Friday, February 27, 2015

Think Hard, Fellow Pubs, Before You Pass The "Youth Minimum Wage" Bill. You'll Be Unleashing A Torrent Of Ill Will.

Who Do You Suppose Works Here?
An Aberdeen Amusement Park, Open Seasonally
(photo from
     My good friend Cory Heidelberger just came up with a brainstorm over at his excellent
blog The Madville Times.  Like me, Cory has been exceptionally frustrated by the continuingly good prospects for the passage of South Dakota Senate Bill 177, which will effectively amend--by legislative fiat--the minimum wage law passed by South Dakota voters last November.  That law established an $8.50/hr minimum wage (with automatic cost-of-living adjustments) in South Dakota, across the board.  What the supporters of SB 177 (including main sponsor Republican State Senator David Novstrup, who operates an amusement park in Aberdeen) want to do is reduce the minimum wage to $7.50 for workers under the age of 18 and take away the automatic COLA adjustment.  I stand with Cory when I say "phooey."  That "phooey principle" was well-articulated this morning in the Capitol by Republican Rep Lance Russell when he said, while speaking to another issue, "to disregard the will of the people is not something we should take lightly here today."  I'll be waiting to see how Russell votes on SB 177.
     I also stand with Cory when I say that SB 177, should it become law, will have great referendum potential.  Why should the Republicans--who've pushed this thing forcefully through the legislature so far--care?  Because people don't like it when their duly passed initiatives get amended by a handful of partisan politicos in the state capitol. I think, as Cory's piece suggests, that the public backlash will be fierce, especially as there's a built-in cadre of thousands of South Dakota families whose youngsters get part-time summer jobs at minimum wage. This is taking money right
Summer Biz, Operated By SD Sen. Novstrup.
He Hires 25 Young People Here Each Season.  He Sponsors SB 177.
(photo from
out of their pockets.  

     If Cory is right, and I think he is, legions of those families will form enough of an alliance, probably spurred on, if not altogether organized, by the state's Democratic Party into a voting
bloc that will vigorously challenge the new law once it's passed.  This spells double-trouble for Republicans.  First, they'll look mighty arrogant with their cavalier disregard for what the voters passed in the first place, which should generate some energy among us ordinary folks, regardless of party.  Second, it will give Democrats a great launching pad for a desperately needed consolidation of their forces ahead of the '16 elections by using this potential referendum as a focal point.  
     We Pubs need to ask ourselves if passing SB 177 is worth the risk of being on the wrong side of an argument over how much our young South Dakotans should earn.    


  1. Shirley Harrington-MooreFebruary 27, 2015 at 6:47 AM

    C'mon, John. You and I both know this is the first shot across the bow for next year's push to roll back the increase for the rest of us. Just because the pubs in Pierre have been doing this with the abortion issue they think they can apply the same principle to every initiative measure.

  2. To me the citizen of SD said they were willing to pay a little more so that those making minimum wage or near minimum wage could get a pay raise.

    What the retails association needs to understand is if you put a little extra money in the hands of teens they will spend that money. Teens typically do not save their money, they spend it right away. Where do they spend their money? Probably 1/2 goes back into businesses that employee teens like fast food, clothing, movie theaters, and even the Novstrup's Thunder Road businesses.

    I just do not get why some are fighting this new minimum wage.