State Board Report

April 2012

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has stepped back from his plan to take authority from 43 licensing boards, which govern 460,000 professionals, and give it to a new seven-consumer-member board appointed by the governor (SB 445). His goal is to expedite the professional licensing and license renewal procedures. “If we can knock out 70 to 80 or 90 percent of the applications that are clean, we can reduce the number of board meetings,” Mr. Kemp said. The existing professional licensing boards would be converted to professional licensing policy boards composed of licensees and professional association members. On February 24 Mr. Kemp released a statement: “I was elected to be a leader and public servant, which means increasing operations efficiency in each agency division and reducing regulations for license holders and entrepreneurs. I would rather spend the coming year crafting a bill that addresses the needs and concerns of all parties than to haphazardly rush the legislative process.”

In response to critics of the plan, Secretary Kemp said that in 2011, the call center for the professional licensing boards received 58,094 calls from applicants requesting the status of their license application. Since 2008, the budget for Georgia’s professional licensing boards division was cut 17 percent, which resulted in board staff being reduced from 126 to 86. Mr. Kemp claims his plan would allow him to leverage the limited resources he has. The proposed Georgia Board of Licensing and Regulation (GBLR) would hear appeals on decisions of the Secretary of State’s office and hold hearings for passage of rules.

Secretary Kemp claims licensees in the state are “waiting a month or longer to get their license.” NASBA’s processing time for a Georgia CPA license is approximately five days, NASBA Director of Client Services Patricia Hartman reports.

Mr. Kemp wrote to a critic, “To address the prevailing concern of how the GBLR could make rules for a profession in which it is not an expert, it is important to remember that the creation of rules is limited by the enacting statute. A proposed rule will be heard and judged on its merits and if it is a good rule that complies with the statute, it will be adopted.”

The Georgia Secretary of State’s enforcement staff contains 16 post certified investigators and 10 inspectors. Mr. Kemp comments: “The investigators and inspectors have the experience and training to know when an investigation or inspection requires the knowledge of an industry expert or when there is a routine violation. Therefore I am puzzled by the board members who are so adamantly opposed to formalizing this work.”

According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Secretary of State Kemp had looked for the support of Governor Nathan Deal. However, a spokeswoman for the Governor said he would support a streamlined concept for licensure and renewals, but he also supports the policy expertise of the 43 boards.

NASBA supported the Georgia Board of Accountancy’s and the Georgia Society of CPAs’ opposition to this bill. NASBA’s President Ken L. Bishop commented: “While arguments for consolidation sometimes seem to have some validity, the tendency to treat the regulation of the accounting profession, with its complexities and national and global links, the same as all other regulatory boards is problematic. In truth, the Georgia Accountancy Board’s ability to protect the public would be enhanced by greater, not lesser, autonomy. We were pleased that Governor Deal recognized the importance of relying on the policy expertise of the members of the Georgia Board of Accountancy.”

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