LB342 – Nursing Reciprocity and Military Spouse Occupational Licensing Reform
Good afternoon, Chairman Riepe and members of the Health and Human Services Committee. My name is Nicole Fox, and I am the Director of Government Relations for the Platte Institute for Economic Research. Thank you, Senator Erdman, for introducing LB 342. I am here today to testify in support of this bill.
Currently, Nebraska is one of 25 member states of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) which was originally formed in 2000. The NLC allows nurses to have one multistate license, allowing them to practice in their home state as well as other state belonging to the compact. Nurses moving across state lines from one Compact state to another are spared having to fill out additional license applications and pay additional licensing fees. Since that time, the compact has undergone multiple revisions resulting in new model legislation known as the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). The new compact updates NURSYS, the only national database for verification of nurse licensure by providing more rapid and efficient exchanges of information to aid in faster verifications for a more efficient licensure process.
Nebraska faces a workforce shortage, and occupational licensing creates a significant labor force issue. Like the entire U.S., Nebraska faces a critical shortage of nurses. The aging Baby Boomer population is dramatically increasing the demand for nurses. According to the Nebraska Center for Nursing, it is anticipated that about half of all Nebraska nurses will retire in the next 10 years. The state's current shortfall is projected to be nearly 4,000 nurses by 2020. Reform of occupational licensing laws to lessen burdensome regulation is a critical workforce issue that needs to be addressed.
LB 342 will amend sections of the Nurse Practice Act to streamline nurse licensure for military spouses moving to Nebraska and provide updated language for adoption of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). This is a step in the right direction to both allow these nurses to be able to work and earn an income sooner as well as help address the nursing shortage crisis facing our state. Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa and Missouri are bordering states that belong to the original 25 states which make up the current NLC, but to date, only South Dakota stands as the only border state of the 9 states that have adopted the eNLC. Advancing LB 342 will make Nebraska competitive and raise the bar for the rest of the original compact states to adopt the enhancements to the Compact.
The Platte Institute for Economic Research strongly supports occupational licensing reform as a means of lessening burdens to those trying to enter the state’s workforce. I ask that you advance LB 342 out of committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am happy to answer any questions the committee may have.