Governor Noem wants it easier to get guns, harder to get abortions | Local

Stephen Groves Associated Press

STONE | South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said on Tuesday she would push legislation to ban abortions after six weeks pregnant, as she put together a very conservative priority list to start the state’s legislative session.

In the last state of the state address of her first term, the Republican governor proposed what amounted to a wish list for Tory voters, promising to make it easier for residents of the state to obtain a Permitted to Carry Concealed Firearms and Almost Impossible for Them to Obtain an Abortion. It also proposes a requirement that schools allocate time for prayer, a ban on teaching controversial race material in public schools, and COVID-19 vaccine exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

“In South Dakota, we are protecting freedom, and we will pass it on to our children, and we will not allow freedom to die out,” the governor said, as she mocked other states for having adopted restrictions to prevent and slow COVID-19 infections. .

Noem used his hands-off approach to the pandemic to grab the attention of Republicans nationwide. She has positioned herself for a White House candidacy in 2024, and her speech on Tuesday showed a willingness to exploit the country’s most incendiary social issues to stay in the spotlight.

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“It was a campaign speech,” said Rep. Jamie Smith, the Democratic House leader, adding that it was a “model of how can I be conservative?”

The governor’s office did not immediately release details of the bill to ban abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy – often known as the “heartbeat law”. The Supreme Court’s willingness to consider overturning Roe v. Wade – the 1973 ruling that established nationwide abortion rights – sparked a wave of drafting bills in state houses.

But medical experts say the heart only begins to form when the fetus is at least nine weeks old, and they denounce efforts to promote the abortion ban on the basis of medical inaccuracies.

“Today, I ask all of you to protect the heartbeats of these unborn children,” Noem told lawmakers in the House chamber. “I am proposing legislation to ban all abortions once a heartbeat can be detected.”

The proposal received a standing ovation from the Republican-dominated legislature.

Noem also touted a tax surplus of $ 116 million and offered to use it to reduce fees for concealed weapons license applications, including to cover the cost of federal background checks. She also proposed to reduce the fees for registering businesses with the Secretary of State and reducing the tax on bingo operations.

Noem’s list of proposals will put Democrats, who hold just 11 seats in the Legislature, on the defensive. But Noem also faces several political enemies within her own party, including a House member who is mounting a primary campaign against her.

Rep. Steve Haugaard, who criticized the governor for not being conservative enough, agreed that Noem’s state-of-state speech was more of a campaign speech and said if the governor was serious about such proposals, she would not have waited until the final year of her mandate to raise them.

The governor’s tenure has been marked by the coronavirus pandemic and his decision to mostly waive blockages or other restrictions. Noem defended those who did not get the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, saying: “We live in a free country and we are free to make our own decisions.”

Smith criticized the governor’s failure to encourage people to get vaccinated, pointing out that the overwhelming majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated. State hospitals have been strained in recent weeks as they treat the highest number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in more than a year.

But Republican Representative Chris Johnson of Rapid City, the deputy leader of the House Republicans, praised the governor’s speech and his approach to the pandemic, saying it allowed the state to thrive in the future.

“The governor deserves a victory lap right now,” he said.

Noem touted South Dakota’s model of “staying open for business” during the pandemic as the cause of new businesses, an influx of tourists and attracting new residents to the state. The governor specifically mentioned AEsir Technologies, which announced plans to build a new 600,000 square foot factory in Rapid City.

“AEsir Technologies chose Rapid City as the location for its new Gigafactory after nationwide research,” she said. “They looked at what every other state in this country had to offer and then chose South Dakota as the best place to grow. They will create 400 new high-tech, well-paying jobs as a result.”

The governor also praised Black Hills Harley-Davidson in Rapid City and Albany Farms in Belle Fourche for achieving new business goals and for building new facilities in South Dakota.

“No matter how these businesses got here or started, they thrive because here in South Dakota the government is standing aside, allowing them to grow and innovate, and help where we can. “said Noem.

She called on the Legislature to support her plan to build 175 additional campsites at Custer State Park, a project announced by Noem during the Dec. 7 budget presentation. The governor said the new campsites are needed to accommodate more tourists visiting the Black Hills.

“Our state parks saw a 10% increase in park entry licenses from last year’s record, with approximately 8.5 million visitors. We plan to add more campsites at Custer State Park to expand our ability to accommodate people from both inside and out of state. Said Noah. “Since 2015, we have seen an increase of almost 100,000 reserved camping nights across the state park system. I hope you will support these projects.”

– Newspaper associate editor Nathan Thompson contributed to this report.

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