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Gov. Noem bans ‘vaccine passports’ in South Dakota

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South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order on Tuesday banning ‘vaccine passports’ in the Mount Rushmore State.

“Since the start of the COVID pandemic, we have provided the people of South Dakota with up-to-date science, facts, and data and then trusted them to exercise their personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones,” said Governor Kristi Noem in a Wednesday press release. “We’ve resisted government mandates, and our state is stronger for it.”

The Republican governor added, “I encourage all South Dakotans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but we are not going to mandate any such activity. And we are not going to restrict South Dakotans’ exercise of their freedoms with un-American policies like vaccine passports. In our state, ‘Under God, the people rule.’ And that is how we will operate for as long as I am governor.”

As noted in the order, South Dakota hasn’t imposed harsh COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic. In fact, the state didn’t close its economy and businesses and didn’t impose a mask mandate.

The recent announcement is consistent with the state’s rationale throughout the pandemic. In fact, Noem’s order notes that “a vaccine passport program could lead to unjustified, non-science-based restrictions on travel, speech, association and other civil rights…”

It also adds that “Vaccine passports could lead to the improper disclosure of private health information and the unjustified use of that private health information to restrict South Dakotans’ access to workplaces, schools, businesses, gatherings, hotels, gyms, restaurants, theaters, music venues, or eve weddings…”

A number of Republican governors across the country have also pushed back on ‘vaccine passports,’ including Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who issued a ban on Monday. Earlier this month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did the same by signing bans via executive orders.

South Dakota has recorded 106,677 confirmed cases of the virus and 1,953 COVID-19-related deaths, according to the state Health Department. Further, 278,000 South Dakotans have reportedly been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

You can follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer

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TN Republican introduces legislation to fight opioid shipments into U.S.

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Tennessee Republican Representative Diana Harshbarger is attempting to fight the opioid crisis and epidemic through new legislation. Introduced Friday, Harshbarger told the Daily Caller:

The Daily Caller first obtained a copy of the legislation, which addresses what Harshbarger calls a “loophole.” The legislation amends the Controlled Substances Act to specifically require registrants to investigate reports of suspicious orders of controlled substances and halt them if necessary. Under the version of the act currently in force, drug manufacturers and distributors are only required to report suspicious orders of opioids and other controlled substances to the DEA.

“Breaking the opioid epidemic’s stranglehold on our nation is one of my foremost priorities. In an effort to do so, my colleagues and I have identified a loophole that allows distributors to continue order fulfillment, even under suspicious circumstances.”

“My bill closes that loophole with the requirements and guardrails needed to ensure these addictive and potentially dangerous drugs do not fall into the wrong hands while the DEA investigates. The future of our nation depends on us solving the addiction crisis, and this is a step towards that outcome” Harshbarger continued.

The Daily Caller reports:

According to a congressional report released in September, the opioid crisis cost the U.S. $1.5 trillion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDC says 93,331 people died from overdoses in the U.S. in 2020, the highest in 50 years. Opioid-related deaths made up nearly three-quarters of the total.

Pharmaceutical companies have been blamed for contributing to the opioid epidemic. The Department of Justice is currently suing the pharmaceutical company AmerisourceBergen over allegations the company failed to report suspicious orders of opioids to federal law enforcement.

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