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Novstrups Complain That We Notice Their Conflict of Interest on Youth Minimum Wage

According to the Aberdeen American News, Senator David Novstrup “fired back at critics” of his youth minimum wage bill at the final Aberdeen crackerbarrel Saturday.

Reality check: while I respect the work of reporter Bryan Horwath and his fellow Aberdeen journalists, any sentence that refers to David Novstrup’s oratorical exertions as “fire” probably overstates the situation.

David and his dad Al (that’s Rep. Novstrup) both got crotchety yesterday over criticism they’ve read online that the youth minimum bill serves their interests as owners of the Thunder Road amusement parks, which employ young seasonal workers and could cut costs by paying young workers the youth minimum wage:

“On a regular basis, it’s been said that David and I would benefit from this idea because we own a business,” Rep. Novstrup said. “That’s changing the debate away from the facts to a personal attack. We have all but one employee at 18 or over and that one employee makes more than $8.50, so this would have zero impact on our business.”

Sen. Novstrup said he’s mostly seen criticism of his stance on the bill via the Internet and agreed with his father that the personal nature of the criticism has no bearing on his intent.

“Our family has put ourselves out there to serve the people of Aberdeen,” Sen. Novstrup said. “We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in Wylie Park that we didn’t have to do and we’ve provided jobs for young people — close to 200 in 20 years. Our business has done nothing but help the community. I don’t care if you like or dislike the proposal, but leave that out of it.

“I’m tired of hearing the comments, 99 percent of which are not directed at me and are said on the Internet by people hiding behind a computer. Look at the proposal — is it a good idea or not?” [Bryan Horwath, “Youth Minimum Wage Bill Sparks Fervent Debate at Cracker Barrel,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.03.08]

Hiding behind a computer? Really? I don’t feel terribly well hidden.

I have pointed out that the sponsor of a bill and his legislator-dad run a business that hires workers age 16 and up and thus may be motivated by personal business interests to sponsor a bill cutting the minimum wage for young workers. Go ahead, call that a personal attack, an argument that hinges on the identity of the person proposing the bill, an argument that would become obviously irrelevant if a different person (my dad, your sainted Aunt Myrtle, whoever) were proposing the bill.

Personal attacks are usually bogus. Saying that David Novstrup is not a fiery speaker has no bearing on whether the youth minimum wage is a good idea. But if pointing out a bill sponsor’s possible business interest in that bill is technically a personal attack, then we have an exception to the rule. David Novstrup could save money by changing the minimum wage law. Money is a powerful motive. Money could influence David Novstrup in selecting the evidence he offers to support his idea. Money is why we pass conflict-of-interest laws (remember voting for House Bill 1064, Senator Novstrup?).

David, it’s unbecoming for a Senator to play the victim card to dodge debate… especially when you’re not a victim. Your critics (at least not this critic) are not hiding or lying. Your critics are pointing out that your bill offers you and your legislator-dad a chance to boost your business’s bottom line. That situation rightly raises a red flag in grown-up politics. If you don’t like that, maybe you should have found a legislator with no such conflict of interest to lead-sponsor your bill.


  1. Tim 2015-03-08 10:14

    I don’t remember where I read it, but someplace I seen that 60% of the legislature were small business owners, it might be hard to find someone that doesn’t have a conflict. Besides, they are just fixing an oversight by the voters, right?

  2. mike from iowa 2015-03-08 10:18

    Well flat pick me,jesus. If you can’t stand the heat,get off the gubmint teat.

  3. Francis Schaffer 2015-03-08 10:18

    He calls this an unintended consequence. What about the unintended consequence of his bill? When a worker turns 18, if that worker is paid minimum wage her/his wage would increase 13.3 % and could be fired for a younger worker?

  4. Tim 2015-03-08 10:34

    Francis, there is a part of the law that, wink wink, keeps them from doing that.

  5. mike from iowa 2015-03-08 10:39

    Seems to me there is a law somewhere that says public money-tax revenues-cannot be used for parochial schools. How did that work out?

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-08 10:49

    Note those winks: Novstrup’s bill contains no enforcement mechanism that protects those overpriced 18-year-old workers from the predations of cheap child labor.

  7. Tim 2015-03-08 10:56

    The South Dakota ruling party thrives on winks and nods.

  8. Francis Schaffer 2015-03-08 11:04

    So you helped the community, David; good for you and Thank You. Has the community been good for your business? That is the way it should work, as I believe we are all in this together and the voters exercised their right to pass the minimum wage increase uninformed as you declare them to be. I want to see your data and does it apply to the rural nature of South Dakota?

  9. jerry 2015-03-08 11:08

    I have noticed that when you shine a light on cockroaches, they scurry to hide. You have done so with these legislators who stand to save a bunch of money by killing the bill that all South Dakota voters approved. A few politicos can turn the wishes of the entire state because it might cost their bottom line. That is not how a democracy works.

  10. Curt 2015-03-08 11:31

    Mike from Iowa – You are referring to SB 189 (tuition assistance for students in private schools). The bill is alive – barely. You can track this on the LRC site. A motion to place it on the calendar for debate in the House failed Friday on a 31-31 vote. There is a proposal to reconsider that motion – probably tomorrow.

  11. Owen 2015-03-08 11:50

    What it comes down to is that the people of South Dakota voted for this for ALL the people of South Dakota-including those young people.
    What the Novstrups and Republicans are trying to do is circumvent the will of the people. Hopefully Daugaard will veto this bill-but I’m not holding my breath

  12. mike from iowa 2015-03-08 13:58

    They shouldn’t be allowed to vote on a bill that could and probably will benefit them in some way. Of course,by the time all angles get considered it will be too late to stop the train.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-08 14:10

    Francis, notice that when David talks about how he’s “done nothing but help the community,” he’s committing an argumentum ad hominem, touting his personal virtue as a reason to vote for a bill. The fact that Novstrup does nice things for his neighbors is at least as irrelevant to the merits of a youth minimum wage as the fact that he advertises for youth workers whom he could pay less under his legislation.

  14. David Novstrup 2015-03-08 14:11

    Cory, are you misrepresenting the facts? Yes. Since you don’t believe the facts that I shared at the cracker barrel yesterday and with the American News, here is another fact that they didn’t mention in the article. This is an absolute fact.

    Below is the current minimum wage exemption in state law that applies to my family’s business:

    “60-11-3. Every employer shall pay to each employee wages at a rate of not less than eight dollars and fifty cents an hour. Violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The provisions of this section do not apply to certain employees being paid an opportunity wage pursuant to § 60-11-4.1, babysitters, or outside salespersons. The provisions of this section also do not apply to employees employed by an amusement or recreational establishment, an organized camp, or a religious or nonprofit educational conference center if one of the following apply:

    (1) The establishment, camp, or center does not operate for more than seven months in any calendar year; or

    (2) During the preceding calendar year, the average receipts of the establishment, camp, or center for any six months of the calendar year were not more than thirty-three and one-third percent of its average receipts for the other six months of the year.”

    My family business also has a federal minimum wage exemption which you can read by clicking on the following link.

    So why would I need to introduce a bill that gives us a second exemption? I wouldn’t because that would make no sense. We currently don’t use the above federal or state exemptions! Our employees’ pay is competitive with the current job market in Aberdeen and we pay all of our current employees OVER $8.50 per hour. We also give our employees an opportunity to earn up to a $1 per hour more as a bonus. We also only have one person that works for us that is under 18 years old. They will turn 18 this summer sometime. So why would I introduce a bill that gives us a second exemption and we only have one employee under 18 that could benefit from it? I wouldn’t. I actually have the least benefit or conflict of interest in SB 177 passing in the legislature because of the above exemptions. These are the facts.

    If you want to debate the bill go ahead- that is part of the process and I’m glad that it is. In Pierre, legislators focus on the issues not on personal attacks that spread misinformation or lies. I would hope you would do the same.

    For the people that want to see my research, go and listen to either the house committee hearing on SB 177 ( or listen to my opening remarks from the cracker barrel from two weeks ago ( I will leave you with one last question. If a youth minimum wage is such a bad idea why do Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and several other states have a similar law to the one I proposed? Minnesota’s law applies to people 17 years old and younger and the current minimum wage is $6.50 per hour.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-08 14:18

    Senator Novstrup, are you just hiding behind a computer when you say these things? ;-)

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-08 14:28

    Why yes, Senator Novstrup, SDCL 60-11-3 does exempt amusement parks like yours from the minimum wage law. That change was made by the 2011 Legislature, via House Bill 1148… which you voted for in the House on February 9, 2011.

    So to ensure that I’m not misrepresenting or lying in any way, it appears that your current legislation does not affect the minimum wage applied to your establishment. You already have an exemption, all of your workers, not just the young ones, that you helped create with separate legislation four years ago. Now you’re just being generous and offering other businesses the same legal opportunity to exploit young workers that you approved for yourself four years ago. Very generous of you.

    I am curious why your dad didn’t vote for that 2011 HB 1148 in the Senate.

  17. mike from iowa 2015-03-08 14:30

    We also only have one person that works for us that is under 18 years old. They will turn 18 this summer sometime.

    So now one employee becomes plural in the blink of a sentence?

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-08 14:33

    And the fact that several states do a bad idea (youth minimum wage, anti-union “right-to-work” laws) is not proof that it’s a good idea… or are you willing, if I cede this point (and I may!) to bring forward a bill for a state income tax, on the basis of the existence of a state income tax in most Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and several other states?

  19. Nick Nemec 2015-03-08 16:50

    Get that chip off your shoulder Mr. Novstrup and just admit you are the prime sponsor of the most anti family proposal of the 2015 legislative session.

  20. bearcreekbat 2015-03-08 16:59

    Cory, South Dakota needs a very progressive state income tax! Just look at the benefits the people of Minnesota have reaped. Come on Sen. Novstrup, introduce a progressive state income tax bill.

  21. Jana 2015-03-08 17:07

    This is becoming a very expensive bill.

    Think of the political capital that has been wasted and how much it is going to cost the Retailers Association to buy their legislature next year.

    If this spins any more out of control, SDRA members could be hurt as well.

  22. Les 2015-03-08 17:13

    Cory@ “I am curious why your dad didn’t vote for that 2011 HB 1148 in the Senate. Why would he waste the political ammo with a 31 to 4 vote, Cory.

  23. Francis Schaffer 2015-03-08 18:52

    So, Senator Novstrup will you be proposing a bill to remove sales tax on food and clothes because some of the neighboring states do that? That in my opinion should be the next referendum!

  24. grudznick 2015-03-08 19:44

    The younger of the Brothers Novstrup seems like a fiery enough fella to me. Even if he was trying to pass this bill to cut one kid’s wages it should be in his right to pay what he wants. You don’t like the wages, don’t do the job. I’m just sayin…

  25. Roger Elgersma 2015-03-08 20:31

    So what if teenagers boycott this business next summer.

  26. grudznick 2015-03-08 20:45

    Teenagers will never boycott a carnival. Especially in Aberdeen What else would they do, swim in a pond?

  27. Francis Schaffer 2015-03-08 20:48

    People vote with money too!

  28. tara volesky 2015-03-08 21:52

    How about the Democrat party referring a corporate and personal income tax to the people, which could cut property taxes in half. After all 40-45 state have corporate and personal income taxes. Time for the rich to pay their fair share.

  29. Dana P 2015-03-08 22:29

    Senator N…… Way back in 1980 or so, when I was a youth, I made “minimum wage” which was around $6-$7 an hour, if I remember correctly. Remember what fuel, insurance, car expenses cost back then to help me get to that job? (by the way, adults working the same exact job as me got the same exact wage. this isn’t rocket science)

    Fast forward 35 years……THIRTY FIVE years!! and “our” legislators who represent the welfare state of South Dakota—– Legislators who represent a state that ranks down in the basement as far as wages go (well, this state ranks last in other things also, but that is a whole ‘nuther topic) so this little tap dance of wages that around the $8.50 mark and a wee bit higher….and are going to quibble about what adults get versus what youth get for doing the SAME JOB!! Now, how much do things cost now versus 35 years ago? And you stand strong about a minimum wage being at the mark you quibble about? WOW!!

    And what about democracy in this state and what the voters said in November? If you really don’t give a rip that South Dakota citizens (youth or adult) make horrible wages – then at least have some concern of what the voters told you in November.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-08 22:37

    Indeed, the door swings wide when Senator Novstrup starts telling us we should do something because other states do it. Personal income tax, corporate income tax, food and clothing sales tax exemptions, jumping off a cliff….

  31. mike from iowa 2015-03-09 01:44

    Serf’s rising….

  32. Jana 2015-03-09 23:40

    The Norvstrup’s shouldn’t worry. John Thune has their back and is making sure that instead of hiring hard working South Dakotans for a living wage, they should import their labor!

    How sad is that. South Dakota’s 2nd largest industry needs to bring in immigrant labor to be sustainable. Gotta wonder why John Thune thinks that South Dakotans aren’t as hard of workers as workers from other countries.

    John? Tourism industry?

    We’re waiting.

  33. Jana 2015-03-09 23:43

    I refuse to link to GOP press release central, but you can look there or on JT’s website to see his letter regarding H2-B visas.

  34. Jana 2015-03-10 00:36

    Oh Jerry, in South Dakota sedition would be a badge of honor if it was done to go against the first black American president…at least right after they cashed the checks to keep the state running.

    Hi staffers from Mike and John’s offices!

    Get back to the citizens of South Dakota on this one will you. Thanks in advance.

    PS, staffers. Are you HB-2 staffers or do they pay you a living wage?

  35. jerry 2015-03-10 10:28

    Thanks Jana, Thune and Rounds will probably not have to answer for their treason to the United States here as I see it does not even make it in the states media. We wear our racist badges with pride.

  36. mike from iowa 2015-03-10 11:10

    iowa’s octogenutjob sinator and his rubberstamp accomplice-former kgb agent and freshperson sinator Ivana Kuturnutzov signed the letter. I signed the petition to condemn the traitorious bastards.

  37. leslie 2015-03-24 03:19 “media enable anti-worker movement” 3.21.15, d. c. johnston-NPR did a dismal report supporting KOCH’s “serious, well-funded, thoroghly documented” agenda, only retracting “one” error after questioned…last week.

    this is in tandem with voter restrictions like SB69

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