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Few see increase in civility following Giffords’ shooting (access required)

The January shooting in Tucson, which occurred just two days before the 2011 legislative session began, inspired soul searching among rattled and emotional lawmakers, who pledged a new era of civility across the partisan divide. Others vowed drastic changes to Arizona’s laws on guns and mental health in response to a mass shooting carried out by a man with documented-but-untreated mental health problems.

But while some lawmakers say the lessons of Jan. 8 stayed with them through sine die, most have seen few changes.

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UpClose with David Schapira: Found some success at blocking legislation with ‘watchdog’ approach

The Senate minority announced an audacious goal this year — to put the spotlight on Republicans and their legislation. That task fell to a young father to articulate his party’s positions in a year when Republicans, who are control both chambers, don’t even need a single Democratic vote to pass emergency legislation.

The immediate challenge for Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, a Tempe Democrat, and his caucus was to avoid being relegated to irrelevance.

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UpClose with Chad Campbell: House Dems strive for transparency, cite ‘broken’ budget process

With a mere third of the House of Representatives being Democrats, Minority Leader Chad Campbell knew it was going to be an uphill battle trying to put a dent in the Republicans’ agenda this past session.

Predictably, the Democrats couldn’t get their proposals for tax reforms into the budget, nor could they stop a torrent of conservative legislation. But Campbell said that they did manage to get some of their goals accomplished, even if it was just keeping the public eye on the Legislature.

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Republicans decide against trying to override any of Brewer’s vetoes (access required)

Before the session began, Republicans crowed about the super majorities, and boasted that it would allow them to overrule Gov. Jan Brewer, should she have the temerity to veto their bills.

But Brewer vetoed 29 bills this year, including several that had overwhelming Republican support in both chambers. And despite their supermajority advantage, the Republicans in the House and Senate never once tried to override a veto.

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Ethnic studies fight gets local: Controversial program pits Democrats against Democrats (access required)

The cultural clash over Tucson Unified School District’s ethnic studies program used to be one of Phoenix against the Old Pueblo.

A new conflict has emerged, however, which pits teachers in the program, their supporters and the Pima County Democratic Party against two Democratic school board members, the district’s superintendent and a Tucson group dedicated to improving public schools.

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