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Senator Novstrup Shows His Sausage-Making on Youth Minimum Wage, Then Shouts “Liar!”

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

My State Senator just called me a liar.

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 heard other legislators and lobbyists asking to dismantle the annual cost-of-living adjustment. Rep. Jim Bolin (R-16/Canton) brought such a bill (2015 HB 1094), with the co-sponsorship and committee support of Rep. Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen), but that bill failed in the full House.

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.


  1. Jenny 2016-09-01

    Face it, it’s really is just the Republicans that want the lowest wages possible. The MN GOP state legislators insisted on treating teenagers unfairly and having that lower wage rule on the min wage hike bill. It wouldn’t have passed otherwise and just goes to show the pettiness of republicans when it all just boils down to a few pennies difference.
    Like the one MN DFL legislator said, if you can’t afford to pay nothing but crap wages, maybe that person shouldn’t be in business.

  2. Jenny 2016-09-01

    SD GOP legislators just can’t possibly ever have any sympathy for the people they represent which are the lowest paid workers in the nation along with their sister state Mississippi.

  3. Honest John 2016-09-01

    Thank you. I concur with you. It is disheartening for us “plain Jane” voters to think that we actually got government to bend a little to our will (original bill) and then have that subverted to an individual legislators view. At 70, I am frankly tired of all this bullpucky. The average wage in SD is what, third lowest in the nation. I am sure that the repug goal is beat out Miss. and Ala. for that title.

  4. Darin Larson 2016-09-01

    I was against this bill for many reasons, so I didn’t pay attention to the fact that it would not only provide the lower wage to workers under the age of 18, but it would also remove the cost of living adjustment.

    What policy argument is there to support not giving cost of living increases to the minimum wage for workers under the age of 18? Does inflation not affect the youth? Is business hoping to decrease real wages as time passes? Is $7.50 too much now in the opinion of Novstrup, so he is fine with inflation reducing wages for youth? He doesn’t want to propose an even lower minimum wage that would have COLA adjustments?

    Seriously, three months after the voters speak on an issue and Republican business interests try to overrule part of the law. That is an affront to voters.

    For goodness sake, during the teacher pay debate we actually heard Republicans argue that voters had decided against a teacher pay funding increase back in 2012. Never mind that the 2012 funding proposal went half to medicare funding and it would have increased the sales tax more and not offered any property tax relief. I would like to know how many hypocrites in the legislature voted against the teacher pay increase this year, but voted for Senate Bill 177.

    SB 177 is an affront to voters and it is an affront to youth workers who could make less real, inflation-adjusted dollars as time goes on. Tell me, do you think the legislature will act as quickly to raise the youth wage when inflation eats into it as they did to try to take away wages from kids?

  5. Roger Elgersma 2016-09-01

    About 25 years ago I was receiving a magazine called Inc.. It was for small business. They had an issue once per year listing the 500 fastest growing businesses in the country. Since fast growth happens more in a small business rather than in a huge one, I mean more than fifty percent growth per year, there were a lot of small businesses in it. Gateway was South Dakota’s claim to fame and one year Motel 8 who had just moved their head office to Aberdeen was listed. Otherwise South Dakota in its ‘good business climate’ was not mentioned. But there was a small square with a little article in the bottom corner of one of those articles. It stated that Mississippi, Alabama and South Dakota were regularly in the bottom five states with taxes and just as consistently in the bottom five for fast growing businesses. Well those three are also in the bottom five states for wages. So low wages, plus low taxes seems to translate into slow business growth. That is reality, not theory. But the republicans theorize that they have a pro business state here in South Dakota. It just does not work like their dreams. Just like Paul Ryan says that he thinks people should imagine that low taxes would balance the budget, well it did not work for his hero Reagan and it has not worked for either Bush nor for the American worker. So much for dreaming the country into greatness. There is a price for a great country and it includes taxes.

  6. mike from iowa 2016-09-01

    The more moolah one earns, the more FICA taxes one pays over the years and the bigger your SS check will be when you need it

    Reducing wages for youths only discourages them, which is prolly what wingnuts want.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-01

    Jenny, so you’re telling us that the Minnesota youth minimum wage wasn’t a response to economic forces but just a political bargaining chip to keep Republicans on board with the overall minimum wage increase?

  8. grudznick 2016-09-01

    You really drove home the phrase “Senator Novstrup” by fitting it into your writing 23 times there, Mr. H. Aren’t you afraid that will stick in the minds of some of the voters who read your bloggings? And I’d add, you featured the handsome young man’s picture prominently and that makes me wonder if people will think that is a picture of Novstrup the elder. The fellow who wants to be once again Senator Novstrup.

  9. Rorschach 2016-09-01

    Forget about the outgoing junior Novstrup. Focus on your opponent. Keep talking about the Novstrup minimum wage cut and COLA elimination.

  10. Barb 2016-09-01

    Lol this guy is level 13 dumb.

    It’s too bad he doesn’t use drugs – that would be a more satisfying explanation to his stupidity.

    I go to church with this guy, and toxic levels of dumb when talking to him are somewhere between infuriating and contagious.

  11. grudznick 2016-09-01

    I wonder if he, Novstrup the younger, really shouted “Liar!” and if so perhaps somebody has this on a video movie with pointing fingers or other gesticulations included. That would be damning evidence indeed, perhaps of a Novstrup genetic predisposition.

  12. Darin Larson 2016-09-01

    Grudznick, Cory using the word “senator” so much is wise in an anti-incumbent year. A suggested slogan: “If you are ok with low wages, vote for the senator and he will lower your wages even more.”

  13. grudznick 2016-09-01

    Mr. Larson, Mr. H does not blog to get votes, he blogs to encourage discussion. He said so himself, and I believe him.

  14. Darin Larson 2016-09-01

    Oh, I believe him as well. He’s a better muckraker than a candidate who tells you what you want to hear. He’s not a politician at heart–that is readily apparent. But in this day and age that is a good thing.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-01

    Now, Barb, that’s one of those personal attacks that David and I both dislike. We both prefer discussions of policy. So what do you think of Senator Novstrup’s policies and legislative performance?

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-01

    Grudz, Senator Novstrup said exactly what I said he said. I stand by every word I say here.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-01

    Indeed—my opponent voted for the minimum wage cut. My opponent voted for the COLA elimination. My opponent committed two affronts to the voters.

  18. grudznick 2016-09-01

    I believe you, Mr. H. Completely. Your “headline” says he “shouted it.” I wasn’t questioning the words he used, only the volume at which he spoke them.

  19. Bob Newland 2016-09-01

    Over the past 20 years of lobbying for common sense in the legislature, I have seen this level of bigotry so many times that your description of the encounter does nothing more than remind me of how hopeless it is to attempt to present facts to a SoDak Republican.

  20. Bob Newland 2016-09-01

    Look at those sociopathic eyes. (See Novstrup photo above)

  21. grudznick 2016-09-01

    Interesting observation by my good friend Bob. I just recently heard a news story about certain drugs causing psychosis and that’s a lot like sociopathic. And the younger Mr. Novstrup does look a little drowsy and maybe hungry in that picture.

  22. grudznick 2016-09-01

    So many drugs, indeed, Bob. So many drugs.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-01

    Grudz, I did not have my phone’s decibel meter on. At the beginning of our conversation, I offered David the opportunity to share his comments on video for public record. He declined. At the point he issued his false accusation, he was not speaking in a normal, conversational tone of voice. I invite you to ask the Ramkota front desk people if they were able to hear his voice down the hall. His false accusation came through loud and clear to me.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-01

    Now, enough with the personal stuff (Bob). Let’s get back to the main issue: was the passage of SB 177 an affront to voters? Does David’s background to the bill make it sound less inimical to the initiative process and the legislative power reserved to voters by our constitution?

  25. grudznick 2016-09-01

    I am a voter, and I know other voters who are not affronted. So we should not what affronts Mr. H or some others necessarily affronts all voters. Just some voters.

  26. Joe Nelson 2016-09-01

    I just want to say that I have always found it humorous how closely related “affront” and “taken aback” are in meaning and usage. And also that the term is used 11 times in the blog post.

    I would also say that since you were in public, it is perfectly acceptable to hang an iPhone around your neck and record everything that occurs. Anyone having a discussion in a hotel lobby should have no expectation of privacy.

  27. Adam 2016-09-02

    Obama had a U.S. House Representative (Joe Wilson) yell, “you lie!!!” during a Presidential address to the nation. Later, the Republican House passed a resolution of disapproval of Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst.

    Cory, this might put you in the same category as the President – lol – but when your opponent has nothing left in him to explain his differing perspective than to simply call you ‘a liar,’ it’s an admission of incompetence and of an inability to work with others. Novstrup needs a word of proffessional advice from his Republican colleges, and a slap down, about how to be an effective communicator while not degrading the fabric of civil discourse.

    Dude needs to learn how to talk in front of people.

  28. mike from iowa 2016-09-02

    Grudz, perhaps you are confusing affronted with having man boobs.

  29. Jenny 2016-09-02

    For the Party that prides themselves on being prolife, the GOP has an empathy problem with the low wage workers that serve them. (meant to say).

  30. mikeyc, that's me! 2016-09-02

    I was taken aback at your comment.

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-03

    Joe, we should be taken aback by affronts.

    David used the term “affront” continually in his argument to me. I use the word to accurately reflect his language.

    I should get a lanyard for my phone so I can hang it on my front and later play back these conversations.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-03

    Adam, I agree with your assessment that David’s resort to false insult signifies the failure of his argument and his professionalism. He seems not to have expected resistance to his argument… a chronic problem among Republicans who have become complacent amidst one-party rule. That’s all the more reason to send more Democrats to Pierre to remind them of the existence of other viewpoints.

  33. Douglas Wiken 2016-09-03

    Cory, you can get 3 recoil ID tag lanyards for less than $2 at Dollar General. With a little wire bending on the end, they work reasonably well with a cellphone in your shirt pocket. I will however probably return to my homemade lanyard using a shoelace and the clamp end of a spade wire connector to make the loops. Used a clamp from an old ID tag to hook the lanyard to my shirt collar. It is a bit obvious compared to the fine fish line in the Dollar General retractable cord however. Both have prevented me from dumping phones into water or oil, etc.

  34. Darin Larson 2016-09-04

    Cory, I think you need a Google Glass type instrument on your head that we record video and sound for all your public interactions. It wouldn’t have to look like the Borg but it could if you wanted it to.

  35. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-09-04

    For all of my public interactions? Hmmm…

    I could store 4.5 hours of hi-res video on a GoPro with a 64GB card. Or I could just hang my phone around my neck and press “periscope”, right?

  36. grudznick 2016-09-04

    I don’t know how a periscope would work when you’re not under water, Mr. H, but the Go Pro idea if you mounted that on your head would really give us viewers a very first person look at what it is like to be you. And if one of those older fellows wearing shorts got all up in your face again it would make for a really good blogging. You could make this Go Pro ideal broadcast on the internets or something, or even live blog from the floors of the legislatures. Like what Mr. Nelson used to do only better.

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