Mon, May 20, 2024

Legislation to boost military spouse employment in the CSRA

“Georgia is home to 11 military installations that contribute more than $19 billion in economic impact annually to our state,” said Georgia Chamber President and CEO, Chris Clark in a news release. “The spouses of our active-duty service members deserve the opportunity to live, work, and raise their families here in Georgia without the burden of excessive wait times for their occupational licenses.”

A bill that will have a far-reaching impact on the families of soldiers stationed at Fort Eisenhower is awaiting Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) signature. The Georgia House and Senate have approved House Bill 880 and sent it to the governor for his review.

HB 880 changes the way military spouses with careers that require a professional license can receive an expedited Georgia license. Currently, it can take nearly a year to receive a Georgia license.

“Military spouses are first of all special,” Dr. Tom Clark, Executive Director of the Alliance for Fort Eisenhower told ABD. “They uproot their entire lives every four to five years, and they follow their spouse to the next duty assignment. What didn’t follow them was an automatic certification that they were professional at. It didn’t automatically transfer to the state of Georgia. This house bill ensures that those spouses continue to work.”

Specifically, HB 880 says a spouse holding a current and valid professional license in another state can apply for an expedited license by endorsement allowing them to work in Georgia. They do not have to wait until they relocate to Georgia. Once the spouse’s family member receives military orders, the application for expedited review can be filed.

In her email newsletter, “The 706,” Sue Parr, President and CEO of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, said “House Bill 880 will support military spouses new to Georgia by providing accelerated license portability from other states and effectively provide for employment from day one. Currently, persons seeking reciprocal licensing with Georgia when licensed in another state often takes months to process leaving military service members and their families with only one income and at a time when families need the most in resources due to relocation.”

Clark said he remembers the financial difficulties from his early days in the Army.

‘Day job of defending freedom and the American way of life. The night jobs augment the pay to do that. I remember being a young private and I swore I didn’t have two nickels to rub together. So, this is a game changer.”

The additional pool of employees can help Georgia businesses fill open positions. Clark said it can also impact Georgia’s workforce over the long term.

“Twenty-eight hundred service members a year get out from Fort Eisenhower. If we can make their transition easier in the state of Georgia, their decision to stay here is easier,” he said.

When Gov. Kemp was in town for the April 2 groundbreaking for the Columbia County hospital, he confirmed for ABD that HB 880 is among the bills going through a mandatory legal review prior to being signed.

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