"Today's hearing was just the first step in the legislation process."
In the sentence above, does just mean only, or exactly?
If it's only, the sentence sounds negative to me because it seems to mean "it's only the first step. Long way to go."
However, if it's exactly, there seems to be no negative implication. It seems that exactly only emphasizes the fact that the hearing was the first step.
I don't see it as negative either- it will be a long struggle but it's moving in the right direction for the writer.