Eye On Boise

New lawmakers welcomed to Capitol with energy bars, bathroom warnings

House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill welcome Idaho's newest lawmakers at a Capitol lunch on Monday, kicking off three days of orientation sessions. (Betsy Russell)
House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill welcome Idaho's newest lawmakers at a Capitol lunch on Monday, kicking off three days of orientation sessions. (Betsy Russell)

Idaho newest state legislators are on the job today, attending the first day of orientation for the record-tying 2013 Legislature's freshman class of 44. As they arrived for an opening lunch, many were greeted in the Capitol basement hallway by Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, who's among three candidates vying for House majority caucus chair. In a large basket, she had energy bars for each new representative, from either party, along with a cheery welcome note saying, "A little something to help you keep your energy up this week." Here, at right, Perry presents one to new Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, telling him, "You're going to need plenty of energy."

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, and House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, welcomed the group at a lunch in the Capitol dining room, to kick off an afternoon devoted to sessions on legislative process, staff, the state Capitol and administrative procedures; the orientation continues Tuesday and Wednesday. Hill told the large group, "Can you believe it - you're here? And you have this kind of a responsibility?" He said, "It's really an honor for us to be here. With that honor comes a lot of responsibility as well." Hill asked the new lawmakers to each introduce themselves. "I feel like the first day of school - excited," said new Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise. "I even got a new tie." New Rep. Paul Romrell, R-St. Anthony, said, "As the pro-tem said, just to walk into this place - it gives you chills."

Denney, who's fighting to keep the speaker's post in a challenge from House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, told the group he wanted to "welcome you all to the goldfish bowl," saying, "Everything you do here is going to be observed." Said Denney, "I can tell you that there's a lot of opportunity to do things that really don't bring honor to you."

Referencing the frequent evening receptions sponsored by lobbyists and interest groups, Denney said there's plenty of opportunity to imbibe too much. "If you drink too much, I'm going to give each and every one of you my cell phone number, because I will come and take you home," Denney promised. He also advised new lawmakers to use the restroom at every opportunity during sessions, "Because you never can tell when there might be a call of the House, and the doors are locked and you can't get out."




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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