Retiring state Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill has accepted a new job promoting civility in politics.
Hill, R-Rexburg, said last week he has taken the role of program director of the Next Generation program with the Washington D.C-based National Institute for Civil Discourse. Hill said in an email he "will be working with state legislatures across the country to help them improve civility and collaboration through multiple presentations, including workshops for lawmakers." He said he will still live in Rexburg.
"Julie (Hill's wife) and I both feel strongly that this is another way to serve our country and make a difference in American politics," Hill wrote. "With all of the uncertainty in the world, we need more direction than ever in being respectful and civil in our human interactions. Perhaps my experience over the past nineteen years in the Idaho Legislature will benefit others to achieve better communication, deeper trust, and greater civility in their legislative process."
Hill announced earlier this year that he won't run for another term after almost two decades in office, about half of it leading the Senate, and will be Idaho's longest-serving Senate president pro tempore when his term ends at the end of the year. Jacob Householder and now-Rep. Doug Ricks are vying for the Republican nomination to succeed Hill in the deeply Republican district.
Promoting civility in political debate has long been an interest of Hill's; it was one of his focuses as Senate president and he said in an interview earlier this year he wished he could have done more to promote civility while in office.
According to a newsletter from Next Generation, Hill and House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, were the first legislative leaders in the country to invite Next Generation to conduct a workshop for an entire state Legislature.
"Brent’s long commitment to the Next Generation program grows out of his deep conviction that to be effective, legislatures must treat differences with consideration and respect," said Keith Allred, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse and the 2010 Democratic candidate for Idaho governor. "Brent’s sterling reputation among fellow legislators in Idaho and state legislative leaders across the country for integrity, constructive treatment of differences, and practical problem solving represents exactly what Next Generation works to promote."