The South Dakota Democratic Party is ready to turn in thousands of signatures on Monday to force a vote raising the minimum wage next November. While party leaders say it will boost South Dakota's economy, Republicans argue it will hurt small businesses.
South Dakota Democrats will be bringing piles of signed petitions to Pierre on Monday to take the process of raising the minimum wage to the next step: a public vote.
The plan is to raise the wage from $7.25 to $8.50. Along the campaign trail, Field Director for the South Dakota Democratic Party Ryan Rolfs has seen not just employees, but employers come up to him about the issue.
"We've also had a lot of businesses that are actually in support of this and those businesses already are paying over minimum wage, their traditionally local businesses that are approaching us," Rolfs said.
On the other side of the aisle, District 12 Republican State Representative Manny Steele sees raising the minimum as a problem for small local businesses.
"What happens if we raise the wage for the workers that they have. Their going to have to raise the cost of their product or their going to have to let workers go or if push comes to shove, they might have to close their business. Now we've lost jobs," Steele said.
They also differ on who this issue really impacts.
"Who are we talking about as far as these minimum wage workers? Well, basically, the way it appears to me and what I understand is, they're teenagers," Steele said.
"I've heard on the campaign trail, people say, 'this only affects high schoolers, we don't need to raise their wages. They can make $7.25 an hour,' but 78 percent of those people are over the age of 20," Rolfs said.
If the Democrats are bringing enough signatures with them to Pierre on Monday, it will be up to the public to decide.
South Dakota Democrats will announce how many signatures they have gathered in a press conference scheduled Monday morning. They need nearly 16,000.