Novstrup Faces Re-Election Trouble for Undoing Minimum Wage Initiative

Last year Senator David Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) and the Republican majority in the Legislature made the error of undoing the will of the people expressed in Initiated Measure 18, the minimum-wage increase passed in 2014. This year, Sanford Health will be pressuring Senator Novstrup and his colleagues to further disrespect the voters by tinkering with Initiated Measure 17, the Any Willing Provider law that voters passed to require insurance companies to allow any health care provider who can meet their standards to participate in their coverage networks.

Even Republican Pat Powers recognizes that tinkering with successful ballot measures is a really bad idea:

Senator David Novstrup may be seeing stars when he bonks his head against the reality of voter outrage in 2016.
Senator David Novstrup may be seeing stars when he bonks his head against the reality of voter outrage in 2016.

The bill, which was passed, brought outrage in the state’s media, and a petition drive was initiated, where the repeal of a minor portion of the ballot measure was immediately referred for election this year. The fervor of that measure has somewhat died down over the past year, where it might not affect the election fortunes of the measure’s proponents.  At least until their opponents remind the voters of it.

That happened when a minor provision was passed to slightly alter the least popular ballot measure from 2014.  Anger and near-automatic referral. What do you think the reaction will be for the legislator who might attempt a major alteration of the most popular ballot measure from the preceding election, which had virtually no opposition at the ballot box?  Especially coming smack dab in the middle of the election year?

Based on last years’ experience, I suspect it’s going to generate a wave of negative publicity that the legislator probably didn’t contemplate when they put their name on the line to support such a measure.  And that could be a wave that might dash them on the rocks in the next election.

In that instance, taking direct aim at the will of the people in such a manner might not just be an unwise thing. It could prove to be downright painful [Pat Powers, “Initiated Measure 17 Repeal effort in the works? I don’t know if I would. The will of the people could prove painful,” Dakota War College, 2016.01.15].

It’s nice to see Powers rediscover his respect for democracy, even if that respect is purely pragmatic and partisan. Powers admits what I discovered while leading that successful referendum petition drive around Aberdeen last spring: voting to repeal the minimum wage increase for young workers could cost David Novstrup his seat this year. Supporting the unraveling of another initiated measure would only reinforce the message that Senator Novstrup and other Republican legislators do not respect South Dakota voters, and as Powers admits, that’s a potent message for anyone trying to unseat an incumbent.

Republicans, you’re in bad enough shape with Referred Law 20 on the ballot to remind voters of your fear of democracy. Take Pat’s advice: don’t make things worse by triggering another referendum on your disrespect for voters.

15 Responses to Novstrup Faces Re-Election Trouble for Undoing Minimum Wage Initiative

  1. Daniel Buresh

    If you go against the will of the people…’s time you find a new career. I’ll support any candidate willing to take his spot. I know many Republicans who will do the same. Let’s just hope the Republicans in his district understand how anti-democratic this truly is. Political parties aside, I think upholding the will of the voters is something we all stand together on.

  2. Does young Mr. Novstrup have a primary challenger?

  3. Wow, Pat … such bold journalism. You can’t even mention Novstrup’s name in your post … not once.

  4. Daniel, remind me to hook you up with some candidates seeking donations. Lynn, no challengers in the GOP or the local Dems have announced. I have heard that David Novstrup took out petitions, although I don’t have direct verification of what was on those petitions.

  5. Daniel Buresh

    Pat Powers is a shill, and most Republican legislators won’t even align themselves with such incompetence. He will never have a formal place in SD politics again. He is a minion who lacks any sort of independent thought. He will say whatever you pay him to say. He represents everything that is wrong with our political system.

  6. larry kurtz

    Mr. Buresh, I disagree that PP is a shill. He isn’t financially compensated for political adverts over there: he runs them at no charge to bring traffic for his business selling plastics.

  7. Really, Larry? I thought Powers was running a business.

    Daniel, if Powers has a formal place, it appears to be just as what you say, a mouthpiece for approved party and superPAC messages. He’s not valued for his own contributions and creativity, just his amplification of others’ points. Hmm… I wonder if we might say the same of Senator Novstrup?

  8. I’m ready to circulate petitions if they be so reckless.

  9. You’re a petition madman, Mark! Keep your pens warmed up; we may need them… but let’s hope the Republicans take Pat seriously and recognize the danger of tinkering any further with ballot measures.

  10. 20 dem legislators-85 repub legidlators

  11. Leslie, if Republicans keep messing with initiative and referendum, and if Democratic candidates make that messing a central part of their message, we can turn those numbers to 45 D to 60 R… and with ten of those new D’s in the Senate, we could control a chamber. Go ahead, David, try repealing another initiative.

  12. Bob Newland

    Novstrup looks like a polygamist promoter.

  13. Now, Bob, let’s not judge on looks. Let’s judge on record… of which Novstrup offers little.

  14. I hate to be the pessimist in the crowd; however, there seems to be an assumption in the comments that the voting public reads or even cares about the ballot measure passed previously. The Republican party is counting on this. The Republican party will continue to retain its majority in the State House and Senate due to a apathetic South Dakota electorate. Remember, when those voters walk into the polls, it is my belief that the electorate in South Dakota will look for only one thing — is there an “R” following the candidate’s name? If so, that candidate will receive the vote.

  15. Paladn, pish-posh on your pessimism! :-D

    Actually, I see your point. I live and breathe ballot measures. Conventional wisdom would say that the only awareness most people have of ballot measures right now is their already fading memory of all those rude out-of-state petitioners at the courthouse. The GOP has to count on that apathy and brand loyalty.

    But when I circulated the petition to refer Novstrup’s youth minimum wage, I had a lot of people who knew immediately what I was talking about and immediately expressed disgust with Novstrup’s action. Now I circulated here, in his district, so more people may be able to connect that issue with their legislator. But that petition felt like the HB 1234 referral petition back in 2012: all I had to say was “Governor’s education plan,” and people knew exactly what I meant and were ready to sign and vote it down. (Of course, they forgot by 2014 and re-elected Governor Daugaard, so let that reinforce Paladn’s pessimism.)

    I agree that apathy and brand loyalty won’t disappear by magic. We have to make it disappear by making a lot of noise. Whoever runs against Novstrup and against the incumbent Republicans who voted for it in the Senate and in the House need to remind their friends and neighbors of their elected Republicans’ disrespect for the popular will. There will still be a lot of folks who vote R because they love R, but we can lower that number and increase the number of D’s and I’s who are mad enough to show up and vote to say, “Listen to me, dagnabit!”