Lawmakers quickly pass bill to keep traveling nurses in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s not often something moves this quickly through the Roundhouse and onto the governor’s desk, but a push to keep New Mexico from losing nurses did just that.

Wednesday afternoon, the Senate raced to pass the Nurse Licensure Compact bill. Thursday, the House passed it too. It’s now up to Gov. Martinez to sign off on the bill.

New Mexico’s Interstate Nursing Compact expires Friday, Jan. 19. It allows nurses to come here and practice without a New Mexico-specific license, namely travel nurses. It also allows New Mexico nurses to practice in other states.

In 2015, a national nursing group required states to update their end of the compact, and New Mexico never introduced legislation to come into compliance.

After concern started circulating on social media months ago, lawmakers made this a top priority.

“It was an urgent situation, but thankfully we were able to get bipartisan support from both chambers, both sides of the aisle and agreement from the governor that this became a reality,” Sen. Howie Morales (D-Silver City) said.

The Nurse Licensure Compact is the first bill to head to the governor’s desk this session.

During her State of the State address on Tuesday, the governor already indicated she will sign off on it.

Many of New Mexico’s travel nurses work at schools, clinics and hospitals in rural areas where it’s difficult to hire healthcare professionals.

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