Secretary Basil L. Merenda and Deputy Commissioner Mark Vessella held a Business Licensing Board Roundtable discussion meeting in Harrisburg on Dec. 9. This was the second time the business licensing board chairs, administrators and division chiefs gathered for a joint meeting.
Secretary Merenda revived the joint roundtable meetings this year. They had been a regular occurrence in the past. The first health board meeting, held in July, proved to be very successful in raising issues that affected multiple health-related boards. The first business board meeting in September succeeded in bringing together a diverse group of professionals to discuss common issues and concerns.
During the December meeting, Secretary Merenda discussed the latest developments in the transition of administrations. Secretary Merenda and Department of State leaders have been meeting with the department’s transition team to inform them of key issues and prepare the new administration to continue the department’s good work. Secretary Merenda is pleased with the cooperative nature of the transition and anticipates a smooth process.
The meeting also featured Cal Shields, director of the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation (BEI), who provided an in-depth overview of the bureau, its employees and processes. The bureau of 160 employees, many of whom are retired police officers, conducts investigations of licensees, primarily based on complaints. Investigations typically take four months to complete. Although the Philadelphia BEI office is the busiest, the Pittsburgh and Scranton offices also handle a great number of high profile cases.
Topics of group discussion included the use of paperless agendas, continuing education requirements and whether former board members could serve as expert witnesses in disciplinary cases. In addition, it was announced that the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) 2011 Annual Educational Conference will be held in Pittsburgh from Sept. 8-10.
Secretary Merenda hopes that the department has reestablished a precedent for these board roundtable meetings for the next administration to continue. The group plans to reconvene in April.