New law puts international workers in the driver seat



Governor Perdue holds signing ceremony and special news conference to promote the importance of breaking down barriers to international economic development in Georgia. Supporters of SB 488 say the new law makes sense to allow foreign nationals to keep their home country driver?s license when obtaining a temporary Georgia license for up to three years.
ATLANTA (15 May 2008) ? In many countries, getting a driver?s license is a time-consuming, expensive process. Georgia?s requirement to surrender that hard-earned license after relocating here added a personal challenge for international workers.

Yesterday Governor Sonny Perdue called a special news conference that followed his signing into law a bill (SB 488) that allows foreign nationals to keep the driver?s license issued by their home country while obtaining a temporary Georgia license for up to three years. This is especially welcome news for individuals who work and travel between Georgia and their country of origin.
?We want to do everything we can to help workers who come to our state legally and contribute to our economy,? said Senator Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), author of the legislation. ?Although getting and keeping a driver?s license might seem like a small concern, it has a big impact on morale and productivity. This law eliminates an obstacle for international companies doing business in Georgia and makes our state even more attractive for investment and trade.?

Bipartisan co-sponsors were Senators Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville), Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), Minority Whip David Adelman (D-Decatur), and Judson Hill (R-Marietta). Representative David Casas (R-Lilburn) and other supporters helped shepherd the bill through the Georgia House.

The driver?s license issue was identified in 2007 during a German CEO roundtable hosted by Wayne Reece, president of Atlanta-based Reece & Associates. During that meeting, Jorge Fernandez, vice president of global commerce at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce heard about the issue in a conversation with Peter Schwarzenbauer, [former] CEO of Porsche Cars North America, which is based in Atlanta.

?When we looked into it,? Fernandez said, ?we realized that the law should be changed to eliminate what is essentially an undue hardship for international workers. This was a simple, straightforward bill that just made sense.?
To tackle the problem, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, along with strategic public affairs consulting by Reece & Associates, helped bring together Georgia?s international business community and the legislators who responded to their concerns by sponsoring and passing the new law.

Georgia is home to consulates, trade offices, and honorary consulates representing 60 countries. Hundreds of international companies and organizations operate regional offices or their North American headquarters in Georgia.

Joining Governor Perdue and Senator Rogers at the bill signing ceremony were consuls general from Argentina, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Representatives from international companies invested in Georgia, including Porsche Cars North America, IHG, Deloitte & Touche, JETRO, Grenzebach and Randstad Americas, also expressed support for the new law.

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