Civility in the Washington State Legislature: Causes Underlying a Decline Over Time
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Much effort is focused on the importance of civility in legislative discourse and debate. Civility is intended to create an environment of respect and collaboration, but the electoral process and legislative political posturing often work contrary to the maintenance and reinforcement of this norm. What is it about these processes which enhances or hinders civility and bipartisan collaboration? The Legislative Service Project examines individuals involved in the Washington State Legislative process and seeks to determine how changes to this process have affected legislative civility. Participants include legislative interns from the last ten years, legislative staff, members of the media, lobbyists and legislators who served during the 1990 to 2009 legislative sessions. Participant responses provide insight into the legislative process, changes affecting this process, and provide considerable insight into the dynamics of legislative civility and bipartisanship from the student intern, staff, media, lobbyist and legislator's perspective. The ultimate goal of the Legislative Service Project is to improve the current Washington State legislative process and better prepare the next generation of leaders for public service.