RL20 Puts Youth Minimum Wage To A Vote

Jul 26, 2016

David Novstrup
Credit sdlegislature.gov

South Dakota voters get the chance to vote on a minimum wage again in November. What is known as Referred Law Twenty seeks to reiterate whether or not the minimum wage established by voters two years ago is the ultimate will of the people.
 
In the 2015 session, legislators changed the law passed by voters in 2014.  Lawmakers approved a lower minimum wage for workers under the age of seventeen.

Back in 2014, South Dakota passed an initiated measure to increase the state’s minimum wage to $8.50, with cost of living adjustments.
 
The following legislative session, state Senator David Novstrup brought forth a bill that tweaked the law passed by voters. Novstrup’s bill established a one-dollar-lower minimum wage for workers under the age of seventeen.
 
He says it helps younger workers get their first job..
 
“Some people will say that this is about businesses,” Novstrup says. “I would argue that it’s more for the young person getting that job or for the business—it’s not about the business saving money. It’s about giving that young person that first job and getting that opportunity.”
 
Novstrup says Minnesota has a similar law on their books.

Cory Heidelberger
Credit Courtesy of Cory Heidelberger

But Cory Heidelberger, who is running for district three’s senate seat against Novstrup’s dad, Al, circulated petitions to bring the bill before the voting public.
 
Heidelberger says David Novstrup’s bill undermined the will of voters.
 
“That’s why kids all over the state, who are working hard right now, last summer and this summer, they’re minimum wage is $8.50 an hour right now,” Heidelberger says. “They kept $8.50 last year. They got the nickel increase just like every other worker, and they’re getting that thanks to our petition effort. Now we just have to power through to November and get the people of South Dakota to say ‘That’s what we really meant, let’s set that minimum wage for everybody. Let’s not cut it for the kids.’”
 
South Dakota voters decide the youth minimum wage issue in November.