New nurse licensure compact bill considered

A bill that would clear the way for Nebraska to join the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact was considered Feb. 15 by the Health and Human Services Committee.

Sen. Steve Erdman

Nebraska currently is a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows nurses to have a multi-state license with the ability to practice in both their home state and other compact states.

Introduced by Bayard Sen. Steve Erdman, LB342 would amend portions of the state’s Nurse Practice Act to allow Nebraska to join the enhanced compact when it takes effect — either on Dec. 31, 2018, or when 26 states have joined.

The bill also would streamline the licensure process for military spouses located in Nebraska if they are licensed in a state that is part of the compact.

Erdman said 25 states currently have enacted legislation to join the enhanced compact and Nebraska needs to update its Nurse Practice Act in order not to be left behind when the new compact takes effect.

“This legislation would benefit Nebraskans and reduce the nursing shortage by allowing military spouses with nursing licenses — who often relocate every two years — to practice in the state,” he said.

Jenifer Roberts-Johnson, deputy director of the state Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health, testified in support of the bill. Nebraska has been a member of the nursing compact since its inception, she said, and would benefit from joining the enhanced compact, which will increase interstate communication regarding disciplinary cases among other benefits.

“Adoption of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact will ensure that Nebraska nurses continue to have mobility to practice in all participating states,” Roberts-Johnson said.

Kari Wade, testifying on behalf of the Nebraska Nurses Association, also supported the bill. The enhanced compact allows states to retain autonomy and authority to enforce their state practice acts, she said, and was developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

“The enhanced compact supports mobility in the nursing workforce by reducing the barriers to licensure by military spouses and for authorization of practice in times of disaster or increased need [across state lines],” Wade said.

No one testified in opposition to LB342 and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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