It’s really not about paying youth less [Sen. David Novstrup, Inside KELOLand, 2016.10.30, timestamp 9:35].
Referred Law 20 pays youth less. Its prime sponsor says Referred Law 20 isn’t about paying youth less.
Hmm… if a law isn’t about the thing it actually does, then what is it about?
Poor David seems as detached from reality on the practical effect of his own law as he is about the affront to voters his proposal commits by undoing a voter initiative. Unlike David, I won’t shout Liar! I’ll just shake my head and say poor David is very, very confused. I am pleased to have the opportunity to replace him in the Senate and relieve him of all this pressure to explain things he votes for.
SDPB shows clear bias here by shooting Novstrup on the shady side of the street while framing me on the sunny side of the street. Of course, it was also a 90-degree July day when we shot our segment, so you’d think I’d be wilting in the heat. But poor David looks like he’s being led to the gallows.
Of course, if I were trying to defend a bad bill by contending that we disrespect older workers by giving young workers equal minimum protection in the workplace, I’d look a little ill, too.
But at least David was willing to go on camera to defend his poor work. For the second segment of last night’s show, on Referred Law 19, the petition reform bill, SDPB’s Stephanie Rissler couldn’t get David or any other Republican who voted for it in 2015 to defend the measure. She’s stuck reading Rep. Brian Gosch’s (R-32/Rapid City) risibly short, crassly partisan, and flatly false proponent statement. Viewers thus are treated to seven minutes (starting around timestamp 09:40) of my explaining how Referred Law 19 leads to fewer candidates and fewer choices on our ballot.
I have heard from a couple of readers who are confused by this month’s SDPB programming guide, which apparently lists me as the “sponsor” of Referred Laws 19 and 20. Indeed, that is confusing, making it sound like I’m supporting those two measures. As last night’s South Dakota Focus makes clear, I oppose both measures… and so should you!
Vote now in the latest Dakota Free Press poll: Do you support Referred Law 20, which would cut the minimum wage for young workers?
Senator David Novstrup sponsored this wage cut in the form of Senate Bill 177 in 2015. Senator Novstrup and his dad, Rep. Al Novstrup, voted to reduce the minimum wage for workers under 18 from $8.50, the new minimum wage approved by voters in 2014, to $7.50. The Novstrups and their Republican colleagues also voted to exempt this separate youth minimum wage from the annual cost-of-living increase that voters approved in 2014. Governor Dennis Daugaard signed SB 177 into law in March 2015; I petitioned to save kids from that pay cut in 2015 and put it to a public vote in this year’s general election as Referred Law 20.
Voting Yes in this poll and on the ballot means you want to cut the minimum wage for workers under 18 from the current $8.55 to $7.50 and remove the cost-of-living increase for that separate youth minimum wage.
Voting No in this poll and on the ballot means you want workers under 18 to receive the same minimum wage as adult workers—$8.55 this year, $8.65 next year, and so on with annual cost-of-living increases.
Vote now, and tell your friends—we’ll poll until my alarm clock goes off Tuesday morning, when we’ll discuss the results over breakfast.
While we vote, let’s also discuss the political impact of the youth minimum wage on Legislative races. David Novstrup was sensitive enough to political backlash over his sponsorship of the youth minimum wage that he called me a liar for calling his bill an affront to the voters. David chose not to run for reëlection, but his dad Al switched from the House to campaign against me for the Senate seat. Many voters I talk to share my disgust at both Novstrups’ disregard for the will of the voters expressed in the 2014 minimum wage initiative vote.
Do you think voters will reject Referred Law 20, and do you think such rejection will carry over into rejection of candidates who supported it, especially in District 3, which supported the minimum wage hike more strongly than the statewide electorate?
This interview alone should explain why I am so eager to replace David in the Senate and provide District 3 with effective, articulate representation.
Twenty months after proposing his affront to the voters, Senator Novstrup can still barely spit out his rationalization that cutting kids’ wages gives them more opportunities.
Quick show of hands, workers: when your boss cuts your pay, how many of you shout, “Thanks, boss, for the opportunity!”?
Pressed by Belfrage to respond to the argument that his youth minimum wage treats workers differently (I would say, opens the door to age discrimination), Novstrup ad-libs this rhetorical gem:
People say well that’s not fair, those people work just as hard as somebody over eighteen, why can’t —they should get paid the same. Well, if we … think everybody should be paid the same, we should actually regulate that everybody should be paid the same, like, because right now, if you’re working for a business, and you’ve been there five years, and they hire somebody today, how would your listeners feel if they got paid the same wage as they do even though they’ve worked there five years? A lot of people would be very uncomfortable with that, so people I think should be paid on their work experience, are they on time, do they work hard for that employer, that’s how it should be decided, not just because everybody that walks in the door should be paid the same because not everybody has the same experience when they walk in the door [Sen. David Novstrup, interview with Greg Belfrage, “Youth Minimum Wage Would Encourage Hiring Teens,” KELO Radio, 2016.10.17].
Yes, Novstrup is that bad at defending a point. He’s not even talking about the minimum wage any more. He’s pretending that all the people who are going to vote down his Referred Law 20 are voting for some weird Harrison Bergeron socialism. Opponents of Referred Law 20 aren’t advocating a uniform wage; they are advocating a uniform minimum wage, the same basic labor protections for everyone able to labor.
At no point in my advocacy against Novstrup’s youth minimum wage can I recall saying that we should automatically pay a sixteen-year-old new hire the same wage as an employee who’s been on the job for five years. It’s unlikely I’ve said such a thing because I would assume that a reasonable employer will reward any employee who sticks with the company for five years with something more than minimum wage. David’s “example” not only doesn’t apply to the youth minimum wage; it doesn’t exist.
To demonstrate his inability to string together factual arguments, Novstrup offers this inexplicable sentence toward the end of his interview:
The business and the employee would have the discretion in between $7.50 and $8.55 [Novstrup, on Belfrage, 2016.10.17].
I’m probably working too hard to find logic in Novstrup’s statements. It’s much simpler to look at his attempted explanation of the youth minimum wage as more feckless word salad tossed on top of a proposal he can’t defend.
The man I will replace in the South Dakota Senate, David Novstrup, continues to recite his tired artifice that cutting wages for young workers gives them more opportunity. Now, in that Sioux Falls paper’s latest report on Novstrup’s Referred Law 20, the quitting Aberdeen senator admits that his hypothesis rests on taking away opportunity from older workers:
The proposal does give employers more options when it comes time to hire, said state Sen. David Novstrup, who introduced the measure. The Republican lawmaker from Aberdeen came up with the idea after having conversations with lobbyists for retailers.
Younger job-seekers would have an advantage over older, potentially more qualified candidates if employers knew they could pay less, Novstrup said.
“The person doing the hiring might be more willing to take a chance on that person,” Novstrup said [Patrick Anderson, “Lower Minimum Wage for Kids? You Decide,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.10.14].
Novstrup also admits his proposal was a response to the voters’ decision in 2014 to raise the minimum wage for all workers, but he says undoing the voters’ will is o.k. because voters made a mistake:
Novstrup agrees his proposal was a response to the increase, but that’s nothing against voters, he said. He supports the ballot initiative process. Both legislators and voters are capable of making mistakes, Novstrup said.
“When they put that on the ballot two years ago, they had a specific mission or goal in mind, but that didn’t necessarily craft the best policy for the state, and the voters didn’t really have a choice,” Novstrup said.
I won’t call David a liar, but I will say he’s mistaken. Voters really did have a choice in 2014. They knew full well that Initiated Measure 18 would raise the minimum wage for every worker, including the teen workers whom Novstrup thinks are worth less. They could have chosen not to enact that universal minimum wage increase. Voters debated that issue and chose economic justice over David’s bad arguments.
Anderson shares my statements on the voters’ correct choice and Novstrup’s effort to undo that choice:
“If you are in the workforce, you deserve the same basic workplace protections as everybody else, whether you are 16 or 60,” said Cory Heidelberger, who started the petition drive. “Young or old, black or white, male or female, there’s no reason to have a separate minimum wage for someone who’s willing to show up and work.”
…The attempt to reverse the new law goes against the will of voters, Heidelberger said.
“This is the Legislature saying, ‘We’re in charge, you’re not,’” said Heidelberger, who is running for state Senate this fall. “And they were trying to discourage voters from doing ballot measures in the future” [Anderson, 2016.10.14].
District 3 will enjoy replacing Novstrup’s Newspeak with a Senator who talks straight and respects their will.
Update 10:38 CDT: At least David Novstrup hasn’t resorted to Main Governor Paul LePage’s argument, that sponsors of Maine’s ballot question to raise the minimum wage should be thrown in jail:
“To me when you go out and kill somebody, you go to jail. Well, this is attempted murder in my mind because it is pushing people to the brink of survival,” LePage said of the proposed minimum wage increase.
“We’ve heard directly from Republican legislators and business people in this state that the state GOP and the state Chamber of Commerce are coming together in an effort to do a blanket “Vote No” campaign,” IM 21 sponsor Steve Hildebrand said [Kelley Smith, “‘Vote No on Everything’ Campaign Controversy,” KSFY, 2016.10.03].
SDGOP exec Ryan Budmayr tells KSFY “There is no concerted effort to work with any group for a ‘No on Everything’ campaign.” Hildebrand says Budmayr is lying. Pat Powers mocks Hildebrand for basing his claim on sources whom he refuses to name… which, coming from a blogger whose non-press-release material consists of unsourced rumors and anonymous commenters, is risible.
I hesitate to accept that the SDGOP leaders would launch a “No on Everything” campaign because it would represent some hard choices and sacrifices. As Chamber chief David Owen notes, the Chamber is publicly backing Amendment R, the vo-tech governance change. The SDGOP would be unlikely to contradict Governor Dennis Daugaard, who has endorsed R… but the Governor’s own lazy ballot measure assessment would support an SDGOP effort to push “No on Everything Else.”
Even excepting R, an SDGOP “No on Everything Else” campaign would mean throwing the good Republican Novstrups under the bus on Referred Laws 19 and 20. Senator David and Representative Al both supported 19 and 20 at every opportunity during the 2015 Session. “No on Everything” would put the final nail in the political coffin David Novstrup jumped into with his affront to voters on 20, and it would undermine the creaking campaign of Al Novstrup, who is struggling to win his son’s seat against a Democratic challenger who is finding lots of popular disgust with the Novstrups’ disrespect to voters. “Vote No on Every Ballot Measure” translates into “Vote No on Al Novstrup.” Would the SDGOP really take an action that could help flip the Novstrups’ District 3 back to Democratic?
“No on Everything” would sacrifice GOP consultant Jason Glodt’s Amendment S, the astroturf crime victims bill of rights. But maybe that sacrifice is no big deal: Jason gets paid by Henry T. Nicholas whether S wins or not, and it’s no skin off the SDGOP’s nose if one of their own takes a clueless California billionaire for a ride.
“No on Everything” does kill the payday lenders’ Amendment U, the fake 18% rate cap, but I get the impression the GOP and the payday lenders don’t care what happens to U, as long as 21, the real 36% rate cap, fails. Maintain the status quo for predatory lenders, and the corporatist SDGOP breathes a sigh of relief as it keeps a wealthy donor pool happy.
Legally, one cannot form a “No on Everything” committee. South Dakotans can’t even form a “No on Two” committee, or a “Yes on Two” committee, or a “Yes on This One, No on That One” committee. When I decided to refer 19 and 20 to a vote, the Secretary of State’s office required me to form two committees, even though I am the sole member of both. When Cathy Brechtelsbauer and Sister Gabriella Crowley tried to form a ballot question that would support IM 21 and campaign against Amendment U, they had to form separate committees, one for 21, the other against U. A “No on Everything” committee might form as a meta-committee, but it would still have to form on paper ten separate “No” committees, one for each ballot measure. If such a meta-committee were to collect money and take out an ad saying, “Vote No on Everything,” that meta-committee would have to file ten separate statements itemizing its expenditure to say no to 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, R, S, T, U, and V.
A “No on Everything” committee is legally and politically complicated. I wouldn’t put it past the SDGOP, but a willingness to sacrifice two referred laws (and the members who supported them), an amendment backed by the Governor, and another amendment promoted by a longtime party golden boy would demonstrate how deathly afraid Republicans are of regulating payday lenders, losing their power to gerrymander, and making elections fairer.
…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.
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.
The Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce does a fair job of summarizing the reasons for and against Referred Law 20, Senator David Novstrup’s youth sub-minimum wage. Let’s compare their efforts to divine what proponents and opponents think:
Proponents feel that failure to establish a youth minimum wage minimizes the number of entry-level jobs that employers can provide and when this occurs, it restricts the opportunities that could be provided for more young workers. They also believe that without a youth minimum wage fewer jobs would be available for workers who need them the most, due to the economic constraints that a universal minimum wage would impose upon businesses, leading to a constriction of the job supply in South Dakota [Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, issue brief, approved 2016.07.27].
Now for the words the Chamber puts in opponents’ mouths:
Opponents believe a youth minimum wage takes advantage of a minor by paying them less for doing equivalent work as an adult—that people should be paid on merit, not on arbitrary distinctions based on age. In addition, they believe legislators have ignored the will of the people when IM 18 was passed by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin, and where the legislature abdicated the legal effect of IM 18 through the passage of SB 177 just a few months later in March 2015 [SF Chamber, 2016.07.27].
Note that these arguments require far less evidence and are far harder to refute than the proponent arguments. The youth minimum wage makes it possible to pay a seventeen-year-old less for the same work as the nineteen-year-old next to her is performing. The age distinction is arbitrary: we can find able, diligent sixteen-year-olds and bumbling, laggardly twenty-year-olds and fifty-year-olds. The voters did pass Initiated Measure 18, the minimum wage increase, by a 55–45 vote, and the votes of the Novstrups and other Republicans did abrogate (I think that’s the word the Chamber wanted) the legal effect of IM 18. Each one of those statements is plainly true, requiring only reference to the 2014 election results, the text of each law, and our own experiences with workers of different ages.
The Chamber emphasizes in its own words, not just the words it ascribes to opponents, that Referred Law 20 “was passed into law in an attempt by the legislature to override the legal effect of IM 18.” The legal effect of IM 18 was the will of the voters. The Legislature passed Referred Law 20 to override the will of the voters. Even the Sioux Falls Chamber gets that fact.
Senator David Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) shared a pleasant lunch with 29 of our neighbors and Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, who came to town to Aberdeen this noon to speak to the Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee about voter registration, ballot questions, and other electoral matters. After the show (a good, informative show—stay tuned for video and commentary), Senator Novstrup came up to me, the Democratic candidate running against his dad for his Senate seat, for our first face-to-face conversation. Funny how often that happens: I run into someone I’ve interacted with frequently on the blog, but we realize it’s the first time we’ve actually spoken in the flesh.
Senator Novstrup wanted to talk primarily about Referred Law 20, his youth sub-minimum wage. Senator Novstrup may not like my use of the personal pronoun his; he said he wishes I would spend less time making personal attacks and more time just talking about policy issues.
Senator Novstrup provided some useful exigesis of 2015 Senate Bill 177, the bill he sponsored to reduce the minimum wage for under-18 workers to $7.50 and repeal the annual cost-of-living adjustment to that youth sub-minimum wage. Senator Novstrup said the youth sub-minimum wage was one of three changes discussed at the beginning of the 2015 Session to change the minimum wage increase approved by voters in 2014.
Senator Novstrup said he heard some legislators and lobbyists talking about lowering the new minimum wage for tipped workers. Senator Novstrup said he’s not in the restaurant business (remember, he runs Thunder Road amusement park here in Aberdeen, with no tipped workers), so he didn’t want to bring a bill on that topic.
Senator Novstrup then turned to the youth sub-minimum wage. He found examples of lower minimum wages for young workers in Minnesota and in federal law (the 90-day training wage!). He floated the youth sub-minimum wage idea with Republican and Democratic legislators, and he says none of them initially responded by saying that cutting the minimum wage for young workers would constitute “an affront to voters.” When he turned the idea into SB 177 and moved it through the Legislature, he still didn’t hear legislators complaining that his proposal undermined the will of the voters expressed in Initiated Measure 16. Right up until their votes, Senator Novstrup said, other legislators, even Democrats, were saying they were still weighing the proposal. If SB 177 really were an affront to voters, wouldn’t legislators and others have reacted to it that way sooner? Senator Novstrup thus appears to conclude that his youth sub-minimum wage is not an affront to voters.
I noted that when I circulated petitions to refer SB 177 to a public vote, I met many people whose initial reaction was, “Well, I’ll sign the petition, but what good will it do? The Legislature will just change what we say anyway.” I thought that sounded like a pretty immediate recognition from voters that SB 177 had affronted their expressed will. Senator Novstrup said those reactions could also have been informed by a lot of the media spin.
Senator Novstrup did say that he’s not wedded to the $7.50 set by SB 177/now Referred Law 20. He said he had to have some number. He was pretty sure the training wage of $4.25 an hour was too low: in the current competitive job market, plenty of employers will offer more than that, and employers trying to pay $4.25 would lose staff fast. Senator Novstrup wanted to keep his youth sub-minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25. Alluding to the need to compose bills that can win enough votes to pass, Senator Novstrup said he thus settled on $7.50.
So there’s a little perspective on the legislative sausage-making that brought us the final form of the Republican Legislature’s affront to the voters’ will on the minimum wage.
As our conversation progressed, Senator Novstrup argued that I cannot truthfully say that Referred Law 20 is an affront to voters. People might vote Yes on Referred Law 20, to cut the minimum wage for young workers, for many reasons. Supporters of RL 20 might think $8.50 an hour is simply too much for kids. They might think the cost-of-living adjustment is inappropriate for young workers. They might have any number of reasons other than an evil desire to undermine the will of the voters.
I agree. When we take up Referred Law 20, Yes voters will not be committing an affront to voters. Voters cannot affront themselves. We cannot by the exercise of our will undermine our will.
I explained to Senator Novstrup that I do not view the votes we voters are about to cast on Referred Law 20 as affronts to voters. I explained that Senator Novstrup’s sponsorship of and vote for Senate Bill 177 in February 2015 were affronts to voters. In November 2014, voters said, all workers should get at least $8.50 an hour, plus an annual cost-of-living increase. In February 2015, Senator Novstrup said, Not all workers should get at least $8.50 an hour and a cost-of-living increase. Senator Novstrup’s vote and the passage of SB 177 negated a portion of the voter’s will. That negation is an affront, an action that causes outrage or offense, to voters.
Faced with that logic, Senator Novstrup said that’s just my opinion, said he doesn’t care what I think, and called me a “liar.”
Having reached the end of our constructive conversation, I responded that there is a difference between lying and being wrong. I said to Senator Novstrup that I will not call him a liar. I will say that he is very, very wrong about the words, intent, and impact of the law he passed… a law I hope to overturn to protect the ability of voters to express their will by initiative.
The tree from which that apple fell now exposes his own difficulties with accuracy. Representative Al Novstrup’s first ad campaign, launched outside District 3, links to his campaign website, the home page of which opens with an inaccurate statement:
I am running for re-election to the South Dakota State Senate. I have served in the State Senate for six years [Al Novstrup, campaign home page, downloaded 2016.08.19].
Has Al already forgotten the son he’s trying to replace. Al served six years in the Senate from 2009 through 2014, but David is District 3’s current Senator. Al is one of District 3’s two Representatives. His proper verb tense should be simple past, “I served,” not the misleading present perfect, “I have served.”
Al’s time warp continues below, where he includes in his “Legislative Accomplishments,” “Currently serving on Senate Appropriation Committee.”
Ah, no. Al is not currently on any Appropriations Committee, House, Senate, or Joint.
These errors are probably just a matter of cleaning up obsolete Web content. But you’ll want to hop to that, Rep. Al, before your son Senator David sees those errors. He can’t stand inaccuracy on the Internet.