Senators debate adding Guam to the Nurse Licensure Compact; bill placed on voting file

Sen. Sabina Perez (PNC file photo)

A measure proposing an open solution to the island’s nurse staffing challenges was moved to the voting file during Thursday’s session.

Bill 13-36 was placed on third reading. Once passed, it would add Guam to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), making it easier for nurses in other NLC states to practice on Guam.

If enacted, Bill 13-36 would further enable nurses in other compact states to provide telehealth services to patients, as well as allow nurses to immediately cross state borders and provide vital services on Guam in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, without the need to wait for an emergency declaration.

The measure was authored by Sen. Mary Camacho Torres, and co-sponsored by Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes and Senator Amanda L. Shelton.

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While the bill would allow other nurses to practice here on Guam, and vice versa, the issue of outmigration of the island’s nurses moving to other states for better opportunities was also raised. Unless pay and parity issues for nurses on Guam are addressed.

Sen. Sabina Perez said: “The disparity between Guam and the states is huge and I think the outmigration of nurses is really real and when you look at the survey, i mean it was said that 98 of those who responded would like to join.”

Sen. Joanne Brown said: The bigger issue here really does come down to the salary because i’m sure most of our people, if they could get a competitive salary here, they would want to stay here where they have their home, they have their family, and they have their support network.”

Meanwhile, the Legislature also went into the Committee of the Whole to deliberate on Bill 1-36

The legislation proposes to temporarily waive the payment of business license fees from October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2022, and to retroactively allow credit for fees that have already been paid.