Two important steps were taken this week to maintain Wisconsin’s status as a nurse licensure compact state. During a meeting of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee October 17, WHA Vice President, Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk and Board of Nursing (BON) Chair Sheryl Krause testified in support of Senate Bill 417, and the next day, compact legislation, Assembly Bill 500 passed the Assembly Health Committee on a unanimous vote.
Since 2000, Wisconsin has been a part of an interstate nurse licensure agreement, which reduces regulatory burden on nurses looking to practice in Wisconsin and provides nurses with license portability to treat patients in other states. In 2015, the compact was updated and quickly adopted by 26 states—initiating the process for states in the current nurse licensure compact to transfer to the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (known as the eNLC).
“High-quality health care attracts high quality professionals, and Wisconsin health care is ranked at or near the top by many national measures,” said Zenk to members of the Committee. “Sustaining membership in a nurse licensure compact by joining the enhanced compact will benefit high-quality health care by making it easier for patients to access care by Wisconsin nurses and removing regulatory barriers for nurses successfully recruited to work in Wisconsin’s high-quality health care facilities.”
Krause noted, “After hearing positive feedback from nurses across the state, and organizations like the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Organization of Nurse Executives, the Wisconsin Nurses Association and various health systems, during the Board of Nursing hearing, the Board unanimously voted to support joining the enhanced nurse licensure compact.” Krause, who also serves as the emergency department director at Fort HealthCare said, “Enactment of this bill must be expedited to ensure a smooth transition into the new compact.”
WHA has been working closely with the BON, the Department of Safety and Professional Services and several health care and nursing organizations to enact this legislation before the end of 2017. The eNLC will be effective January 19, 2018, requiring the Legislature to enact a bill before that time to ensure nurses in Wisconsin can continue to take advantage of this important interstate licensing agreement.
Senate Bill 417 and Assembly Bill 500 are authored by Sen. Howard Marklein and Rep. Nancy VanderMeer. The bill has a total of 96 lawmakers either coauthoring or sponsoring the legislation, thanks to the efforts of WHA’s legislative partners and our HEAT grassroots network. After receiving committee hearings and committee votes, the legislation will move to the floor of the full state Assembly and Senate. Those two chambers meet for the last time in 2017 from October 31 through November 9. WHA expects the eNLC to pass through the Wisconsin Legislature before the end of this fall floor period.
For additional information on Wisconsin’s eNLC legislation, contact Ann Zenk at 608-274-1820 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals who want to stay up to date on this and other important legislation as well as take action on those issues should contact WHA’s Jenny Boese at email@example.com or join WHA’s grassroots advocacy program, HEAT, at www.wha.org/heat-grassroots-advocacy.aspx.
See WHA’s testimony and the BON’s testimony.