/ Modified dec 13, 2012 8:06 p.m.

New Legislators Learn Lawmaking Ropes

Big freshman class begins experiencing inner workings of the Capitol

(VIDEO: AZPM)

Thirty-seven new Arizona legislators will take their seats at the state Capitol next month, representing the second-largest freshman class of lawmakers in a decade.

Newly elected representatives were at the Capitol in Phoenix last week and senators were there this week for meet-and-greet and orientation sessions.

T.J. Shope, a Republican representative from Coolidge elected from District 8, said he was looking forward to working with members of both parties and felt that all were getting along at orientation sessions, without regard for political stands.

Shope and others are learning the rules, regulations and what can be the vagaries of the legislative process.

Lisa Otondo, a freshman Democratic representative from Yuma, in District 4, said she has followed the Legislature closely and knows that Democrats will have a tough time of it, being on the short end of a 36-24 Republican-to-Democratic count in the House.

Shope and Otondo are among six House freshmen who spoke to Arizona Public Media for reports this week on what they are learning and what the key issues of the new legislative session will be.

Shope said he will push economic development and offer a perspective from one of Arizona's smaller communities, the mostly rural and suburban District 8.

Otondo said she thinks the legislative session will be difficult for Democrats because Republicans still retain control of both houses, although they lost their supermajorities in last month's general election.

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