Kemp pulls back on license revision

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is backing off his attempt to change professional licensing procedures until next year.

He pitched the idea as a way to streamline the system of issuing more than 450,000 licenses, including professions from cosmetologists to engineers, and to speed up procedures to hear complaints against professionals, but many were unhappy with his idea.

Sen. Bill Hamrick, R-Carrollton, introduced an 800-plus-page bill to change the system for Kemp, which was heard in a committee earlier this week, but he withdrew Senate Bill 445 at Kemp's request Friday.

Kemp said, "We got some really good feedback in the committee hearing, and even though there was some opposition, there was a lot of agreement on speeding up licensing times and the enforcement part of it."

Kemp said the bill was too big to modify and get passed before the legislative session ends.  The bill would have had to pass one chamber of the General Assembly in the next five working days to have a chance at passage.

Licenses are issued by more than 40 professional boards in Georgia, who are appointed by the governor. Kemp supplies the staff for the boards. He proposed letting his staff and a new seven-member board take full responsibility for license approvals and disciplinary hearings, with the boards reduced to setting policies and advisory roles in licensing.

Barry Cranfill, an advanced-degree nurse who serves on the Board of Nursing, and others had expressed concern over the seven-member board having the expertise to make the call in some licensing or disciplinary cases.

"We are pleased to see that the secretary of state has chosen to rethink the process, and the board is willing to work with him or any other agency to continue to improve the processes and efficiencies for patients and licensees," Cranfill said.

Kemp said he will take the criticisms he heard and try again with revised legislation in 2013.