TITLE 16. ECONOMIC REGULATION

PART 1. RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS

CHAPTER 3. OIL AND GAS DIVISION

16 TAC §3.65

The Railroad Commission of Texas (the "Commission") proposes amendments to §3.65, relating to Critical Designation of Natural Gas Infrastructure. The amendments are proposed to simplify the rule language and the process for designating certain natural gas facilities and entities critical during energy emergencies.

Section 3.65 went into effect December 20, 2021. It implemented requirements from House Bill 3648 and Senate Bill 3 (87th Legislature, Regular Session) directing the Commission to collaborate with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (the "PUC") to adopt rules to establish a process to designate certain natural gas facilities and entities associated with providing natural gas in this state as critical customers or critical gas suppliers during energy emergencies. The Commission's process for designating certain facilities critical has been in place for approximately eight months. During that time, the Commission has become aware of points of confusion in current §3.65. Additionally, during the recent comment period for proposed 16 Texas Administrative Code §3.66 (relating to Weather Emergency Preparedness Standards), the Commission received several comments requesting changes to §3.65. The Commission addresses some of those concerns with these proposed amendments.

First, proposed amendments to subsection (a) provide more certainty regarding the definition of "energy emergency." Currently, the definition includes any event that results in firm load shed or has the potential to result in firm load shed required by the reliability coordinator of a power region in Texas. Ninety percent of Texas' power load is managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) according to ERCOT's website. Because firm load shed is associated with an alert from the reliability coordinator, those required to comply with §3.65 and members of the public are made aware when firm load shed occurs. It is the Commission's understanding that firm load shed is associated with an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 issued by ERCOT. However, there is less certainty regarding an event with "potential to result in firm load shed." Therefore, the Commission proposes amendments to define an event with "potential to result in firm load shed" as when the reliability coordinator of a power region in Texas issues an Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 or 2. More clearly defining when there is a potential for firm load shed will provide operators with more certainty as to when an energy emergency is occurring.

For example, according to ERCOT protocols, an Energy Emergency Alert (EEA) is required when operating reserves drop below 2,300 megawatts (MW) or the system frequency cannot be maintained above certain levels and durations. The three levels of EEA depend on the amount of operating reserves available to meet electric demand. Currently, an EEA 1 is issued when operating reserves drop below 2,300 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes. An EEA 2 is issued when operating reserves are less than 1,750 MW and are not expected to recover within 30 minutes. An EEA 3 is issued when operating reserves cannot be maintained above 1,375 MW. If conditions do not improve, ERCOT orders transmission companies to reduce demand on the system (i.e., firm load shed). Thus, the proposed change defines an energy emergency as an event in which ERCOT has issued an EEA 1 or higher. Additionally, tying the potential for firm load shed to EEAs and not to specific MW thresholds will allow the definition of energy emergency to maintain its accuracy even if ERCOT were to change the MW thresholds for its EEAs in the future.

Section 3.66, adopted concurrently with these proposed amendments to §3.65, contains a related definition. It defines weather emergency as "weather conditions such as freezing temperatures, freezing precipitation, or extreme heat in the facility's county or counties that result in an energy emergency as defined by §3.65 of this title." Comments received on proposed §3.66 noted the lack of certainty in the definition due to its reference to "energy emergency" in §3.65. The proposed amendments to subsection (a) address these concerns.

Second, the Commission proposes amendments to the list of critical gas suppliers in subsection (b)(1). The commission received multiple comments on the original proposal of §3.65 expressing concern that the list of critical gas suppliers encompassed too many facilities such that electric utilities may experience a burden in prioritizing the facilities for load-shed purposes. Similarly, comments on proposed §3.66 requested reducing facilities on the list by excluding more gas wells and oil leases with marginal production. The amendments now proposed to §3.65(b)(1) exclude gas wells producing an average of 250 Mcf of natural gas per day or less and oil leases producing an average of 500 Mcf of natural gas per day or less.

The Commission has conducted calculations regarding the amount of natural gas provided by critical producers considering different volume thresholds in subsection (b) (i.e, the amount of natural gas available under the current rule versus the amount of natural gas available if facilities producing lower volumes are excluded from the critical gas supplier list in §3.65(b)(1)). The Commission used March 2022 production reports to conduct these calculations. Raising the threshold in §3.65(b)(1) to 250 Mcf/day for gas wells and 500 Mcf/day for oil leases producing casinghead gas leaves 78.4% of the total natural gas produced per day, or approximately 24.5 Bcf/day of natural gas, designated as critical. In other words, those low-producing gas wells and oil leases aggregated together statewide only represent a small portion of the natural gas production. However, they account for a large number of the facilities. This was confirmed after the January critical designation filing earlier this year. By raising the volume thresholds for critical facility designation, the rule focuses on truly critical facilities. It also addresses some of the commenters' concerns that the current volumetric threshold will have the unintended consequences of forcing small operators to stop producing or selling natural gas in Texas, which will have a negative impact on gas supply in the state.

Additionally, gas wells producing less than 250 Mcf of natural gas per day on average are defined as marginal in Natural Resources Code §86.091. The Natural Resources Code does not define marginal production for oil leases. However, the Commission notes that oil leases contain an average of approximately five wells each, and each well produces more oil than gas. Therefore, the Commission believes raising the production threshold to 500 Mcf per day in subsection (b)(1)(B) is appropriate.

The Commission notes that raising the volume thresholds in subsection (b)(1)(A) and (b)(1)(B) does not preclude facilities producing under the thresholds from producing and providing gas for the supply chain during an energy emergency. Removing those wells and leases from the critical gas supplier list merely prevents their power from being prioritized by electric utilities during a load-shed event. However, the facilities may be located on the same meter as another critical facility such that their power remains on and they continue to produce or they may otherwise maintain power, allowing more than 78% of total production to be available.

Third, proposed amendments in subsections (c), (e), and (f) revise requirements triggered by a critical gas supplier's inclusion on the electricity supply chain map produced by the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee. Changes to subsection (c) allow a facility that is not designated a critical gas supplier in subsection (b) an exemption from filing Form CI-D. Proposed amendments to subsection (e) and (f) clarify that if a facility designated critical in subsection (b) is included on the electricity supply chain map, it is not eligible to request an exception from critical designation.

A facility's inclusion on the map is not determined by its critical designation in §3.65. Instead, the facility's inclusion on the map is determined by whether it provides, processes, or transports natural gas for gas-fired electric generation facilities. Now that a first version of the map has been issued, the Commission recognizes that it will be rare for a facility not designated critical to appear on the electricity supply chain map. This result is only possible for gas wells or oil leases not designated critical in subsection (b) (i.e., those gas wells producing an average of 250 mcf per day or less or oil leases producing an average of 500 mcf per day or less according to the proposed amendments to subsection (b)(1) described above). Removing the existing subsection (c)(1) from §3.65 means that if a non-critical facility is included on the electricity supply chain map, then the gas well or oil lease will not be required to file Form CI-D.

Importantly, the Commission notes that removing facilities that produce under the thresholds proposed in §3.65(b)(1) may actually increase the likelihood that those facilities will continue to produce natural gas during a weather emergency as defined in §3.66. Producing facilities are defined as "gas supply chain facilities" in §3.66, and per Senate Bill 3, a gas supply chain facility must be both designated critical by §3.65 and on the electricity supply chain map to be required to comply with §3.66. Operators of low producing facilities, if required to comply with §3.66's preparation standard, may voluntarily shut-in low producing facilities before a weather emergency--or decommission the facilities in their entirety--because the risks associated with complying with §3.66 may exceed the facility's production value. This is particularly true given that Senate Bill 3's penalty ceiling is up to $1,000,000 per violation of §3.66. Excluding the very small subset of low producing wells from the critical designation list removes the threat of penalty, increasing the likelihood that the facilities stay online and produce natural gas during a weather emergency.

Proposed changes to subsection (e) and (f) restate the exception process to affirmatively state which facilities are eligible for an exception rather than stating the facilities that are not eligible for an exception. The Commission believes these changes will reduce confusion experienced during the Form CI-D and CI-X filing processes. The proposed amendments remove the current language in subsection (e) and make current subsection (f) new subsection (e).

Proposed subsection (e) states that a facility designated critical under subsection (b) may request an exception unless the facility is included on the electricity supply chain map. The proposed amendments also clarify the acceptable reasons for requesting an exception. Examples of acceptable reasons include: (A) all of the natural gas produced at the facility is consumed on site; (B) all of the natural gas produced at the facility is consumed outside of this state; (C) the facility does not provide gas for third-party use; or (D) the electric entity providing electricity to the facility has provided notice that the facility's request for critical designation status was rejected, denied, or otherwise disapproved by the electric utility; provided, however, that the electric utility communicated its determination in writing, and the decision was for reasons other than the lack of correct identifying information or other administrative reasons. These reasons are examples which are intended to capture the Commission's goal that facilities contributing natural gas to the supply chain in Texas are not eligible for an exception. Proposed subsection (e)(2)(A) and (e)(2)(C) were included in the original proposal of §3.65. In this proposal, the exceptions are moved from subsection (e)(1) to the list in subsection (e)(2). Proposed subsection (e)(2)(B) adds language consistent with Natural Resources Code §81.073, which states, "The commission shall collaborate with the Public Utility Commission of Texas to adopt rules to establish a process to designate certain natural gas facilities and entities associated with providing natural gas in this state as critical customers or critical gas suppliers during energy emergencies" (emphasis added).

The Commission recognizes that hearings are pending at the Commission in which Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) are reviewing whether other reasons are sufficient to allow an exception. A determination by the ALJ will be reviewed by the Commissioners and, if granted, future exception applications demonstrating the same facts may also be approved. The Commission also notes that no changes are proposed regarding the requirement for objective evidence supporting the reasonable basis and justification. An applicant for an exception must provide objective evidence or its exception request will not be considered.

Regarding proposed subsection (e)(2)(D), it is the Commission's understanding that some facilities designated critical customers were denied as critical loads by their electric utilities. This decision is in the electric utility's discretion. However, if a critical facility is denied as a critical load, the proposed amendments allow the facility to request an exception such that it is not required to comply with §3.65. The exception will not be approved if the utility's denial was not communicated in writing or was due to errors made by the critical facility in submitting its critical customer information. Similarly, the exception will not be approved if the denial was based on the utility's administrative reasons, such as the facility's power is already prioritized due to its location on a meter that is already a critical load.

Other proposed amendments merely update internal references due to the proposed removal of subsection (e) and the renaming of subsection (f).

Jared Ware, Director, Critical Infrastructure Division, has determined that for each year of the first five years that the amendments will be in effect, there will be no additional cost to state government as a result of enforcing and administering the amendments as proposed. There is also no fiscal effect on local government. As referenced during the original proposal of §3.65, the Commission anticipates revenue of $150 per operator for an operator's Form CI-X exception application. The proposed amendments allow additional facilities to request an exception, so the Commission may receive increased exception application fees due to the proposed amendments.

Mr. Ware has determined that for each year of the first five years the proposed amendments are in effect the primary public benefit will be establishing a clear process for facilities who are critical natural gas suppliers to be given priority in a load shed event, thus increasing the availability of natural gas for electric power generation in an energy emergency. The public benefit will also be compliance with applicable state law.

Mr. Ware has determined that for each year of the first five years that proposed amendments will be in full effect, persons required to comply as a result of adoption of the proposed amendments will incur minor economic costs of $150 if the operator files a Form CI-X to request an exception from §3.65.

Texas Government Code, §2006.002, relating to Adoption of Rules with Adverse Economic Effect, directs that, as part of the rulemaking process, a state agency prepare an economic impact statement that assesses the potential impact of a proposed rule on rural communities, small businesses, and micro-businesses, and a regulatory flexibility analysis that considers alternative methods of achieving the purpose of the rule if the proposed rule will have an adverse economic effect on rural communities, small businesses, or micro-businesses. The proposed amendments will not have an adverse economic effect on rural communities, small businesses, or micro-businesses. Therefore, the regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.

The Commission has also determined that the proposed amendments will not affect a local economy. Therefore, the Commission has not prepared a local employment impact statement pursuant to Texas Government Code §2001.022.

The Commission has determined that the proposed amendments do not meet the statutory definition of a major environmental rule as set forth in Texas Government Code, §2001.0225(a); therefore, a regulatory analysis conducted pursuant to that section is not required.

During the first five years that the amendments would be in effect, the proposed amendments would not: create or eliminate a new government program, create a new regulation, or expand the Commission's existing regulations. The proposed amendments do not require an increase in future legislative appropriations and do not increase or decrease fees required to be paid to the Commission. The proposed amendments do not require the creation of employee positions or the elimination of existing employee positions. The proposed amendments decrease the number of facilities subject to the rule's requirements. Finally, the proposed amendments would not affect the state's economy.

Comments on the proposed amendments may be submitted to Rules Coordinator, Office of General Counsel, Railroad Commission of Texas, P.O. Box 12967, Austin, Texas 78711-2967; online at www.rrc.texas.gov/general-counsel/rules/comment-form-for-proposed-rulemakings; or by electronic mail to rulescoordinator@rrc.texas.gov. The Commission will accept comments until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 7, 2022. The Commission finds that this comment period is reasonable because the proposal and an online comment form will be available on the Commission's website more than two weeks prior to Texas Register publication of the proposal, giving interested persons additional time to review, analyze, draft, and submit comments. The Commission cannot guarantee that comments submitted after the deadline will be considered. For further information, call Mr. Ware at (512) 463-7336. The status of Commission rulemakings in progress is available at www.rrc.texas.gov/general-counsel/rules/proposed-rules. Once received, all comments are posted on the Commission's website at https://rrc.texas.gov/general-counsel/rules/proposed-rules/. If you submit a comment and do not see the comment posted at this link within three business days of submittal, please call the Office of General Counsel at (512) 463-7149. The Commission has safeguards to prevent emailed comments from getting lost; however, your operating system's or email server's settings may delay or prevent receipt.

The Commission proposes the amendments under Texas Natural Resources Code §81.073, which requires the Commission to adopt rules to establish a process to designate natural gas facilities and entities associated with providing natural gas in this state as critical customers or critical gas suppliers during an energy emergency; and Texas Natural Resources Code, §81.051 and §81.052, which give the Commission jurisdiction over all persons owning or engaged in drilling or operating oil or gas wells in Texas and the authority to adopt all necessary rules for governing and regulating persons and their operations under the jurisdiction of the Commission.

Statutory authority: Natural Resources Code §§81.051, 81.052, and 81.073.

Cross reference to statute: Natural Resources Code Chapter 81.

§3.65.Critical Designation of Natural Gas Infrastructure.

(a) Definitions.

(1) In this section, the term "energy emergency" means any event that results in firm load shed or has the potential to result in firm load shed required by the reliability coordinator of a power region in Texas. An event that has the "potential to result in firm load shed" is when the reliability coordinator of a power region in Texas has issued an Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 or 2.

(2) In this section, the term "critical customer information" means the information required on Commission Form CI-D and any attachments.

(3) In this section, "any volume of gas indicated in Mcf/day" means the average daily production from the well's six most recently filed monthly production reports. Wells without six months of production reports shall average the production from the well's production reports on file with the Commission or use the production volume from the well's initial potential test or deliverability test if the well has not yet filed a production report.

(b) Critical designation criteria. The following facilities are designated critical during an energy emergency:

(1) Critical Gas Supplier. The following facilities are designated a critical gas supplier:

(A) gas wells producing gas in excess of 250 [15] Mcf/day;

(B) oil leases producing casinghead gas in excess of 500 [50] Mcf/day;

(C) gas processing plants;

(D) natural gas pipelines and pipeline facilities including associated compressor stations and control centers;

(E) local distribution company pipelines and pipeline facilities including associated compressor stations and control centers;

(F) underground natural gas storage facilities;

(G) natural gas liquids transportation and storage facilities; and

(H) saltwater disposal facilities including saltwater disposal pipelines.

(2) Critical Customer. A critical customer is a critical gas supplier for whom the delivery of electricity from an electric entity is essential to the ability of such gas supplier to operate. A critical customer is required to provide critical customer information pursuant to subsection (f) [(g)] of this section to the electric entities described in §25.52(h) of this title (relating to Reliability and Continuity of Service) and Texas Utilities Code §38.074(b)(1) so that those electric entities may prioritize the facilities in accordance with Texas Utilities Code §38.074(b)(2) and (b)(3). Priority for load shed [load-shed] purposes during an energy emergency is described by §25.52(h)(2) of this title and any guidance issued thereunder by the Public Utility Commission.

(c) Request for critical designation if not designated critical in subsection (b) of this section.

[(1)] A facility that is not designated critical under subsection (b) of this section may write to the Commission to apply to be designated critical if the facility's operation is required in order for another facility designated critical to operate. The applicant shall include objective evidence that the facility's operation is required for another facility designated critical in subsection (b) of this section to operate. If approved, the facility shall submit Form CI-D.

[(2) A facility that is not designated critical under subsection (b) of this section but that is included on the electricity supply chain map produced by the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee shall write to the Commission to apply to be designated critical, and after approval, shall submit Form CI-D].

(d) Acknowledgment of critical status. Except as provided by subsection (e) [(f)] of this section, an operator of a facility designated as critical under subsection (b) or (c) of this section shall acknowledge the facility's critical status by filing Form CI-D as provided in this subsection. In the year 2022, the Form CI-D acknowledgment shall be filed bi-annually by January 15, 2022, and either September 1, 2022, or 30 days from the date the map is produced by the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee, whichever is later. Beginning in 2023, the Form CI-D acknowledgment shall be filed bi-annually by March 1 and September 1 of each year.

[(e) Facilities not eligible for an exception. Because of their contribution to the natural gas supply chain, the following facilities designated critical under subsection (b) of this section are not eligible for an exception under subsection (f) of this section:]

[(1) a facility included on the electricity supply chain map produced by the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee;]

[(2) gas wells or oil leases producing gas or casinghead gas in excess of 250 Mcf/day;]

[(3) gas processing plants;]

[(4) natural gas pipelines or pipeline facilities that directly serve local distribution companies or electric generation;]

[(5) local distribution company pipelines or pipeline facilities;]

[(6) underground natural gas storage facilities;]

[(7) natural gas liquids storage and transportation facilities; and]

[(8) a saltwater disposal facility, including a saltwater disposal pipeline, that supports a facility listed in paragraphs (1) through (7) of this subsection.]

(e) [(f)] Critical designation exception.

(1) A facility listed in subsection (b) of this section that is not included on the electricity supply chain map produced by the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee [other than those identified in subsection (e) of this section] may apply for an exception. An applicant shall demonstrate with objective evidence a reasonable basis and justification in support of the application[, such as all of the gas produced at a facility is for on-site consumption, or the facility does not otherwise provide gas for third-party use]. The Director of the Critical Infrastructure Division will administratively approve or deny a request for an exception. If the request is denied, the Division will notify the applicant and the applicant may request a hearing to challenge the denial. The party requesting the hearing shall have the burden of proof.

(2) Examples of a reasonable basis and justification for which an exception may be granted include, but are not limited to, the following:

(A) All of the natural gas produced at the facility is consumed on site;

(B) All of the natural gas produced at the facility is consumed outside of this state;

(C) The facility does not provide gas for third-party use; or

(D) The electric entity providing electricity to the facility has provided notice that the facility's request for critical designation status was rejected, denied, or otherwise disapproved by the electric utility; provided, however, that the electric utility communicated its determination in writing, and the decision was for reasons other than the lack of correct identifying information or other administrative reasons.

(3) [(2)] An applicant for exception shall submit a Form CI-X exception application that identifies each facility for which an exception is requested. The Form CI-X shall be accompanied by an exception application fee. The amount of the fee is $150 as established in Chapter 81, Texas Natural Resources Code.

(A) In the year 2022, the Form CI-X exception application shall be filed bi-annually by January 15, 2022, and either September 1, 2022, or 30 days from the date the map is produced by the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee, whichever is later. Beginning in 2023, the Form CI-X exception application shall be filed bi-annually by March 1 and September 1 of each year.

(B) Once an operator has an approved Form CI-X on file with the Commission, the operator is not required to pay the $150 exception application fee when the operator updates the facilities identified on its Form CI-X.

(f) [(g)] Providing critical customer information. A critical customer shall provide the critical customer information to the electric entities described in §25.52 of this title and Texas Utilities Code § 38.074(b)(1) unless the critical customer is granted an exception under subsection (e) [(f)] of this section. The critical customer information shall be provided in accordance with §25.52 of this title. The operator shall certify on its Form CI-D that it has provided the critical customer information to its electric entity.

(g) [(h)] Confidentiality of information filed pursuant to this section. A person filing information with the Commission that the person contends is confidential by law shall notify the Commission on the applicable form. If the Commission receives a request under the Texas Public Information Act (PIA), Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, for materials that have been designated confidential, the Commission will notify the filer of the request in accordance with the provisions of the PIA so that the filer can take action with the Office of the Attorney General to oppose release of the materials.

(h) [(i)] Exceptions not transferable. Exceptions are not transferable upon a change of operatorship. When a facility is transferred, both the transferor operator and the transferee operator shall ensure the transfer is reflected on each operator's Form CI-D or Form CI-X when the applicable form update is submitted in accordance with the bi-annual filing timelines in subsections (d) and (e) [(f)] of this section. If the facility has an exception under subsection (e) [(f)] of this section, the exception shall remain in effect until the next bi-annual filing deadline. If the transferee operator seeks to continue the exception beyond that time period, the transferee operator shall indicate the transferred facility on the Form CI-X pursuant to subsection (e) [(f)] of this section.

(i) [(j)] Failure to file or provide required information. An operator who fails to comply with this section may be subject to penalties under §3.107 of this title (relating to Penalty Guidelines for Oil and Gas Violations).

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 August 30, 2022.

TRD-202203325

Haley Cochran

Rules Attorney, Office of General Counsel

Railroad Commission of Texas

Earliest possible date of adoption: October 16, 2022

For further information, please call: (512) 475-1295


PART 4. TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING AND REGULATION

CHAPTER 114. ORTHOTISTS AND PROSTHETISTS

16 TAC §114.50

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (Department) proposes amendments to an existing rule at 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 114, §114.50, regarding the Orthotists and Prosthetists program. These proposed changes are referred to as the "proposed rule."

EXPLANATION OF AND JUSTIFICATION FOR THE RULE

The rules under 16 TAC, Chapter 114, implement Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 605, Orthotists and Prosthetists.

The proposed rule permits licensed orthotists and prosthetists to claim continuing education (CE) credit for completing the human trafficking prevention training required by Occupations Code, Chapter 116, and the jurisprudence examination required for initial licensure by Department rules. The proposed rule is necessary to expand the categories of CE credit in the existing Continuing Education rule. The changes are a result of recommendations from the Orthotists and Prosthetists Advisory Board workgroup and staff and were recommended by the full advisory board.

Advisory Board Recommendations

The proposed rule was presented to and discussed by the Orthotists and Prosthetists Advisory Board at its meeting on February 28, 2022. The Advisory Board did not make any changes to the proposed rule. The Advisory Board voted and recommended that the proposed rule be published in the Texas Register for public comment.

SECTION-BY-SECTION SUMMARY

The proposed rule amends §114.50, Continuing Education, by adding two new paragraphs in subsection (i) and making conforming edits to the punctuation of that subsection.

New §114.50(i)(8) adds the human trafficking prevention training required by Occupations Code, Chapter 116, to the list of acceptable sources of CE credit. No more than one hour of CE credit may be claimed by a licensee for completion of the human trafficking prevention training during a CE reporting period.

New §114.50(i)(9) adds completion of the jurisprudence examination to the list of acceptable sources of CE credit. Current Department rules in Chapter 114 do not require completion of the jurisprudence examination after initial licensure. The addition of this new paragraph permits a licensee to complete the examination for a one-hour CE credit in a CE reporting period even though the examination is not a requirement for renewal of a license.

FISCAL IMPACT ON STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Tony Couvillon, Policy Research and Budget Analyst, has determined that for each year of the first five years the proposed rule is in effect, enforcing or administering the proposed rule does not have foreseeable implications relating to costs or revenues of state or local governments.

LOCAL EMPLOYMENT IMPACT STATEMENT

Mr. Couvillon has determined that the proposed rule will not affect a local economy, so the agency is not required to prepare a local employment impact statement under Government Code §2001.022.

PUBLIC BENEFITS

Mr. Couvillon also has determined that for each year of the first five-year period the proposed rule is in effect, the public benefit will be an expansion of options for orthotists and prosthetist license holders to complete CE credit. License holders could also see a small decrease in the overall cost to complete continuing education.

PROBABLE ECONOMIC COSTS TO PERSONS REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH PROPOSAL

Mr. Couvillon has determined that for each year of the first five-year period the proposed rule is in effect, there are no anticipated economic costs to persons who are required to comply with the proposed rule.

FISCAL IMPACT ON SMALL BUSINESSES, MICRO-BUSINESSES, AND RURAL COMMUNITIES

There will be no adverse economic effect on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities as a result of the proposed rule. Because the agency has determined that the proposed rule will have no adverse economic effect on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities, preparation of an Economic Impact Statement and a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, as detailed under Texas Government Code §2006.002, are not required.

ONE-FOR-ONE REQUIREMENT FOR RULES WITH A FISCAL IMPACT

The proposed rule does not have a fiscal note that imposes a cost on regulated persons, including another state agency, a special district, or a local government. Therefore, the agency is not required to take any further action under Government Code §2001.0045.

GOVERNMENT GROWTH IMPACT STATEMENT

Pursuant to Government Code §2001.0221, the agency provides the following Government Growth Impact Statement for the proposed rule. For each year of the first five years the proposed rule will be in effect, the agency has determined the following:

1. The proposed rule does not create or eliminate a government program.

2. Implementation of the proposed rule does not require the creation of new employee positions or the elimination of existing employee positions.

3. Implementation of the proposed rule does not require an increase or decrease in future legislative appropriations to the agency.

4. The proposed rule does not require an increase or decrease in fees paid to the agency.

5. The proposed rule does not create a new regulation.

6. The proposed rule expands, limits, or repeals an existing regulation. The proposed rule expands the options available for license holders to earn continuing education credit.

7. The proposed rule does not increase or decrease the number of individuals subject to the rules' applicability.

8. The proposed rule does not positively or adversely affect this state's economy.

TAKINGS IMPACT ASSESSMENT

The Department has determined that no private real property interests are affected by the proposed rule and the proposed rule does not restrict, limit, or impose a burden on an owner's rights to his or her private real property that would otherwise exist in the absence of government action. As a result, the proposed rule does not constitute a taking or require a takings impact assessment under Government Code §2007.043.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted electronically on the Department's website at https://ga.tdlr.texas.gov:1443/form/gcerules ; by facsimile to (512) 475-3032; or by mail to Shamica Mason, Legal Assistant, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, P.O. Box 12157, Austin, Texas 78711. The deadline for comments is 30 days after publication in the Texas Register.

STATUTORY AUTHORITY

The proposed rule is proposed under Texas Occupations Code, Chapters 51 and 605, which authorize the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation, the Department's governing body, to adopt rules as necessary to implement these chapters and any other law establishing a program regulated by the Department.

The statutory provisions affected by the proposed rule are those set forth in Texas Occupations Code, Chapters 51 and 605. No other statutes, articles, or codes are affected by the proposed rule.

§114.50.Continuing Education.

(a) - (h) (No change.)

(i) Continuing education undertaken by a licensee shall be acceptable if the licensee attends and participates in an activity in the following categories:

(1) - (5) (No change.)

(6) instructing or presenting in activities listed in paragraphs (1) - (3). Multiple presentations of the same program or equivalent programs may only be counted once during a continuing education period; [and]

(7) writing a book or article applicable to the practice of prosthetics or orthotics. Four (4) credits for an article and eight (8) credits for a book will be granted for a publication in the continuing education period in which the book or article was published. Multiple publications of the same article or an equivalent article may only be counted once during a continuing education period. Publications may account for 25% or less of the required credit; [.]

(8) completing the human trafficking prevention training required under Occupations Code, Chapter 116, and §114.40(c)(6) of this chapter. A maximum of one (1) credit will be granted for completion of the training during a continuing education period; and

(9) completing the jurisprudence examination required by §114.22(b) of this chapter. Only one (1) self-directed study credit will be granted for completion of the examination during a continuing education period.

(j) - (q) (No change.)

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 September 1, 2022.

TRD-202203469

Brad Bowman

General Counsel

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

Earliest possible date of adoption: October 16, 2022

For further information, please call: (512) 463-7750