merely releasing programming in December does not mandate reporting at that time. Further, delay in starting the program in some counties would reduce the period that those counties' employees must complete any training courses needed to maintain access to their existing permissions, before the August 31, 2020, deadline.

217.75(c)

Commenters identified that the proposal does not define what is required to "pass" or "complete" training, and requested the proposal be amended to state what is required to pass or complete a training course.

Response. The department agrees to revise the proposed text to clarify the section. The section as proposed uses both the terms "pass" and "complete" a course based on common usage but does not define them. Based on other comments, it is understood this would involve achieving a grade for the course that would be verified in the eLearning system. Verification is necessary because the RTS and current eLearning systems cannot communicate with each other. The department has changed §217.75(c) to remove the word "pass" and replaced it with the word "complete." To add certainty to what the term "complete" means in this section, the department has added a sentence that reads "A person completes a training course when the person obtains a score of at least 80 percent on the course test, and the training is verified." The changes do not add costs or affect persons not on notice of this proposal.

Commenters suggested that the passing grade be 70 percent because that is usually a passing grade in school.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment. As addressed in other responses to comments, the department has changed the text in §217.75(c) to provide that a person must obtain a score of at least 80 percent, and the training is verified, for completion of a training course. The department agrees with the many commenters that described their staff as industry professionals. The department considers the goal of the legislative requirement is training for industry professionals. The score reflects that as an industry professional, the individual should demonstrate more than basic understanding of the material to meet customer service demands and expectations.

Commenters recommend that training be available to take as often as desired; suggest users be allowed to retake the trainings multiple times to complete with a passing score for RTS access; and ask if the rule allows a person multiple opportunities to take and pass the required training prior to being disabled.

Response. The department agrees to revise the proposed text to clarify the section. The proposal is silent on the number of times, or how often, the training and test may be taken. The eLearning system does not currently limit the number of times, or how often, the training and test may be taken. The department did not intend to change that function in the eLearning system in the adoption of §217.75. To add certainty to the rule requirement, the department has added a sentence to §217.75(c) that reads "This section does not limit the number of times or how often a person may take a training course or test." The change does not add costs or affect persons not on notice of this proposal.

However, while there is no limitation imposed in this rule, a county tax assessor-collector may establish its own policies and procedures limiting the number of times employees may take the course and test.

§217.75(c)(2)

Commenters are concerned that the training, depending on a function, may take anywhere from 3, 8, 12 and up to 24 hours of training, thus impacting their ability to provide titling and registration services.

Response. The department agrees there will be an investment of time for training to qualify for a set of permissions associated with common office functions. The amount of training will vary based on the number and type of permissions that the tax collector-assessor wants to assign to the employee. The training is self-paced and the time spent to complete the training will vary by individual.

A commenter asserts that the rule will require all tax assessor-collector employees, and their full service deputies, to pass more than 51 eLearning courses before continued or new access is allowed.

Response. The department disagrees with this comment. The amount of required training will vary on the number and type of new permissions that the tax collector-assessor wants to assign to the employee. Employees with existing permissions do not need to retake courses that are documented as having already been completed in the eLearning system.

§217.75(c)(3)

Commenters believe that the department stated that each user must be assigned a separate logon, including those who may access RTS for accounting purposes. The commenters consider that requiring a user to be credentialed and repeat training for each office the logon is used is overbearing, and point out that staff is often rotated throughout various offices to ensure adequate coverage and for security.

Response. The department disagrees with this comment because a training course must be completed only one time per user. The department believes this comment is based on a misunderstanding during some of its webinars related to the pending rules. The department adjusted its presentation to address this concern. The department prefers each user only have one RTS user logon.

The rules do not require each user to be credentialed for each office local area network (LAN) where the user works. As such, offices that do not have multiple logons for individual users will not need to change their systems. The user is only required to complete the training one time, and the training would have to be reported individually for that user logon.

For the less than ten tax assessor-collector offices that credential a user with more than one valid RTS user logon, the user is only required to complete the training one time, but the training would have to be reported individually for each user logon. This is because the RTS system does not have the functionality to link multiple RTS user logons. The use of multiple logons is a business decision and not a department requirement. The department will work with these offices to adjust to the process, but the department considers that programming RTS to link multiple logons for the limited number of offices would not be the most practical use of state resources.

Regardless of the number of RTS logons they have, each RTS user must have their own unique eLearning Account under which training is completed. Training will need to be completed one time by each employee and reported for each RTS user logon for that employee.

Commenters suggest that once a primary logon is validated, the same logon should be validated automatically for additional or alternate logons.

Response. The agency disagrees with the comment. As addressed in other responses to comments, §217.75 does not require tax assessor-collector offices to use multiple logons. Most tax assessor-collector offices do not use multiple logons. The limited number that do, is in result of a business decision and not a department requirement. The department will work with these offices to adjust to the process, but the department considers that programming RTS to link multiple logons for the limited number of offices would not be the most practical use of state resources.

§217.75(c)(4)

Commenters believed that waiting for the department's regional service centers to grant permissions may unnecessarily delay a new employee's ability to begin working in RTS. A commenter suggests amending §217.75(c)(4) to require the department to enable permissions "expediently (by the next business day)."

Response. The department disagrees with the comment and has not made a change to the rule text. The department will spread processing across a statewide queue. Verification of completed training will be worked under a first come, first serve model. A delay in completing and subsequently reporting the completed training could result in a delay in verification.

A commenter believes the department should have access to verify all associated training is completed and not require the tax collector-assessors' office to send in reports for each user once they have completed a course. Reporting should be automated without the need for anyone to report anyone else's results.

Response. The department agrees with the comment in favor of automation; however, the RTS and the current eLearning system cannot interface. As such, the most effective and efficient way to implement the training program required by the legislature with the current systems is for counties to report the training into RTS for verification so that all associated permissions can be enabled.

Commenters suggest that the county tax-assessor collector should be allowed to enable permission for up to 90 to 180 days to continue RTS access pending review by the department.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment and has not made a change to the rule text. Transportation Code §520.023 requires each person performing registration and titling services to "complete" the required training program. The legislature did not authorize an exception.

§217.75(c)(5)

A commenter states that the department has made no analysis or study regarding the direct or indirect financial impact to local counties or tax assessor-collectors by requiring staff to repeat training.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment. The rule does not require an employee or full service deputy to repeat training that the person has completed and is documented in the eLearning system.

Commenters asserted that employees with existing credentials should be grandfathered into the system.

Response. The department disagrees with the suggestion and has not made a change in response to this comment. Transportation Code §520.023 requires each person performing registration and titling services to "complete" the required training program. The legislature did not authorize an exception.

The rule provides that a person with an existing permission as of the effective date of §217.75, may continue to use that permission until August 31, 2020. The person is not required to repeat any training in the eLearning system which they have already scored at least 80% on the course test, prior to the effective date of §217.75. Otherwise, the person must complete those courses prior to August 31, 2020, to maintain the permission.

The department is also concerned that grandfathering could be read to mean that the person would not be required to take new training when it is required to maintain the permission. Section 217.75(c)(6), as changed in this adoption, requires new training to be completed within 120 days after notice of its release to maintain the permission.

A commenter suggests removing "by August 31, 2020" from §217.75(c)(5) concerning the period in which a person with existing permissions must complete any incomplete training required to maintain their existing permissions.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment and has not made any changes based on this comment. The proposed section requires persons with an existing permission to complete required training for those permission on or before August 31, 2020. Removing the date would require all training to be completed on or before the effect date of the rule or be disabled based on §217.75(c)(4) and §217.75(d). Such a change would not be consistent with the proposal, which intends to allow persons with existing permissions adequate time to complete the required training, be it on or before August 31, 2020, or within 120 days after new training is required for the permission.

§217.75(c)(6)

Commenters believe a 90-day period to complete new training is too brief. Commenters suggested changing the period ranging from 120 to 180 days. A commenter also suggests the qualifying absence period for the 14-day grace period in §217.75(c)(6) be changed from 90 to 180 days, which is consistent with the commenters suggestion to extend the training period to 120 days.

Response. The department agrees with the comments and has made a change to the rule text to extend the periods to 120 days. The extended training period is intended to reduce the stress on county tax assessor-collector offices to complete training, particularly smaller offices that perform multiple additional functions for their counties such as being voter registrar.

The 90-day qualifying absence period for the 14-day grace period is also extended to 120 days for consistency. The changes do not add costs or affect persons not on notice of this proposal.

The 120-day period only applies to a person with an existing permission. Training will only be required if the required training course is a new requirement or provides new substantive information or processes not in the prior course. New training is developed as necessary, but generally results from events such as changes in statute, rule, or policy and procedure changes.

The time required to complete a new course, or courses, to maintain a permission will vary. The number of training courses required for the permission that would be new at the same time may also vary. The department considers the 120-day period allowed to complete the new course is reasonable and adequate. Further, having training regarding new information protects the public against the use of outdated and incorrect processes.

A commenter suggests amending the second sentence in §217.75(c)(6), to add full service deputies to the grace period.

Response. The department agrees with the comment and made the requested change. The department has changed the proposed text to read "A county employee, or full service deputy, ...." The department has not changed the requirement that the county tax assessor-collector must determine that the absence was due to circumstances beyond that person's control. The change does not add costs or affect persons not on notice of this proposal.

§217.75(d)

Commenters expressed concern that the verification process might result in delays in completing training.

Response. The department agrees with the comment and has made a change to the rule text. The department has amended the rule proposed text to list the existing statement that the department will disable a permission as §217.75(d)(1) and has added an exception as §217.75(d)(2) for a person who submits their required training test scores prior to the end of a training period. Under the exception, a person who timely submits test scores will not be disabled, unless the department determines that they did not score at least 80 percent as required to complete the course. The change does not add costs or affect persons not on notice of this proposal. Subsection (d) now reads:

"(d) Failure to complete required training. The department will:

(1) except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, disable a permission if a person fails to complete required training for the permission within the timeframes required by this section.

(2) not disable a permission for a county tax assessor-collector employee or a full service deputy if the person timely submits their score for each required training; however, the department will disable the person's permission if the department subsequently determines that each [we determine the] submitted score is not at least 80 percent."

A commenter noted that the proposal did not provide criteria for reinstatement.

Response. The department agrees to revise the proposed text to clarify the process in §217.75(d). The intent of §217.75(d) is to state that the user's permissions would be disabled if the required training is not completed within the time allowed by the rule. Permissions are enabled under §217.75(c) when the training is completed. To clarify the process, the department has added §217.75(d)(3) that reads "A disabled permission may be enabled by using the process to complete training and enable permissions in subsection (c) of this section." The change does not add costs or affect persons not on notice of this proposal.

A commenter suggests amending §217.75(d) from "will disable" to "may limit, suspend, or disable."

Response. The department disagrees with the comment. RTS users must complete the required training as required in Transportation Code §520.023. The permission can be enabled if the person completes the required training. In addition, as addressed in other responses to comments, the department has changed the text of §217.75(d) to provide that a person who timely submits test scores will not be disabled, unless the department determines that the person did not score at least 80 percent as required to complete the course.

A commenter suggests that the rule provides for the arbitrary termination of user permissions.

Response. The department disagrees with this comment. The rule does not authorize arbitrary actions. Permissions are not terminated. The dates for completion of training are established in the rule. If permissions are disabled, they may be enabled by completing the training. RTS users must complete the required training as required in Transportation Code §520.023.

A commenter states the suggestion of removing user permissions if the deadline is not met is ill-advised, because there may be various reasons clerks aren't available to complete a training assessment.

Response. The department disagrees with the comment. Transportation Code §520.023(b) directs the department to require each person performing registration and titling services to complete the training under Transportation Code §520.023(a). A person who has not completed training is not eligible under the statute to perform registration and titling services. A person can complete the required training to become eligible, maintain their eligibility, and reinstate their eligibility.

The rules provide until August 31, 2020, to complete all required training and 120 days after notice of new training. The department believes that the time frames provide adequate time for persons with existing permissions to complete any training required to retain their RTS permissions, and protect the public from the use of incorrect and outdated processes.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY. Section 217.75 is adopted under Transportation Code §1002.001, which provides the board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles with the authority to adopt rules that are necessary and appropriate to implement the powers and the duties of the department; and more specifically, Transportation Code §520.021, which authorizes the department to adopt rules and policies for the maintenance and use of the department's automated registration and titling system; and Transportation Code §520.023, which requires the department to implement a training program providing information on the department's automated registration and titling system and identification of fraudulent activity related to vehicle registration and titling.

CROSS REFERENCE TO STATUTE. Transportation Code §520.021 and §520.023.

§217.75.Required Training on the Registration and Title System and Identification of Fraud.

(a) Required training. A person performing registration or titling services through RTS, including a department employee, department contractor, county tax assessor-collector employee, or full service deputy as defined by §217.162(6) of this title (relating to Definitions), must complete a training program as prescribed by this section. Required training will include, at a minimum:

(1) training regarding transactions performed in RTS; and

(2) identification of fraudulent activity related to vehicle registration and titling.

(b) Online training. The department will make required training for county tax assessor-collector employees and full service deputies available through the department's online training system.

(c) Registration and Title System training for county tax assessor-collector staff and full service deputies. To satisfy the training requirements under subsection (a)(1) of this section, a county tax assessor-collector employee or full service deputy must complete each training course associated with the permissions that person is assigned in RTS. A person completes a training course when the person obtains a score of at least 80 percent on the course test, and the training is verified. This section does not limit the number of times or how often a person may take a training course or test.

(1) A county tax assessor-collector or county tax assessor-collector's system administrator must create accounts for and assign permissions in RTS to each employee or full service deputy who will be given access to RTS based on that person's job duties as determined by the county tax assessor-collector or the county tax assessor-collector's system administrator.

(2) The department will assign training content for specific permissions in RTS.

(3) A person must take required training using the person's individually assigned training identifier for the department's online training system.

(4) The department will enable a permission on completion of required training.

(5) A person with permissions in RTS on or before the effective date of this section must complete required training under this section by August 31, 2020. A person who has not been assigned permissions in RTS on or before the effective date of this section must complete all required training before permissions are enabled by the department.

(6) If new training is made available for a new or existing permission after August 31, 2020, a person with permissions enabled before the new training is made available must complete the required training within 120 days of the department's notification that the training is available. A county employee, or full service deputy, who is on leave on the date of the department's notification that the new training is available, for at least 120 days thereafter, and due to circumstances beyond that person's control, as determined by the county tax assessor-collector may have an additional 14 days upon returning to work to complete the new training.

(d) Failure to complete required training.

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, the department will disable a permission if a person fails to complete required training for the permission within the timeframes required by this section.

(2) The department will not disable a permission for a county tax assessor-collector employee or a full service deputy if the person timely submits their score for each required training course; however, the department will disable the person's permission if the department determines that the submitted score is not at least 80 percent.

(3) A disabled permission may be enabled by using the process to complete training and enable permissions in subsection (c) of this section.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on November 18, 2019.

TRD-201904323

Tracey Beaver

General Counsel

Texas Department of Motor Vehicles

Effective date: December 16, 2019

Proposal publication date: August 23, 2019

For further information, please call: (512) 465-5665