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Clayton County Legislative Delegation expecting faster 2014 General Assembly session

State Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro) discusses some pending issues facing the Georgia General Assembly during the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative breakfast Thursday. Davenport said an earlier primary election date may mean a faster end to the legislative session. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

State Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro) discusses some pending issues facing the Georgia General Assembly during the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative breakfast Thursday. Davenport said an earlier primary election date may mean a faster end to the legislative session. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

MORROW — Clayton County legislators told business leaders they expect the Georgia General Assembly’s 2014 to move faster than normal Thursday.

The legislators addressed the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative update breakfast to discuss pending legislative issues that could affect the county. Much of the discussion focused on mass transit and what the legislators felt was the Clayton County Board of Commissioners responsibility to bring it back.

Other issues legislators said they expect to see come up in 2014 included immigration, health care and raising the minimum wage level. However, the biggest news about what to expect may have been how legislators are not expected to dilly-dally during their upcoming session under the Gold Dome.

“This will probably be one of the fastest moving sessions we’ve ever had,” said state Rep. Darryl Jordan (D-Riverdale).

Several legislators said they expect an earlier court-mandated federal primary date to move the legislative session along more swiftly next year.

The general assembly holds a 40-day session each year, but they don’t always meet every day of the week. There are breaks in between legislative days for committee meetings. Sometimes the breaks last a day or two. Sometimes they last a whole week. It traditionally takes two and a half months to wrap up a session as a result.

State Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro), the delegation’s chairwoman, said the usual sine die date for the General Assembly is during the last week of March, but she expects it to come at least a week earlier than that in 2014.

“It’ll be a little past the middle of March, I think,” said Davenport.

A federal judge has set the primaries for U.S. Congress and Senate seats to be no later than early June. There’s been talk among county officials and legislators in recent weeks that indicates the primary will be held in late May.

The Secretary of State’s office also indicated several months ago that it plans to ask that the primaries for state and county-level offices be moved to the same date as the federal primary to cut down on elections costs.

Davenport said she expects the General Assembly will approve that request when it reconvenes in mid-January.

“I think all of the elections are going to be on the same day,” said Davenport. “I don’t think the state of Georgia is going to do them separately, and so qualifying would be in March.”

As a result, she said they would be facing a situation of wrapping up their 40-day session sooner than normal, or campaigning while still working on important legislation.

“A lot of us are going to have opposition so I think members of the legislature are going to want to be finished before then because our first priority is to take care of the people during the session,” said Davenport. “People are hoping the session will go quickly so we can get out and campaign for office.”