Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) is not backing Republican legislation seeking to ban so-called vaccine mandates within the state.
Republican state Reps. Jon Hansen and Scott Odenbach are trying to null businesses mandating their employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19 through the “COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom of Conscience Act.”
Noem claims such legislation is a slippery slope that could lead to other dictates toward businesses Republicans might not like. “If we mandate one thing, are we setting a precedent for what we are telling businesses they have to do far into the future?” Noem posed.
The Republican governor has, though, banned vaccine mandates for employees in state and local government in SD.
She has also argued that employees of private businesses opposed to a vaccine mandate can go work elsewhere.
“Workers whose employers are mandating a vaccine for continued employment have the power to say no,” Noem posted to Twitter on July 31. “Our robust economy and job market gives them the option to find a new employer that values personal choice and responsibility, and doesn’t force mandates on their employees.”
Workers whose employers are mandating a vaccine for continued employment have the power to say no. Our robust economy and job market gives them the option to find a new employer that values personal choice and responsibility, and doesn’t force mandates on their employees.
— Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) July 31, 2021
Notably, Noem, at the time, faced backlash from conservatives over the tweet.
Odenbach argued, “I think the COVID-19 vaccines are good, and I am glad we have the vaccine, it is shown to be good for those who take it, but I am discouraging coercion.”
“This isn’t more big government, this is exactly the opposite,” the GOP legislator contended. “I think especially now, what you see so often are large corporations working hand in hand, with the government and especially the federal government. They become a de facto arm of the government. I believe it is our job as a representative of the people to protect the individual rights of those folks who are standing up to those entities.”
It’s time to pass the COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom of Conscience Act. People’s right to determine when & if to get this vaccine must be protected. Should not have to choose to give up a career or college because of it! pic.twitter.com/68Yxh54oC9
— Scott Odenbach (@ScottOdenbach) August 18, 2021
“Odenbach and Hansen argue that the bill should be debated in a special session as soon as possible, given that a number of vaccine mandates will go into effect prior to the regularly schedule [sic] legislative session next January, and the special session scheduled for November 8th,” KOTA TV reported. “To call a special session, 2/3rds of both chambers of the legislature would have to agree, or the Governor could call legislators back for one on her own. Both scenarios are highly unlikely.”
“I am not planning to bring forth anything other than my executive order at this time,” Noem said. “I will continue to evaluate the situation though, I do have my general counsel and others looking at my authorities and what latitude I have. I know people are concerned about the government or businesses coming in and mandating vaccines to them. I have long stood on the belief that people should not be told what to do. It is a personal choice and a personal responsibility.”
UDPATE: Following publication, Noem published the following Instagram video further elaborating on her position against the proposed GOP legislation.
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Related: Kristi Noem Faces Backlash From Conservatives Over Tweet About Employer Vaccine Mandates