What We Do

Next Generation works directly with state legislators to address incivility and hyper polarization at the state level. Next Generation offers an interactive, half-day workshop titled, Building Trust through Civil Discourse, that is designed and delivered by state legislators for state legislators.

The main mission of the workshop is to provide state lawmakers with an opportunity to explore the benefits of improving the level of civil discourse in their state’s legislature and more effectively work across the aisle to recover a culture where discourse and collaboration typify public policy development.

Workshops

The workshop includes facilitated discussions and exercises that aim to develop a deeper appreciation for one another’s commitments to public service, agree on a vision for working productively together, and identify concrete steps toward achieving that vision. Each workshop begins with a meal and is facilitated by a bipartisan pair of state lawmakers that have been trained through NICD as Facilitators for Next Generation workshops.

Facilitators

Next Generation holds Facilitator Trainings for up to 12 state lawmakers at a time to become trained Facilitators for Next Generation’s Building Trust through Civil Discourse workshops. The 2-and-a-half-day training is provided at no cost to participants so long as they sign the Facilitator Agreement Contract.

Positive Campaigns

Next Generation provides Positive Campaign Workshops to candidates for elected office at all levels of government. Candidates learn about the components of a Positive Campaign, discuss challenges and strategies for success, and learn from case studies provided by former candidates and campaign managers.

National Network

In response to requests from workshop participants for opportunities to collaborate with other lawmakers from across the country, Next Generation created the National Network of State Legislators Committed to Civil Governance in August 2015. The National Network meets for an annual Summit each year where members get a chance to reconnect and learn about actions they can take to advance civility in their states and nationwide. The Network is represented by bipartisan Co-Chairs each year. The current co-chairs are Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus (D-OH) (former Ohio State Representative) and Attorney Roger Katz (R-ME) (former Maine State Senator).

Why it works/Guiding Principles/ Theory Behind Our Work

From State Governments to Congress:

A remarkable number of our national elected officials begin their political careers in state legislatures.  As of 2014, 44% of Senators and 51% of House Representatives previously served as state legislators. State legislatures, therefore, are the “farm system” for our country’s Next Generation of national leaders.  Thus, the state capitals present a unique venue to tackle future political gridlock by training legislators in civil discourse principles and practices.

State Power:

Additionally, state legislatures pass thousands of bills each year that directly affect their constituents. A well-functioning state legislature can greatly benefit residents in that state, especially in times when more and more Americans are looking to their local elected officials to help resolve issues yet to be addressed on the national level.

Impacts of the Program in Participating States:

  • Bipartisan Ohio Adoption Bill Passed- Rep. Antonio and Rep. Pelanda (2012)
  • Committee Procedural Changes in Ohio Senate- Chairman Frank LaRose (after 2012)
  • Bill Amendments collaborated on in Maine Senate (2015)
  • Debate Ground Rules used in Arizona House Floor Debate on Abortion (2015)
  • Minnesota forms Civility Caucus (2015)
  • Minnesota organizes bipartisan choir (2016)
  • Washington State holds civility workshop for Freshman legislators using Next Gen. Facilitators (2017)
  • Maine changes chamber seating from partisan to bipartisan (2018)
  • Most states report more socializing amongst members, a better session, and less animosity overall between the parties following a Building Trust through Civil Discourse