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  • Friday, January 23, 2009

    The Senator From Sidney

    Walleye Still Waiting
    how's your table service ?
    .. No action was taken yesterday in the Montana State Legislature on SB-15. This is the bill introduced by Senator DONALD STEINBEISSER (R) of Sidney, Montana. [See previous two posts.]
    .. Sidney is a pleasant community just 4.6 miles from the North Dakota border. It's on the banks of the Yellowstone River and most of it's news and activities make the papers in Fargo, and Minot, North Dakota.
    .. Senator Steinbeisser, is chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation committee, and a member of the Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs - & - Natural Resources committees. Although he does not fish, he believes that SB-15 will go a long way toward "correcting" the view that trout are the only fish in Montana.
    .. His sponsorship of a bill that would deify an invasive species as a native species, and update scientific names is just what could be expected from someone that does not fish, and one who thinks that it's the legislature's place to correct science. [[ Shades of the Butler Act and the Scopes Trial.]] - - - Is there a family resemblance?
    .. This gentleman is also the sponsor of a bill, (SB-253,) [[Story in Great Falls tribune,]] that would allow an employer a tip credit to meet the minimum wage for tipped employees.
    .. Although the bill is aimed at cutting wages of restaurant staff to somewhere in the $2.50/hr. range (capped at $6.90/hr. and adjusted for tips.) This will have far reaching consequences in all parts of Montana's service centered economy.
    .. The bill would allow employers to 'count' tips as wages and reduce salaries accordingly. It also includes provisions to 'update' the reductions on an annual basis.
    .. Pause, for just a moment, and consider the results of this mentality on the service sector of the economy in service-centered Montana.
    .. Tourism is a giant chunk of our economy. The workers are restaurant staff, pub staff, fishing guides, hunting guides, tour guides, hotel staff, and everyone that strives to make visiting Montana a memorable experience.
    .. Will your wait staff have any incentive to serve you diligently if the tip is counted as wages? Will a fishing guide, employed by a feather merchant, have any call to find fish for tips - if the tips are deducted from the standard guide fees? [[See MidCurrent for Tips on tipping.]]
    .. Will tour guides bother to enhance your experience if their tip is just 'another day's wage?'
    .. The IRS is going to have a field day with this one. Stingy business owners are going to drive away competent help. Why would any competent and thinking service worker bother to excel if the fruit of their efforts just went into their "owner's" pocket instead of their own?
    .. If your walleye sandwich falls on the floor between the kitchen and your table, it's going to be picked up and presented just as carelessly as if it didn't fall under the 10-second rule.
    .. And, if the fishing guides of Montana have to kick-back their tips to the proprietors of feather bins and hackle racks, you might just as well stay home and fish in the toilet.
    .. We're going to follow SB-15 and SB-253. Maybe there will even be a bill to extend the borders of North Dakota just 5 miles to the west. We'd vote for that.