Noem plans to tackle abortion, civic education, broadband in 2021 Legislative session
PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) - Gov. Kristi Noem delivered her third State of the State address, which focused on South Dakota families and accomplishments while highlighting her key legislation initiatives in Pierre Tuesday.
Addressing 2020, Noem acknowledged it was a tough year. “The people of South Dakota deserve all the credit” when it comes to COVID-19 response, Noem said. South Dakota is leading in vaccination, despite having a high death rate and cases per capita.
COVID-19 has claimed 1,585 lives in South Dakota. The state has been booming economically, one reason being businesses have used the $1.25 billion of COVID-19 aid Congress allotted South Dakota.
Telehealth services were expanded as the state addressed the COVID-19 pandemic, Noem said. South Dakota clinics made an effort to provide online care for patients. Noem said people used tech services “more than 70,000 times in South Dakota’s Medicaid program” since March.
Noem moved on to her legislation. Notably, Noem asked lawmakers to ban abortion for children based on the grounds they have Down Syndrome. Abortion in South Dakota, compared to the rest of the United States, is heavily restricted, with one clinic that performs procedures and a myriad of laws in place.
“I share this because even today, in 2021, some European countries, like Iceland and Denmark, are on pace to virtually eliminate children with Down syndrome,” Noem said. “They do this one way and one way only: through abortion.”
To teach South Dakota K-12 students more critical thinking, debate, and civic engagement skills, she wants to introduce legislation that will create instructional materials to teach South Dakota students on America’s founding, U.S. South Dakota history.
“We must also do a better job educating teachers on these three subjects,” Noem said. “Through all of this, our common mission and key objective needs to be explaining why the United States of America is the most special nation in the history of the world.”
This was met with a standing ovation.
Noem didn’t detail whether she wants to add or remove from the current curriculum.
In other education news, South Dakota’s first needs-based scholarship was announced last week. With funding from Denny Sanford and PREMIER, who pledged $100 million. Noem asked legislatures for a one-time $50 million allocation.
“The endowment for this critical scholarship fund needs $200 million to be self-sustaining into the future,” Noem said.
One of Noem’s major initiatives this year significantly boosting rural broadband. According to her, 135,000 South Dakotans don’t have high-speed broadband.
Noem said the state is making a $100 million investment and another $100 million of industry funding and federal grants to connect rural communities to the internet.
According to the legislative calendar, Noem will file her executive orders are filed Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.
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