Kansas signs Counseling Compact into law: Weekly regulatory news
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The Week in Brief is your weekly snapshot of regulatory news and what's happening in the world of professional licensing, government technology, and public policy. This week in regulatory news, two Louisiana veterinarians plan to pursue legal action against a state licensing board, Utah opens a new policy lab, nurse unions in Nevada push back against the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), and much more.

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Kansas adopts multistate Counseling Compact: Week in Brief Podcast
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Kansas signs Counseling Compact into law 

Kansas has become the 21st state to implement the multistate Counseling Compact, joining Georgia, Maryland, Florida, Maine, Utah, and many others in granting professional counselors the privilege to practice across state lines. Prior to the establishment of the compact, counselors had struggled to transfer their licenses between states and jurisdictions because of unique regulations within each one.  

Professional counselors who are licensed in Kansas can now practice in other compact member states without the need for additional certification. Governor Laura Kelly said two major advantages of having the bill signed would be the expansion of the state’s workforce and increased access to mental health care services for its citizens. 

Andrew Secor, President of the Kansas Counseling Association, expressed gratitude on behalf of counselors throughout the state that the measure was passed. The Counseling Compact, which was finalized in December 2020, has thus far been introduced in 22 states this legislative session, which means many more states may soon enjoy uniform licensure requirements in the field. Read more from the American Counseling Association. 

Governor opens Utah Policy Innovation Lab with ceremonial bill signing

At the opening of the new Utah Policy Innovation Lab, a working space for higher education institutions and policy experts in downtown Salt Lake City, Governor Spencer Cox ceremonially signed seven pieces of legislation intended to promote innovation throughout the state. The lab recently partnered with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute to promote a data-driven approach in its work on state policy.

Among the bills signed was SB35, or the Reciprocal Professional Licensing Amendments. This legislation streamlines the licensing process for professionals coming from other jurisdictions so that they may continue working in their field without additional accreditation. Under the new bill, these professionals need only contact the Utah Division of Professional Licensing for the privilege to practice.

The Governor also signed HB470, which lays the foundation for digital verifiable credentials throughout Utah. The bill will allow for the creation of a working group to establish a statewide digital records system. To Gov. Cox, the ceremonial signings and the opening of the lab show the state government’s intention to solidify innovation as an ideological priority in policymaking decisions. Read more at KSL.com. 

Nurse unions express doubt over multijurisdictional licensing measures 

As Nevada lawmakers attempt to implement the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) in the state, labor unions are pushing back on the grounds that interstate licensing would undermine collective bargaining powers for nurses on the whole. These unions, mostly affiliated with the AFL-CIO, argue that interstate licensure as a measure to fight labor shortages fails to address working conditions in hospitals. 

Union representatives believe interstate licensing would benefit hospitals more than it would benefit nurses, pointing to massive hospital profits at times of severe staffing shortages as a sign of poor health worker treatment. Renee Ruiz, of National Nurses United, said outright the compact “does not help,” and that what helps is “employers who want to work with nurses and who want to improve conditions and improve patient care.” 

Sandra Jauregui, Nevada’s Democratic Assembly Majority Leader, said the bill to implement the NLC does not necessarily purport to alleviate the state’s nursing shortage – only that it could enable nurse mobility at times when shortages are at their most extreme. Jauregui also said the bill was not intended to undermine collective bargaining among nursing unions. Read more at Nevada Current. 

New Washington bills aim to reduce nursing shortages 

Two bills intended to address nursing shortages in Washington – one by forcing hospitals to follow staffing standards and the other by entering the state into a multijurisdictional nursing compact – have reached the desk of Governor Jay Inslee. Proponents believe both bills will reduce health care worker burnout and alleviate staff shortages in hospitals throughout the state. 

While nurse unions have long advocated for the implementation of staff-patient ratios, this effort has always been met with pushback from hospital officials who argue they simply do not have the staff numbers to enforce them. One of the new bills represents a compromise in that, despite not enforcing ratios, it mandates hospitals to create and adhere to staffing plans, which nurse unions say will make hospitals into more sustainable work environments. 

The other bill enters Washington into the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which currently comprises 39 jurisdictions in the U.S. While hospital officials believe this could help to address staff shortages, nurse unions are more skeptical, arguing that interstate licensure as an end goal overlooks some fundamental issues in hospital working conditions – not unlike what is happening in Nevada. Read more at The Spokesman-Review. 

More news: 

  • Some qualified candidates for teacher licensure in Virginia are facing serious delays as the result of a massive backlog in the state’s application system. Virginia also faces a teacher shortage with over 3,500 full-time job vacancies in its educational system. Lawmakers are attempting to address the issue with a new automated licensure application system, which they hope to have up and running by the beginning of next year. 
  • The Advanced Nuclear State Collaborative, a recently launched initiative bringing together energy policy officials from across the U.S., is attempting to lay the groundwork for a stronger focus on nuclear generation as a clean energy alternative throughout the country. Officials say the initiative will inform states on how nuclear energy can “fit into their communities.” 
  • A new Senate bill in Delaware could exempt religious child care centers from health and safety regulation requirements that are to take effect next year. Critics of the bill have expressed concern that children attending these religious centers could be endangered, while some religious education centers say complying with facility regulations as they are would not be feasible, and they would have to close if the new bill were not passed. 

Also noteworthy:

Interesting opinion, commentary, and analysis from the web:

Disclaimer: The thoughts, opinions, and commentary of the articles we share links to in Week in Brief do not necessarily reflect those of Ascend Magazine or Thentia. 

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Jordan Milian
Written byJordan Milian
Jordan Milian is a writer covering government regulation and occupational licensing for Ascend, with a professional background in journalism and marketing.

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