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Receiving an economic bump

By Dave Frank

Appeal Staff Writer

A rush of politicians, lobbyists and government staff to a special legislative session this week could give Carson City restaurants and bars a bump in sales.

Gov. Jim Gibbons called the session to deal with the state’s budget problems. It starts Friday and could last five days.

The 63 members of the Nevada legislature are typically less important to the city’s economy than the hundreds of lobbyists, such as the 884 that registered at the 2007 regular session.

Though it’s not clear exactly which industries and organizations will be affected by this short session, many lobbyists will attend to monitor what happens, said Bill Bible, who lobbies for several large casinos as president of the Nevada Resort Association.

“You never know where the ball goes,” he said.

Bonnie Parnell, an assemblymember representing parts of Carson City and Washoe County, said lobbyists are able to go out for meals more often than politicians, who are in meetings most of the day.

Adele’s and Glen Eagles are popular spots when they do get a chance to go out for dinner, though, she said.

“(Sessions) are always a good time for local businesses,” she said, “especially the restaurants.”

They certainly help Glen Eagles, said Vicki Shell, the restaurant’s general manager, and the business always looks forward to them.

That politicians often decide to spend taxpayer money when in town, however, and “that’s not a thrill,” she said.

These visitors also don’t spend as much as they used to 20 years ago, she said, something, according to Lorne Malkiewich, director of the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau, that might have been caused by a major change in lobbying policy in the 1990s.

The change required lobbyists to specify if they had spent money on politicians, how much and on whom. Records of the spending are public and “legislators don’t want to be at the top of the list of most wined and dined,” he said.

Any spending by lobbyists or politicians could help city restaurants and bars catch up in sales, which, according to the most recent report by the Nevada Department of Taxation, are down about 4.5 percent from January through March 2008 compared to the same period last year.

The type of restaurant doesn’t always matter to lobbyists, however, said John Pappageorge, who has represented organizations ranging from the Nevada Library Association to the Nevada Tavern Owners Association.

“If the door’s open and I’m hungry,” he said, “that’s where I want to eat.”

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.