Thursday, March 5, 2015

Can, Meet Worms. Will Governor Daugaard Sanction The SD Legislature's Power Grab? Amending The Minimum Wage Initiative Is An Awful Way To Treat South Dakota's Voters.

     When we South Dakota voters passed Initiated Measure 18 last Fall we decreed that
Teens At Work.  We Were All There Once.
And We Worked Just As Hard For The Money.
(photo from
henceforth the minimum wage in South Dakota would be $8.50 an hour.
We included an automatic cost-of-living adjustment.  We didn't make age-based exceptions.  We created a blanket law that covered all workers.  We didn't consider it amendable by the legislature, which, by the way, it isn't. T
he South Dakota Constitution  specifically notes that "the enacting clause of all laws approved by vote of the electors of the state shall be 'be it enacted by the people of South Dakota.' "  SD's Constitution then orders the state's Legislature to make "suitable provisions" for carrying the initiated law into effect.  Our legislators' response?  Not so fast. Both houses just passed Senate Bill 177, which thumbs its nose at the all-inclusive nature of the new minimum-wage law by enacting a separate minimum wage for South Dakota workers below the age of 18.  I think this violates the intent of the Constitutional imperative for legislators to make "suitable provisions" for putting initiated laws into effect.  
     Canton, SD's Republican Rep Jim Bolin probably put it best by noting that the youth minimum wage is "the equivalent of an amendment" to the initiated measure.  Republican Rep Lance Russell from Hot Springs raised an even more provocative, if not altogether ominous, consideration by warning that passage of SB 177 would be "a very dangerous precedent" by overturning the will of the voters.  Bolin and Russell were unable to sway a majority of their GOP comrades in the House yesterday, where it got overwhelming Republican support and passed by a 44-24 majority.  Having already handily cleared the Senate, the bill now goes to Governor Daugaard for
Think Hard, Governor Daugaard.
This Is About The People Vs. The Government.
(photo from
his signature.  

     According to a spokesman in the Governor's office, Daugaard is undecided and "will be listening to the debates and considering it over the next several days."  Much as I appreciate the Governor's willingness to listen to the debates, I think on this one he should be heeding his own counsel, listening to his inner lawyer, and deliberating over the precedent-setting implications of signing this bill into law.  Looking at it from an ordinary voter's perspective, I'm dismayed by the prospect of every future intitiative, "enacted by the people of South Dakota," being subjected to modification by the state's legislature based on some hair-splitting interpretations of what and what was not the intent of the voters.  This is dangerous stuff.  
     Daugaard should veto the bill and send it back to the legislature.  


  1. Shirley Harrington-MooreMarch 5, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    Thank you, John. It was NEVER the purpose/intent of the minimum wage initiative to set wages for teens less than adults. Each of us must be trained for the position we are hired for. The concept that 'the kid doesn't even know how to use a broom to sweep the floor correctly' comes under on the job training that anyone new to a different job must face. If someone has potential enough to be hired for a job, that someone deserves to be paid the wage or let go.

  2. It's an off election year. These scoundrels have faith that the voters will forget their treachery.