Published March 1, 2002 | March 2002 issue
Two proposals to increase South Dakota's minimum wage were quashed in February. Instead, the idea will be subjected to a task force study.
In January, Sen. Gil Koetzle proposed raising the state's minimum from the current $5.15 an hour up to $6.25 by April 2003. Later in the month, Gov. Bill Janklow trumped Koetzle and surprised the state's business community by proposing a slightly greater increase, up to $6.30 an hour. The state's minimum wage was last raised in 1997.
Republican legislators and lobbyists for state business organizations opposed both proposals, protesting that the wage hike would hurt businesses in small towns and objecting to the state "leap-frogging" ahead of the federal government, when the state usually follows federal policy.
In considering the wage hike proposals, the Senate State Affairs Committee opted instead for a study of the possible effects of an increase on businesses and workers. A 1999 task force study initiated by the governor looked at South Dakota wages in general but didn't focus on the minimum wage level.