SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) – South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order Wednesday allowing federally-contracted state employees to make religious or medical exemptions from the federal vaccine mandate.
State employees who wish to receive a medical exemption need a written statement from a physician. For a religious exemption, applicants must fill out a form that will be made available by the state Bureau of Human Resources.
“Our state has many contracts with the federal government, and President Biden is attempting to use those contracts to force state employees to be vaccinated against their will,” says Gov. Noem. “My executive order will protect their rights to medical and religious exemptions under any federal vaccine mandates.”
Gov. Noem says she is working with South Dakota lawmakers to make these exemptions permanent and to extend them to employees of private businesses.
Republican state lawmakers have already called for a special session to consider legislation that would make it illegal to deny a religious or medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine by any “entity” operating in the state, such as businesses or schools.
The executive order doesn’t apply to South Dakota National Guard service members who must meet federal readiness responsibilities for deployment.