New State Committee to Investigate Delays in Professional Licensing

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

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The top leaders of the Georgia House and Senate are forming a joint committee to investigate reports of delays in the processing of business licenses by the secretary of state’s office.

“We have received numerous complaints from businesses across Georgia regarding substantial inefficiencies in reviewing and obtaining the licenses and certifications necessary for their operation,” House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, said Monday.

“In response, we have appointed a joint committee to identify opportunities for improvement – and subsequently determine a path forward for resolving this critical issue.”

“It has become increasingly clear that the secretary of state is incapable of handling such duties,” added Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, the state Senate’s presiding officer. “We must ensure that the government is not impeding Georgians from starting or expanding businesses.”

In response, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said his office’s Professional Licensing Division historically has been underfunded.

“Small business owners are expecting the level of service that they are paying for, yet the majority of their fees are being redirected to the general fund,” Raffensperger wrote in a letter to Burns and Jones dated Tuesday.

“As secretary of state, I believe that 100% of fees should go toward servicing the applicant. … It’s time for the funds to follow the applicant.”

Raffensperger formed and led a commission last year that looked for ways to reform the state’s business licensing process. Several of its recommendations were incorporated into legislation the General Assembly passed this year, including bills expediting the licensing process for military spouses and allowing veterans to use their military experience toward licensure as a certified nursing aide.

But two other bills the secretary backed fell by the wayside, Raffensperger wrote.

“House Bill 1096 would have allowed for the professional licensing division to move to a completely modern mode of tracking continuing education, and freed up my staff to focus on processing new applications, instead of hand-auditing continuing education,” he wrote.

“House Bill 1190 would have allowed for our division director to administratively issue not-controversial licenses instead of requiring applicants to wait for their application to be heard by a licensing board, some of which meet only every few months.”

Raffensperger added that funding help is on the way. The new fiscal year beginning in July will mark the first time the licensing division will receive an operating budget of more than $10 million.