Massachusetts Senators move forward with driver’s license reform: 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. Massachusetts senators garner a veto-overriding majority for licensure reform, Tennessee eases credentialing restrictions for DACA recipients, and more in our latest Week in Brief.

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Massachusetts State Senate greenlights driver’s license reform despite potential veto 

Earlier this month, Massachusetts state senators voted 32-8 in favor of a long-debated proposal to expand driver’s license access to undocumented immigrants. This constitutes enough of a majority to override any potential veto from Governor Charlie Baker, who has formally opposed the measure. Proponents argue the proposal would promote road safety, ensuring that some of the state’s 185,000 undocumented immigrants can receive proper testing before driving. Immigration reform advocates add that the measure could help to avoid traumatic family separations brought on by things like routine traffic stops. Critics, like Senator Bruce Tarr, say the licenses could be misused for “various purposes.” Read more at MetroWest Daily News. 

New Tennessee law eases licensure restrictions for DACA recipients

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has signed into law a new measure intended to allow certain immigrants to become licensed in their preferred trade. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applies to over 7,000 undocumented immigrants in the state. The Workforce Expansion Bill will grant licensure access to these recipients as well as 3,000 Temporary Protected Status holders. In passing the measure, Tennessee joins states like Florida, Arkansas, and Mississippi, all of which have created similar special licensure pathways for DACA recipients. Read more about the law at NewsChannel5 Nashville.

Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority slated to become standalone state agency

State senators have approved a new bill that would make the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) a freestanding state agency, moving it out of the state’s Department of Health. Proponents of the move, like Senator Greg Treat, argue that continuing under the Department of Health would shield OMMA from receiving proper oversight and prevent the agency from adequately enforcing the state’s regulations around medical marijuana. The proposal arrives amidst allegations that illegal grow operations are being disguised as legitimate medical cannabis cultivation within the state. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics reported that it shut down 85 illicit cannabis farms between April 2021 and February 2022. Under the proposed measure, OMMA’s executive director would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Read more at Ganjapreneur and The Oklahoman.

Delaware House votes to move toward cannabis legalization

Proponents of cannabis legalization in Delaware are celebrating a substantial step forward as state House members recently passed legislation eliminating penalties for adults (21 and older) possessing up to an ounce of marijuana. The bill, which passed on May 6 with a three-fifths majority of 26-14 votes, comes on the heels of a separate legalization measure which failed to pass nearly two months ago. This prior bill also included the establishment of a state-regulated marijuana industry. When it failed in March, lawmakers retooled the legislation and separated it into two discrete bills. The other bill, which outlines industry regulation and taxation, has not yet seen a vote, though one is expected to take place in the coming weeks. Read more at High Times 

US regulator proposes million-dollar fine from Colonial Pipeline after 2021 cyberattack

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is proposing civil penalties of $986,000 after Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the nation, experienced a ransomware attack in May 2021. The attack forced some states to declare a state of emergency, while panicked drivers stockpiled gasoline and fuel prices temporarily shot upward. Colonial Pipeline paid the attackers for assistance in recovering compromised files, but even still, the pipeline was shut down for five days while the company attempted to restore systems. The PHMSA argues that the company was not properly prepared for such an attack, and that its negligence worsened the national impacts of the shutdown. Read more at SecurityWeek.

UK government plans new competition rules for Big Tech firms 

A new regulator within the U.K. government, the Digital Markets Unit (DMU), has formed with the intention of reining in “predatory practices” from Big Tech firms like Google and Facebook. Though new rules have not yet been implemented (the government says legislation will be introduced “in due course”), they will involve levying penalties against tech companies that abuse their status as giants in the digital field. The DMU will also provide consumer-focused protections, including handing citizens more control over the use of their data and making it easier to switch between phone operating systems without losing valuable information. This decision arose from tension between Big Tech and smaller news organizations, which government leaders say are being boxed out as firms like Meta and Google post record profits. Read more on the BBC website. 

More news: 

  • A historic meeting took place between Siksika Health Services and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA), where regulators discussed and heard comments about racist discrimination faced by Indigenous people. 
  • Jeffrey Rutledge, a Vancouver stockbroker, has been accused by investment regulators of conducting unauthorized transfers of nearly $1.8 million and US$255,600. Among other offenses, Rutledge allegedly used documents with forged signatures to make wire transfers totaling near $900,000 to an outside law firm. 
  • Government regulators in Buenos Aires are planning a public, decentralized, blockchain-based digital identity platform, according to an as-yet unfinished white paper. As it is currently being planned, the system could use biometrics to help citizens access city services and conduct private transactions. 
  • A Pennsylvania state representative has introduced a bill that would revoke medical marijuana licenses for businesses with ties to Russian companies. Representative Danilo Burgos argued that in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian businesses should not be able to profit off the state’s medical cannabis industry. 

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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.

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