Over at Dakota Free Press there are two referendum petitions that have been started by Cory Heidelberger. He has setup a page to be a central local to learn about and again access to the petitions. These petitions would stop two laws from being enacted on July 1, 2015, provided enough signatures are turned into the Secretary of State. In this post I will briefly look each referendum, one which I support and one I oppose. As time goes on I may do expanded posts about each referendum, but for now a cliff notes post is what I have time for.
This is the bill that kept going downhill as it went through the legislative process. That is too bad. I originally supported the idea of the bill because it would have been a fair start at election petition reform in South Dakota. I do believe the current petition system in South Dakota needs to be reevaluated and in particular the petition challenge process needs to be changed in ways that would protect the integrity of the election process. Sadly this bill as passed into law no longer does anything but play partisan politics with the rights of South Dakota citizens to challenge the party in power.
There is only one real reservation I have about the referendum process for SB 69. Personally I believe at least two portions of the bill as passed into law would not be upheld as constitutional in federal court. Back in the 80’s the Secretary of the State at the time acknowledged to a federal court that forcing a newly formed party to follow early petition deadlines was wrong. The State Affairs committee was made aware of this and still proceeded to leave that portion un-amended. Additionally SB 69 forces Independent candidates to follow partisan primary rules. That is also something that has been found unconstitutional in other states and shows a misunderstanding of what “independent” means when it comes to the election process. Independent candidates fall completely outside of the partisan primary process and should only have to worry about laws governing the general election. Personally I was hoping this law would go to court so the legislature and Governor would understand that playing partisan politics with constituents election rights are not something to be messed with. But then at the same time I hate it when the State has to spend money to defend a law that never should have passed. So with that mind I fully support SB 69 being referred to the voters.
I will have a copy of this petition with me over the next couple of months and plan to get at least some signatures for the referendum.
SB 177 is an interesting bill because I can understand why many would support SB 177 being referred, but in the end I oppose it being referred. This law would change the minimum wage for those under 18 to $7.50/hour. This is in response to the minimum wage going up due to the initiated measure on last years ballot.
Part of me supports SB 177 being referred because I can understand where people are coming from that the SD Legislature should not change an initiated measure the year it becomes effective. Whether the initiated measure was good or bad from any particular viewpoint, it cannot be denied that a majority of SD voters chose to pass the new minimum wage into law. The legislature has the right to change such laws immediately after being passed into law. There was an attempt this year through HB 1175 to prohibit the legislature from changing an initiated measure for year. That would have been a bad idea. The reason the legislature needs to be able to change an initiated measure right away is in case there is a problem or an unintended consequence that must be fixed right away.
So the question is whether SB 177 can be considered a fix. There is an argument from the supporters of the bill that the new minimum wage will adversely impact young workers because it will make employers much less likely to hire any unskilled and inexperienced teenage workers. I know I’ve talked to some employers that often hire teenage kids for seasonal/temporary work at minimum wage. Due to the increased minimum wage many of them are likely going to reduce the amount of hours they offer these teenagers. That is mainly because the amount of money they have budgeted for such work is fixed. No matter what the wage is set at there is only so much actual funding available for these jobs. A second, and possibly more likely, scenario is that youth employment will appear to go down; but in fact will increase because such labor will be forced to the grey market. That means employers will still hire kids to do work. But they will pay these kids under the table. The grey market tends to increase when taxes and/or regulations go up. By increasing the minimum wage, especially on teen workers, it provides further incentives to hire teenagers outside of normal channels. That means the teenager can keep all of his or money (no taxes withheld) and the employer can keep their payroll liability costs down. A case could be made that passing SB 177 actually will keep more teenage workers in the tax system by keeping their labor out of the grey market.
But fix or not I won’t support the referral of SB 177. Minimum wage laws are temporary fixes for what is actually ailing poor people. The problem with the economy in the US is that purchasing power corrodes at ever-increasingly rates. No matter how far wages are raised through legislation it cannot do anything to reverse that trend. Instead time should be focused on reducing the biggest tax on American’s (especially the poor): inflation caused by the private bank known as the Federal Reserve. Additionally the cost of over-regulation must be looked at in order to reduce the cost of goods and services. Without addressing the root cause of purchasing power loss it doesn’t matter how many times the minimum wage is increased. Finally increasing the minimum wage is also a factor that reduces the purchasing power of US consumers (although a much smaller factor than many other factors). That is why I cannot see supporting the referral of SB 177. In the end it doesn’t really matter if SB 177 is enacted into law or not. Either way purchasing power for consumers will continue to drop and many will continue to call for the same minimum wage increases that haven’t solved anything over the last century.