With one day to spare, (whew!) Gov. John Hickenlooper Thursday signed into law the first bill passed by the 2018 General Assembly, a measure to help Colorado nurses.
The new law would allow Colorado’s 78,000 nurses to participate in a 25-state compact that allows them to work across state lines. The compact had a deadline of Friday; without action Colorado nurses would have been limited to just four states that hadn’t passed a revised compact.
The bill, Senate Bill 27, started out in the Senate last Thursday, won final approval on a 33-0 vote on Friday, preliminary approval in the House Tuesday and a 58-2 vote on Wednesday. It’s not quite the record – bills can get through both chambers in as little as three days – but for an early session bill it’s quite the feat.
“But the speed with which Senator Jim Smallwood’s SB-27 flew through the Statehouse had heads spinning and showed how quickly lawmakers can move when they absolutely must,” the Senate GOP said in a statement Wednesday. Smallwood, a Parker Republican, teamed up with Sen. Nancy Todd, an Aurora Democrat, to get the bill started. In the House, the measure was sponsored by Rep. Hugh McKean, a Loveland Republican, and Rep. Tracy Kraft Tharp, an Arvada Democrat.
“Nurses are the unsung heroes of our medical community, and this legislation allows those licensed in the State of Colorado to practice outside of our state without the need for redundant, costly, and unnecessary licenses in other states,” Smallwood said. “SB-27 will facilitate telehealth nursing services, online education, and will even allow our nurses to assist other states in times of natural disaster.”
UPDATED: the Colorado Hospital Association also weighed in on the governor’s action. “Health care was once again the beneficiary of bipartisan efforts working to ensure that Colorado’s health care system remains strong and effective,” said Steven Summer, CHA President and CEO in a statement Thursday. “It is due to efforts like the [Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact] that Colorado continues to serve as a national model in how legislators can reach across the aisle to ensure patients and communities continue to have access to outstanding health care”.
Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City said he is optimistic that this won’t be the last time lawmakers find speedy solutions to Colorado problems.