"Building Trust through Civil Discourse" is a half-day (4 hour) workshop provided by NICD's Next Generation Program.
Developed by Ted Celeste, former Ohio State Representative, and presently the Director of State Programs for The National Institute for Civil Discourse, this workshop has been co-facilitated by a Republican and Democrat legislator in fifteen states over the past four years. The main mission of the workshop is to provide legislators 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. “Building Trust through Civil Discourse” is an energizing, legislator-led program that aims to improve a culture where discourse and collaboration typify public policy development.
An outgrowth of the workshops has been the development of a facilitator training program that has trained 40 state legislators and former legislators to co-facilitate workshops around the country. As the demand for workshops increases, additional facilitator trainings will be held twice a year in the future to increase Next Generation’s number of trained facilitators to accommodate states who are interested in holding workshops.
Since its inception, Next Generation has made the following impacts on state legislatures across the country:
1) Institutionalization: Several states are in the process of incorporating the “Building Trust through Civil Discourse” workshop into their new member orientation and training for newly elected officials.
2) Increased Bipartisan Interaction...from district visits and small talk to friendships and co-sponsorship of legislation.
3) Legislation: Multiple states have seen legislation result from interactions that took place in the workshop. Others have seen bipartisan legislators come together to amend bills before they reached the floor for a vote.
4) Legislative Process Improvements: Some states have seen improvements in their committees and sessions following the workshop, from better committee chair and member relations to the ability to get bills heard, introduced, and passed unanimously.
5) The National Network of State Legislators: Having had over 500 state lawmakers participate in the “Building Trust through Civil Discourse” workshop, the National Network of State Legislators Committed to Civil Governance was formed in August 2015. This bipartisan Network is co-chaired by Maine State Treasurer (Former Maine Representative) Terry Hayes (I), Ohio State Senator Frank LaRose (R), and Idaho State Representative Melissa Wintrow (D). The Network plans to hold quarterly online meet-ups to collaborate across state lines to advance civility efforts around the country and convenes annual in-person meetings for its members.