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Lawmakers’ voting participation remains high in shorter session

Records from the past three legislative sessions point to a simple truism of the citizen-legislature model: The shorter the session, the better the attendance.

By keeping a 100-day session — the length prescribed by legislative rules — 27 of the Legislature’s 90 members voted on every bill that was brought to the floor, and only one lawmaker missed more than 20 percent of floor votes.

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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 Russell Pearce: Recognizes he’s not ‘a party of one,’ can’t do whatever he wants

If you’re looking for proof of how much more conservative the Senate emerged after last year’s election, look no further than the selection of Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican from Mesa, as the chamber’s leader.

Pearce is often perceived as unmovable, uncompromising, even single-minded — traits that may be good or bad, depending on which side of the aisle you’re sitting. Many wondered what his presidency would look like and some speculated whether he would rule with a hammer.

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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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