Virginia simplifies licensure for mental health professionals: 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. Virginia expedites licensing for social workers from out-of-state, Massachusetts simplifies licensure for military spouses, and more in our weekly look at regulatory news.

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Virginia simplifies licensure for mental health professionals

The Virginia Board of Social Work has taken new steps to address labor shortages in the mental health field within the state. Like many others, the state is passing measures intended to increase license mobility for professionals who relocate to Virginia after being licensed in other states. Under the new provisions, any applicant for a social worker license can be certified just by presenting a handful of documents, including verification of a license in good standing in another state. A 2021 report from the Virginia Health Care Foundation had found that nearly 70% of jurisdictions in the state had been designated as mental health professional shortage areas. Read more at The Center Square.

Massachusetts moves forward with interstate mobility for military spouses

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has signed into law a new bill simplifying interstate licensing for military spouses. In recent years, there has been a national push to expand license mobility for military spouses, who are often subject to sudden relocation. Under the Spouse Licensure Portability Education and Enrollment of Dependents Act (also known as the SPEED Act), spouses will be able to speed up the transfer of their professional licenses if they move to Massachusetts with family under military orders. The law will also allow military families to be granted “in-state” status at public educational institutions, qualifying them for lower tuition rates. The act could make Massachusetts a more attractive option for the U.S. military as it seeks a location for its new F-35A Lightening II fighter jets. Read more at MassLive.

Pennsylvania finalizes rules for six-year-old medical marijuana program

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, which has operated under temporary regulations since its launch in 2018, is now governed by a final set of rules approved by regulators this month. The approval comes on the heels of a lengthy debate over testing provisions, with the final rules requiring cannabis growers to have their product tested twice between cultivation and packaging for sale. Despite protests from trade groups, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has argued the rule will help the state hold growers accountable for the quality of their product. The new rules also include a provision requiring an on-site pharmacist at every cannabis dispensary. Read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

Two-thirds of American adults support marijuana scheduling reform, survey shows 

Two-thirds of Americans over the age of 18 support a plan from President Joe Biden to reform the U.S.’s approach to marijuana criminalization, according to a recent survey from USA Today. The three-step proposal, which was put forth on Oct. 6, includes a federal pardon for all possession-related offenses, a review of cannabis’s place in the Controlled Substances Act, and a push to pardon state-level marijuana possession offenses. The poll found that, while many Republicans still oppose cannabis reform, most Democrats and independents support certain parts of the President’s proposal – particularly its changes to how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. Read more at Cannabis Business Times. 

NL government pushes to expedite real estate licensure 

Real estate professionals in Newfoundland and Labrador may soon see a significant change in their licensing processes. The province’s government is pushing to amend the Real Estate Trading Act in a way that would streamline licensure for professionals and secure existing licenses that have not been cancelled by the superintendent. The new proposal also includes a provision allowing accredited third-party organizations to perform criminal background checks for prospective licensees. Bill Sterling, CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Realtors, said the new changes are a step forward in ensuring better consumer protection for all involved in the province’s real estate industry. Read more at SaltWire. 

More news: 

  • Cloud-based data may not be as secure as users would hope. A new survey from the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) has found that only four percent of leaders in IT believe their cloud data is adequately secured. The study also found that only eight percent of respondents believed they will likely not experience a data breach within the next year.  
  • A wellness clinic in British Columbia will soon begin charging monthly subscription fees for interested patients to have regular access to a family physician. A new interview from Maclean’s with clinic director Samantha Rocha touches on the details of the operation as well as patient responses to subscription fees and predictions of the future of health care.  
  • In the wake of a cyberattack on one of Australia’s leading telecom companies, Optus, the national government will be calling on parliament to penalize other companies that fall victim to such breaches. This political push also comes on the heels of a data breach at Medibank Private, one of the nation’s largest health care insurers. 

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

Health Care Regulation
Ohio lawmakers consider bill to localize licensure appeals: 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.
Ohio lawmakers consider bill to localize state agency licensure appeals, Canadian Medical Association welcomes new rules enabling health worker mobility in Ontario, and more in this week’s look at regulatory news.

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