Recapping Noem’s State of the State speech: Governor addresses abortion, history education, telehealth, broadband

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The 2021 South Dakota legislative session started on Tuesday, when Gov. Kristi Noem gave her annual State of the State address. Noem praised the state she leads and shared where her executive focus is.

“I am asking that South Dakota and its legislature will pass a law that bans the abortion of a preborn child just because that child is diagnosed with Down syndrome,” Noem said.

She also highlighted the extension of broadband internet access to the whole state.

“There are still 135,000 South Dakotans without high-speed broadband access that we need to meet those needs in the 21st century,” Noem said. “A state investment, coupled with industry funding and federal grants, is enough to get the job done.”

The governor also brought up technology’s role in health care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Another tool that we greatly expanded access to is telehealth,” Noem said. “So since March, people have used tech services like these more than 70,000 times in South Dakota’s Medicaid program alone. This year, I’m going to ask you to support legislation to make these flexibilities permanent. In 2021, we should build on telehealth advancements.”

The governor outlined a vision for how U.S. and South Dakota history might be taught.

“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,” Noem said.

Following the State of the State, KELOLAND News caught up with lawmakers to see what they think.

“She really did use a speech to try to bring South Dakotans together,” said Democratic Rep. Jamie Smith, who represents District 15. “One thing that we were really happy about and have been happy about is the governor’s proposal for the needs-based scholarship and working through that and asking the legislature for that match money.”

“I thought the governor gave a very strong State of the State message, focusing on some key areas, but spent a lot of time talking about families and the importance of families,” said Republican Rep. Kent Peterson, who represents District 19. “Talking about some of the accomplishments over the last year or two in her administration.”

You can watch Governor Noem’s speech in its entirety here.

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