DENVER – The first bill to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk in the 2018 legislative session is a bipartisan agreement seen as a boon to Colorado’s nurses.
Senate Bill 27 passed the Colorado House of Representatives Wednesday morning, which changes the Nurse Licensure Compact to the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact—keeping many Colorado nurses from having to get a new state license.
Once signed by the governor, which is likely to happen this week, the bill will let the approximately 86,000 Colorado nurses who were already part of the NLC to be grandfathered in to the new agreement and to forgo an additional background check.
Proponents of the bill say that Colorado joining the updated program will put them in the same group with at least 25 other states that have already signed on, allowing nurses from those states to work across state lines where there is an agreement.
The compact goes into effect Jan. 19, so the governor is expected to sign the bill before Friday. The new compact will open the door to telehealth treatments and allow nurses to work in other states during natural disasters.
The bill had sponsors from both parties and both chambers after failing during last year’s session.
"I am pleased to see that the first bill of the session will improve health care in Colorado," said one of those sponsors, Rep. Hugh McKean, R-Loveland. "86,000 nurses can breathe easier knowing that they will not be required to get a different license to continue serving Coloradans, and I am grateful for the Colorado Legislature’s expedient work to pass this bill."
“Health care does not stop at state lines and we need to ensure our nursing staff don’t have to either,” said Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, who sponsored the bill in the House along with McKean. “This current compact has been operational and successful for more than 17 years. Our bipartisan bill allows Colorado nurses to maintain their multi-state license and join the enhanced nurse licensure compact.”
The bill was first introduced Jan. 10 and passed seven calendar days later.