John Tsitrian catches go-kart king Senator Al Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) using his elected office for personal gain again. After Senator Joshua Klumb (R-20/Mitchell) withdrew his Senate Bill 100, which would have allowed municipal campgrounds to expand over the objection of some competing private campgrounds, Senator Novstrup proposed Senate Bill 179, which would have allowed municipal campgrounds in continuous existence since 1980 to expand regardless of any opposition from neighboring private campgrounds. That exemption would have applied to Wylie Park in Aberdeen, where Novstrup operates one of his four Thunder Road go-kart palaces and thus enjoys a captive camping audience brought to him by government.
Joe Sneve reports that Novstrup proposed SB 179 after a local private campground objected to and thus blocked Aberdeen’s plan to expand Wylie Park and give Novstrup more customers. Novstrup swears SB 179 isn’t about boosting his business:
Novstrup said his motivation for bringing the bill does not center on personal gain and is for the broader benefit of the city of Aberdeen and its visitor industry, as well as other city’s that might be struggling to expand municipal campgrounds. And the existing law that requires approval from the private campgrounds is limiting communities’ ability to capitalize on growing demand for camping in South Dakota, he said [Joe Sneve, “After Custer Project Killed, the Battle Between Public and Private Camping Shifts to City Campgrounds,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.02.17].
Yeah, right—just like Novstrup’s efforts to reduce regulation of his amusement park and cut the youth minimum wage while increasing regulations on competitors in the traveling carnival and bouncy-house industries were motivated entirely by Al’s concern for the public welfare, not his own profit.
The Senate didn’t see through Novstrup’s self-serving socialism, but Tsitrian does, and the House did:
Definitely it’s a terrible situation for Novstrup, and he wants that situation reversed so that taxpayer money can be used to develop campgrounds without local private operators being able to say boo about the matter.
The bill passed the Senate 30-5, but the House committee looking at it didn’t much cotton to the idea of the public sector socialistically stepping into the campground business and sent the bill into the 41st legislative day, pretty much killing it, on a 10-3 vote.
Republican socialists took it on the chin this time, but don’t worry, they’ll be back [John Tsitrian, “Sen. Al Novstrup (R-Aberdeen) Is the Republican Socialist of the Week. He Wants City Help for His Amusement Park,” South Dakota Standard, 2022.02.19].
Novstrup evidently got his bill through the Senate with some remarkable exaggerations about free market freedom in West River versus market failure and overregulation in East River:
Novstrup summed up his Senate floor speech with, “There are zero west river private businesses that will be impacted by this. … The reason west river doesn’t have a problem is because the campgrounds are private west river. The reason they’re private west river, with very few exceptions, private enterprise is able to prosper west river. East river, there isn’t that demand, so then the city government steps in and fills that void. … A yes vote will say to many cities that we want the elected officials to make the decision and not one person with $50” [staff, “Government-Owned Campgrounds Could Hurt Private Campgrounds’ Business,” KSFY, 2022.02.16].
Wait: Novstrup is offering a product that the East River market doesn’t support, so instead of changing his business model, he asks government to step in and fill the void? Wow—I find there isn’t quite enough demand for liberal blogging in South Dakota to pay my mortgage (although you donors and sponsors do cover my online costs! Thank you!); am I entitled to go to Pierre and ask for legislation to prop up my lackluster business model? Or should I just work harder and post more sports stories and Top Ten lists?
South Dakota Campground Owners Association exec Mary Arlington says Novstrup was lying to the Senate about both the market and the regulations that he said unfairly restrict city campgrounds:
Arlington was at the Committee and Senate floor discussions. She says, “I was dumbfounded by the misinformation I heard in those discussions! We plan to put a lot of facts back into center stage for the House hearing. Decisions shouldn’t be allowed to be made on misinformation.”
Arlington was present for both the Committee and Senate floor discussions. She says, “The ease in licensing was but one of several misrepresentations. The first is that some seem to not realize that the current law, as written, doesn’t prevent a community from building or expanding if there isn’t a nearby private campground, nor does it prevent building or expanding if the nearby private campground approves of the proposed expansion.”
She continued, “As for how easily and quickly a new campground license can be obtained, you cannot just walk in, pay a small fee, fill in one sheet of paper, and walk out with your license, and then begin blocking municipal campground development.” Arlington says, “We know of individuals who have legitimately wanted to be licensed for several years but they keep running into roadblocks. They’ll find a suitable parcel of land but then are told by the community that the land can’t be rezoned or used for that purpose.”
Arlington explained the process to obtain a license. “A person needs to have the land properly zoned, attain design approval from proper authorities, and then receive permission to build. As it’s being built, there are multiple inspections. Only after a successful final inspection, and the single-page application is filed and its fee is paid, can a license be given. Becoming a licensed campground owner, eligible to prevent expansion of a municipal campground, simply isn’t as simple and spontaneous as the senator made it. The chances are beyond slim that any citizen would accomplish all that in a cost-effective and timely manner just to block the expansion of municipal campground” [KSFY, 2022.02.16].
Of course, the biggest lie here is Senator Novstrup’s claim to be a good capitalist and good public servant. With bill after bill, Novstrup pursues socialist interventions that serve his own bottom line. Good work, House Local Government, in seeing through one facet of Novstrup’s big lie.