Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber and Georgia HUB Chamber Council Celebrate the Passage of Military Spousal Licensing Reform

Mar. 26—VALDOSTA — The Georgia Hub Chamber Council, a policy coalition featuring leadership from 11 of the state's major Hub communities outside of metro Atlanta, has worked in close partnership with military installations across Georgia to advocate for the passage of significant reforms to the state's licensing procedures for military spouses. On March 20, House Bill 880 passed the House of Representatives and now heads to the desk of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

"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. "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. We commend Rep. Bethany Ballard (R-Warner Robins) and the Georgia General Assembly for their efforts to see this legislation across the finish line."

Currently, military spouses routinely lose six to nine months of income due to wait times associated with the transfer of occupational licenses, the chamber said. HB 880 brings Georgia into compliance with the "Federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act" by ensuring that qualified military spouses may obtain their Georgia occupational license within 30 days of application after receiving official orders of a permanent change of station.

"Georgia's military spouses face a 21 percent unemployment rate compared to 3.7 percent for the general population, impacting the financial security of military families and the readiness of our active-duty military personnel," said Barbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Georgia Chamber Hub Council, many of whose members represent military communities. "The updates proposed by HB 880 strengthen Georgia as a military state and will directly benefit our state's military families and the greater economy by providing a streamlined pathway to employment in some of Georgia's highest-demand careers. "

The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Hub Chamber Council and commendd the work of all who have dedicated time to this issue over the past two years, according to a press release from the local chamber.

"The government affairs team from the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber has worked for many years to improve the licensing process for the spouses of military service members. The passage of HB 880 is a huge victory for our Chamber, community, and all military communities in Georgia," said Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber President Christie Moore.

To learn more about the Georgia Hub Chamber Council and its efforts to advocate for the citizens and businesses of Georgia's Hub communities, visit www.gachamber.com/hub-council/.