Alberta regulators levy $31 million penalty against electric utility: Weekly regulatory news
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The Week in Brief is your weekly snapshot of regulatory news and what's happening in the world of professional licensing, government technology, and public policy. A Louisiana Senate committee defers its decision on a new occupational licensing reform bill, Windsor city councilors debate whether to license rental properties, and more in our Week in Brief.

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Ministry seeks input on proposed changes to bill regulating Ontario home builders, vendors

In late March, Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services put forth a bill proposing changes to the New Home Construction Licensing Act. The More Homes for Everyone Act intends to strengthen protections for homeowners and new home buyers. It also gives more power to the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA), which regulates new home builders and vendors in the province. The ministry is launching a consultation process wherein members of the public can provide critique and advice on the many proposed changes in the bill. The consultation process will last until April 29. Read more at Law Times News.

Louisiana Senate Commerce Committee defers occupational licensing reform bill

Louisiana’s Senate Bill 483 was drafted with the intention of allowing licensed professionals from other states to work in Louisiana, so long as both states have credentialing standards for the profession in question. The final decision on licensure would still be left to Louisiana regulators, who would also have the power to prescribe additional testing or training if necessary. Critics, mostly representatives from licensing boards, testified that the discrepancies in licensing standards between Louisiana and other states can be too large and variable to warrant the bill’s “shotgun” approach to multijurisdictional licensing. After hearing these concerns, the state’s Senate Commerce Committee chose to defer their decision on the bill until the week of April 18. Read more at New Orleans City Business.

Windsor city councilors debate whether to license rental properties

After investigating the possibility of licensing rental properties for nearly a year, city councilors in Windsor, Ontario, decide today whether to proceed with a pilot project to license these properties in just two of the city’s Wards. Under the project, only properties with four units or fewer would require licensing. Buildings also inhabited by the landlord (or a member of the landlord’s family) would be exempt as well. Preliminary research from 2021 shows that while licensing these properties could benefit tenants, for example, by normalizing property standards, the city budget would increase as more licensing and compliance staff comes aboard to handle the increased workload. After two years, councilors will examine the results and decide whether to apply the new standards to the entire city. Read more at Windsor News Today.

Alberta Utilities Commission enforcement staff levies $31 million penalty against utility

A recent investigation from the Alberta Utilities Commission found that regulated utility ATCO Electric purposefully overpaid a First Nation group to work on a new electric transmission line to Jasper before attempting to recoup the cost from Alberta consumers. ATCO Electric’s agreed statement of facts with the commission says the utility sole-sourced the contract because of a prior deal between an ATCO subsidiary and the First Nation group over other projects, including the development of work camps during ATCO’s expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

According to the statement of facts, ATCO Electric sought to secure the contract for the First Nation group out of fear that the group might otherwise partner with a different company on the pipeline work. The statement goes on to say ATCO Electric paid millions over market value for the Jasper line work — a sum they would attempt to recoup by jacking up rates for consumers. ATCO Electric has agreed to pay $31 million in restitution after the investigation, which was sparked by a whistleblower. Still, the agreement between the utility and the commission’s enforcement staff must be approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission itself. Read more at Global News.

New Mexico judge orders cannabis regulators, producer to agree on testing ‘regimen’

New Mexico cannabis producer Sacred Garden is under fire from the state’s Cannabis Control Division after reports of mold in the company’s cannabis flower. Instead of ruling on a motion from Sacred Garden requesting for the company to be allowed to continue selling its flower, Santa Fe state district judge Bryan Biedscheid called on the state’s regulatory authorities to work with Sacred Garden to establish an adequate testing “regimen” that can be completed by the week of April 22. It all started with a cease-and-desist letter from the Regulation and Licensing Department regarding a complaint from a medical cannabis patient about mold in Sacred Garden flower.

Authorities then inspected a Sacred Garden facility in Santa Fe and discovered several conditions that could “create a threat to public health.” After a prolonged back-and-forth between Sacred Garden, state regulators, and Biedscheid, including two hearings regarding what the company must do to fully reopen, Biedscheid tasked regulators and Sacred Garden both with developing an efficient and effective testing regimen by April 22, with results by April 25. If regulators do not approve the company to re-open, Biedscheid said he will schedule another hearing over the validity of this denial. Read more at the NM Political Report.

More news:

  • Iowa’s Supreme Court revoked the license of attorney John Karl Fischer after he received more than a dozen charges of ethics rule violations. The court’s Grievance Commission found that Fischer had misappropriated settlement funds and failed to comply with discovery requests and court orders. This followed reprimands given to Fischer in 2008 and 2012 for failing to act “diligently” on behalf of his client and for taking fees before receiving court authorization to do so, respectively.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office recently launched an investigation after receiving an alert from the tax collector’s office alleging that 137 license applicants had listed subcontractor Afsaneh Baghai-Amri’s home address as their own. After extensive surveillance, Baghai-Amri admitted that none of the applicants lived at her home, saying she was trying to help them find employment. She was also caught helping at least one man cheat on his driver’s license exam. Baghai-Amri was charged with 178 counts of providing illegal licenses as well as two felony charges over the exams.
  • Michigan’s recently renamed Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA), previously known as the Marijuana Regulatory Authority, has halted a plan which would have allowed hemp to be synthetically converted into THC in the state. While cannabis attorney Denise Policella cited public health concerns as the main reason for axing the plan, she also acknowledged opening the state to hemp-derived THC would allow producers to import abundant, low-cost hemp from outside of Michigan for processing, thereby crippling small-scale hemp farmers within the state.

Also noteworthy:

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Jordan Milian
Written byJordan Milian
Jordan Milian is a writer covering government regulation and occupational licensing for Ascend, with a professional background in journalism and marketing.

IN BRIEF

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British Columbia
BC expands licensure pathway for international doctors: Weekly regulatory news 

The Week in Brief is your weekly snapshot of regulatory news and what's happening in the world of professional licensing, government technology, and public policy.
British Columbia expands licensure pathway for internationally educated doctors, Ohio amendment could change the future of social work, proposal to reduce cosmetology licensure hours in Virginia sparks backlash, and more in our weekly look at regulatory news.

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