Meanwhile, a number of lobbyists chipped in to underwrite the costs of the annual Senate President's Dinner, March 27 at the Marriott, and the House Speaker's Dinner, March 26 at the University of Charleston.
Among disclosures for the latter was the itemized bill from UC catering, which included $3,352 for dinner (52 herb-roasted chicken dinners, 50 London broils, and seven "vegetarian Wellington" dinners), and a bar tab totaling $2,403.
That included $600 for pre-dinner cocktails, $195 for 60 domestic beers, $486 for 27 bottles of wine, and $67.50 for 18 imported beers.
Nine lobbyists, including Hardesty, Rob Casto, Chad Robinson,Richard Stevens, Tom Susman and Jason Webb kicked in $100 each for a cash-bar end-of-the-session party April 14 at Aladdin's Restaurant.
That's a far cry from the raucous, all-night end-of-session affairs at the Marriott (which actually ended with a lavish breakfast), which met their demise after the Legislature toughened state Ethics laws in 2005 to require first-dollar reporting of expenditures by lobbyists.
Nice gesture, at a small cost: West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee reported spending $61.80 to bring pastries for House staffers April 4, and governor's office staffers March 20, April 1, and April 11.
(More next week, with the deadline for filing the disclosures coming up on Wednesday, with about half the reports pending, including several from big-spending lobbyists ...)
Finally, I was surprised and gratified by the amount of interest in my recent "bucket list" cross-country rail excursion.
Surprised a little in that many people said they have similar trips on their wish lists, and surprised a lot by the large number of people who had never been on a train before, and had basic questions such as, "Where do you sleep?" and "What's the food like?"
I'm hoping to put together a little travel piece in the near future ... if I can boil it down to 1,000 words or so.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.