State Sen. David Sanders (R-Little Rock) and State Rep. Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) say they are committed to bringing “civility to politics” in the 89th General Assembly, which is Republican-controlled for the first time in 138 years.

Sanders is serving his first term in the State Senate after one term in the House of Representatives, while Sabin is in his first term in the House. Several years ago, both men hosted a bipartisan TV show on AETN called “Unconventional Wisdom.”  They appeared on this week's edition of Talk Business Arkansas.

Sabin, who was elected chairman of the 41-member freshman House caucus, said the first week was about understanding the pace of a regular session.

“You're getting to know your colleagues, you're learning rhythms of the session – in fact, I learned a lot about time management, which is good because we're going to get very busy next week,” Sabin said.

Sanders said that bipartisanship and tradition accentuated the Senate's start.

“What I took away from the week was really the tone that started after the election,” Sanders said. “[It was] a conciliatory tone, one of working together, one of getting down to business and dealing with the issues at hand.”

The two lawmakers noted that this session was likely to include a massive agenda. Each legislator lined out his personal goals for the session.

“I think a lot of my work will focus on the tax debate,” said Sanders, who serves on the Revenue & Tax and Agriculture & Economic Development committees. He added that he would also put forth effort on parole issues and ethics reform.

Sabin said he will be sponsoring a bill in the House on campaign finance reform and he plans to be involved in education and tax issues. He also mentioned a state energy plan, which is in the works.

“I'm also looking forward to seeing the Governor's energy plan because I think there are a lot of issues within that that are going to affect our economy, our environment and the future of our state,” he said.

Of course, the primary driver during the legislative session will be the Medicaid debate. To watch or listen to Sanders and Sabin discuss early aspects of this topic, watch the video below. You can download an mp3 of the interview here.

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