/ Modified jan 2, 2019 11:29 a.m.

Legislative Issues in 2019; Grassroots Civility

A panel of journalists discuss what issues state lawmakers will likely focus on early next year.

Arizona 360 closed out 2018 with a journalist roundtable that looked ahead at issues likely to shape events at the Arizona Legislature.

Our panel included Yellow Sheet Report editor Hank Stephenson, Tucson Weekly/Tucson Local Media executive editor Jim NIntzel and Green Valley News/Sahuarita Sun editor Dan Shearer.

Among the initiatives lawmakers are poised to consider: passing a drought contingency plan, criminal justice reform and what to do with an anticipated surplus. Republicans will hold 31 seats In the Arizona House of Representatives compared to Democrats' 29 seats, giving them a narrower margin to advance their party's legislation.

"You may really see a shift from away from passing policy that gets the entire Republican caucus on board, toward passing policy that gets the vast majority of the Republican caucus on board and maybe a couple of more moderate Democrats," Stephenson said.

Other topics included how having two freshman senators in Congress could affect Arizona, as well as how journalists can earn and maintain the trust of the communities they serve in what will likely be another volatile year for the news cycle.

The term "civility" came up often throughout the 2018 campaign season, a concept many would evoke as the attack ads and candidate critiques mounted. Outside of elections, the National Institute for Civil Discourse works year-round to cultivate civility within communities and workplaces at the grassroots level. Executive director Carolyn Lukensmeyer joined Arizona 360 in studio to offer perspective on how to be more civil in our everyday lives.

"Our founders in the constitutional convention actually talked about civility … as the values that democracy and a republic would have to have to be successful. Because they knew we would be in a lot of conflicts," Lukensmeyer said. "We've seen our norms in civility and respect take a deep degradation in just about a four-year period of time."

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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