The votes on Senate Bill 177, the youth minimum wage, are worth studying. In the Senate, all seven Dems present voted voted to stick with the people’s will to raise the minimum wage to an annually adjusting $8.50 for everyone. In yesterday’s 44–24 House vote, one Democrat, Rep. Julie Bartling from Gregory, voted with the Republican majority to stick it to young workers. Boooo, Bartling!
The Republicans showed greater party disunity. Yes, 43 of them voted to say kids are worth less and to let their colleague Rep. Al Novstrup exploit child labor at his fun parks in Sioux Falls, Watertown, Fargo, and the town he lists as his main address, Aberdeen. But 14 Republicans stood for youth worker rights, respect for the popular will, or some combination of both:
- Anderson, David L (R-16/Hudson)
- Campbell, Blaine “Chip” (R-35/Rapid City)
- Deutsch, Fred E (R-04/Florence)
- Duvall, Mary (R-24/Pierre)
- Hickey, Steve (R-09/Sioux Falls)
- Johns, Timothy R (R-31/Lead)
- May, Elizabeth (R-27/Kyle)
- Rasmussen, Nancy (R-17/Hurley)
- Romkema, Fred (R-31/Spearfish)
- Russell, Lance (R-30/Hot Springs)
- Schoenbeck, Lee (R-05/Watertown)
- Schoenfish, Kyle (R-19/Scotland)
- Stevens, Mike (R-18/Yankton)
- Tulson, Burt (R-02/Lake Norden)
Among the notables here are Reps. Romkema and Johns, whose Lawrence County/Black Hills constituents count on lots of seasonal youth labor for tourism. They evidently did not feel paying kids $8.50 an hour just like the rest of the minimum-wage workforce would put a crimp in their local economy. Arch-conservative West River Reps. Russell and May joined the nays, as did Codington County heavy hitters Reps. Schoenbeck and Deutsch.
This split House vote means SB 177 would be three votes shy of the two-thirds vote necessary to override a gubernatorial veto. I would suspect that if the Governor were to veto the youth minimum wage, even more Republicans would peel away, unwilling to challenge the governor on this particular issue. That makes it all the more worthwhile to ring the Governor’s phone off the hook this weekend and through next week to encourage him to respect the people’s will and young people’s work.