Boiseans love to tease lawmakers when some hurdle delays adjournment, moaning about scarce parking and the $30,000 daily cost of running the joint.
But for Downtown retailers, there couldn't have been better news when leadership's going-home plan blew up last week.
"As soon as they leave, you can definitely tell," said Lorah "Izze" Lee-Green, who manages Thomas Hammer at 8th and Bannock streets, a block from the Capitol. "We see a significant increase when they're here."
Lee-Green says one pleasant surprise is the heavy tip jars.
"You can tell people who've been servers, they tip well," she said. "But here, a lot of people you wouldn't expect are good tippers. Interns, pages, people in suits. They appreciate we're here super early in the morning and we've got their coffee ready."
The only retailer closer than the cluster of coffeehouses and restaurants on 8th Street is Judy Knapp, who sells aromatic lunch fare from her "TJ's Yankee Dog" cart on State Street.
"I'm probably the only person here that is happy!" said Knapp, with a smoky laugh. "Well, me and the restaurants. It'll quiet down when they leave."
At Pollo Rey, an economical Mexican spot on 8th, manager Renee Swanson estimates that about 5 percent of her business from January to early April comes from the Legislature. "Some of them are nice and some of them don't give you the time of day - just like regular people," Swanson said. "And they do bring in business."
Even all the reporters spend money, including Melissa Davlin of the Twin Falls Times-News, who spent $8, including tip, at Pollo Rey. Lunch companion Clark Corbin of Idaho Education News forked out $10. "I got a soda," said Corbin.
'I'M ENJOYING THIS'
Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise, whose vote against the K-12 budget last week contributed to the delay, joked that he was motivated by commerce. "I want to do everything I can as a member of the Legislature for economic development in Boise," he said.
Martin, a first-year lawmaker, allowed that he's thrilled with his new job: "To the chagrin of my wife, I'm enjoying this way too much. But I realize we're better off home."
Thursday is the new going-home day, if the wheels stay on. Meanwhile, lawmakers are enjoying a last few days in delightful spring weather.
Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, bought lunch at Bittercreek Ale House for Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, and John Reuter, a lobbyist for Conservation Voters for Idaho who's an old friend of Keough's from Bonner County.
"The best thing about still being in Boise is we can enjoy the sunshine and warm weather and keep Boise restaurants busy," Keough said.
Sen. Jim Patrick, a Republican from rural Twin Falls County, lunched outside at Fork with lobbyist Jesse Taylor. Patrick, who owns a condo Downtown, was able to partake in his favorite avocation of the 2013 session - watching the new Zions Bank tower rise.
"They grow the crane while the guy's in it," marveled Patrick, looking over his shoulder. "It's exciting to be Downtown. I love the country, but this is my urban cabin."
FINDING THE FOOD TRUCK
Rustic was the word for three lobbyists from the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, Alex LaBeau, Jayson Ronk and Zach Hauge.
Hauge, the group's political director, is an afficionado of food trucks and follows their daily locations on Twitter. He was keen to try P. Ditty's Wrap Wagon, if only for the clever name.
On Tuesday, the wagon was parked at 13th and Main, seven blocks from the Capitol, prompting ribbing from IACI's guests, GOP Reps. Robert Anderst of Nampa and Eric Anderson of Priest Lake, as they trekked to the truck.
Anderson's favorite spot, Leku Ona on the Basque Block, is considerably closer. "I don't know if I'll find my way back," he said. "These streets all go north-south, don't they?"
"Got any bread crumbs?" asked Anderst.
But both were pleased with their wraps. Anderson chose the Italian Stallion, Anderst the Sriracha Shrimp in a sun-dried tomato tortilla that matched the orange-yellow truck.
Anderson, author of Idaho's laws aimed at checking the spread of invasive species, regaled the group with his knowledge of milfoil and quagga mussels. He said introducing predators such as goby fish and terns will only cause other problems, and he fears that mussels from Lake Mead and Lake Powell will reach Idaho's Bear Lake if regulators are insufficiently aggressive.
"Did you know there are 750 trillion free-floating veligers in Lake Mead?" Anderson asked. "Those are the baby mussels."
LaBeau, IACI's president, paid the bill: $34, including a $5 tip.
The tab was bound to be higher for the host of of House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, on Tuesday. Lunch at BrickYard, followed by golf at the Plantation Country Club.
"I have a 1 o'clock tee time," Rusche said, rubbing it in a bit for reporters hunched in the basement media quarters.
Lobbyists must report any spending on individual legislators more than $105 a month. Rusche wouldn't name the lobbyists footing the bill for him and other lawmakers: "Otherwise, I'll never get asked back!"
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics