Seth Tupper reports that in 2014, both Al and David Novstrup (Rs-3/Aberdeen) watered down proposed amusement park regulations to protect his Thunder Road amusement parks:
…when [Al] Novstrup learned of Hickey’s draft legislation to regulate amusement rides, Novstrup was immediately concerned.
“I very quickly heard about this and got a copy emailed to me and saw some things in it that were over-regulation,” Novstrup said in March 2014 during recorded public remarks in the state Senate chamber. “And so I contacted the good representative and said, ‘Can we compromise on this? Can we work toward an equitable solution for everybody?’ And he was very willing to do that.”
To help shape and draft the legislation, Novstrup brought in representatives of two amusement industry organizations, the Outdoor Amusement Business Association and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Novstrup’s son, David, who is also a state lawmaker, and is the general manager and co-owner of the Thunder Road park in Aberdeen, said he additionally contributed to the drafting of the bill [Seth Tupper, “Weak SD Carnival Safety Laws Written Largely by Industry and Lawmaker Who Owns Amusement Parks,” Rapid City Journal, 2016.09.18].
The resulting legislation, 2014 HB 1168, requires annual documented inspections of amusement rides by certified inspectors and daily documented inspections by owners, operators, or certified inspectors, but it also clarifies that “amusement ride” does not include fixed rides like those operated by the Novstrups in Aberdeen, Watertown, and Sioux Falls. Certified inspector Ken Martin tells Tupper that the exemption for fixed rides is “stupid,” has “no logic in it and no reason for it,” and is “purely somebody’s palm being greased.”
Seth Tupper notes that, while Al Novstrup’s claim that he is “under more regulation after the bill passed than before the bill passed” is “technically true,” 2014 HB 1168 included no enforcement, not even a clear statement of where amusement ride operators are supposed to send their proof of insurance and inspection documentation.
Tupper notes that 2014 HB 1168 writes more rules for riders than for ride operators. In 2014, Al Novstrup said that 90% of amusement ride accidents are riders’ fault.
Tupper’s critique follows up on negative reactions to the Novstrups’ self-non-regulation in 2014: then District 3 House candidate Burt Elliott criticized Al Novstrup over 2014 HB 1168, and conservative blogger Ken Santema agreed that HB 1168 was “crony protectionism.”
In 2011, David Novstrup voted for 2011 HB 1148, which exempted his family business from our minimum wage law. In 2015, both Novstrups voted for 2015 SB 69 (now Referred Law 19), which would make it harder for candidates to run for office and challenge incumbents. Both Novstrups also voted for 2015 SB 177 (now Referred Law 20), which would further insulate them and their business friends from having to pay young workers the standard minimum wage.
2014 HB 1168 contributes to the pattern of the Novstrups’ voting for bills that serve their self-interest.