Raffensperger Leads on Small Business Relief & Cuts Red Tape, GAWorks Commission Launches New Initiatives to Get Georgians Back to Work

January 22nd, 2024

Atlanta - Last week, the GAWorks Licensing Commission concluded its sessions, wrapping up a year-long effort in 2023 dedicated to addressing the needs of Georgia's growing workforce. Their focus was on dismantling bureaucratic obstacles to employment, with the aim of positioning small businesses and professionals across the state for successful entrepreneurship. The commission, comprised of bipartisan leadership, unveiled a set of recommendations for the General Assembly, centering around themes such as reciprocity, modernization, administrative reforms, and enhanced licensing accessibility.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Chairman of the commission, emphasized the thoroughness of the recommendations, stating, “These proposals are the result of the commission's extensive efforts in 2023 to gather input from licensed professionals, industry stakeholders, and the public. Enacting these proposals will undoubtedly benefit Georgia's licensed professionals and massively improve our state’s outdated licensing process.”

“The GAWorks Licensing Commission spent the time to listen and gather feedback from those most impacted by our licensing system," said Savannah Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bert Brantley. "I especially want to thank those that joined us and shared both the successes and frustrations of our current framework. Hopefully, the work of the Commission has laid the groundwork for the General Assembly to modernize Georgia’s professional licensing infrastructure.”

Representative Doug Stoner, a Cobb County Democrat, stated, “I’m proud to have been a part of this commission, as we’re taking the necessary steps in modernizing Georgia’s workforce. Georgia’s licensed professionals will be better off, and more of them will be hard at work, once these proposals become law.”

The key recommendations include:
• Expanding reciprocity for out-of-state licenses
• Adopting the Utah model for licensing foreign-trained professionals
• Allowing licensing based on substantially similar education, experience, and testing requirements from the individual's home country
• Implementing an Electronic Continuing Education Tracker for licenses requiring CE
• Sustaining support for the GOALS licensing software rollout
• Establishing direct electronic transfer of information where technologically feasible
• Granting administrative authority to Professional Licensing staff for issuing licenses
• Bolstering support for the Professional Licensing Division
• Introducing Criminal Record Preclearance
• Adding justifications to each board in response to the Georgia Supreme Court Decision, demonstrating a legitimate government interest behind regulations
• Conducting a review of existing licensing to ensure compliance with the Georgia Constitution following the recent Georgia Supreme Court decision

The commission comprised a diverse group of members, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, COO Gabriel Sterling, Senators Mike Dugan and Sonya Halpern, Representatives Leesa Hagan, Brian Prince, Doug Stoner, and Steve Tarvin, along with Senator Sheikh Rahman, Senator Larry Walker, Craig Knowles Chair of the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy, Tripp Mitchell of the Georgia Board of Private Detectives and Security Agencies, Chris Clark (President & CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce), Katie Kirkpatrick (President & CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce), and Bert Brantley (President & CEO of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce).

These policy proposals are anticipated to transform into legislation during the ongoing session of the General Assembly, reflecting the commission's commitment to bipartisan leadership and its vision for reducing government red tape and supporting the thriving ecosystem of small businesses and professionals in Georgia.