Legislative Eats 

Lawmakers make plans for lunch time

Sure, they have weighty issues to consider, bills to pass, constituents to answer to and hands to shake, but when it comes down to it, legislators have to eat, too.

But even that's going to be a bit more of a challenge as the State Legislature moves into temporary quarters in the old Ada County Courthouse, now given the overly grandiose title of Capitol Annex. The makeshift quarters are lovingly referred to as "cozy" and will be the home of the Legislature for two years while the Capitol undergoes an expansion and renovation.

While the addition of a balcony in the House chambers created just enough room to fit all the representatives, office and meeting space will be at a premium. Even the restroom situation has forced the addition of portable toilets (under a tent) to make sure everyone can answer the call of nature in a timely manner.

So, it's no surprise that, given space restrictions, there's no room for a legislative cafeteria.

In previous sessions, lawmakers had the chance to grab a quick bite between hearings, debates or meetings in the Capitol cafeteria. But space limitations have eliminated that option.

Instead, legislators and support staff are scrambling to make sure blood sugar levels don't drop.

Jeff Youtz, director of legislative services, said his office sent out a letter to mobile food vendors in Boise, soliciting any interest in setting up in front of the Capitol Annex during the legislative session.

While Youtz said legislative staff would be willing to help any vendors set up around the building, no one has taken them up on the offer yet.

Legislative leadership isn't waiting to see if things work out.

Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, has already purchased five small refrigerators for lawmakers and staff to use during the session, and there has been some discussion of lengthening the lunch hour.

House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, said she's already checked out the legislative coffee lounge and reports there's one legislative microwave oven. She plans on adding the Democrats' own microwave to the mix.

"There's nothing wrong with those little burritos," she said, musing that some local entrepreneur may create a legislative burrito package.

For Rep. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, it's all about the peanut butter and jelly. "Peanut butter and jelly is pretty bipartisan," she said.

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