Bill filed to fix professional license backlog

A bill filed Thursday on behalf of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp would try to fix the backlog, created by the state’s immigration law, of people seeking state-issued professional licenses.

Kemp has said his office is weeks behind processing nearly a half-million applications it grants or renews annually for license applicants — everyone from accountants to barbers to plumbers. The cause is an unintended consequence of the immigration law requiring people to show certain forms of identification before they can get public benefits, including professional licenses.

The law, passed in 2011, aimed to block illegal immigrants from getting benefits they are not entitled to receive. But now every mailed, faxed, hand-delivered or emailed photocopy of someone’s driver’s license, passport or government-issued ID must be manually inspected every time a professional license is requested or renewed.

House Bill 32, sponsored by state Rep. Dusty Hightower, R-Carrollton, would require applicants to submit proof of citizenship only once. The bill is supported by the National Federation of Independent Business.