Legislators to make another run at special session, with slightly toned back attack on employer vaccination requirements.

Reports started coming out yesterday that a few Legislators are coming back with another demand for a special session, this time with a slightly toned back attack on businesses requiring vaccination of employees against COVID, with a press release being sent out:


Today, South Dakota legislators and citizens whose jobs are threatened due to vaccine mandates announced a call for a Special Session of the legislature on November 9, or as soon as possible thereafter, to provide protections for employees.

Senators Jim Stalzer (R-Dist. 11), Al Novstrup (R-Dist. 3), and Maggie Sutton (R-Dist. 10), and Representatives Jon Hansen (R-Dist. 25), Sue Peterson (R-Dist. 13), Marli Wiese (R-Dist. 8 ), and Scott Odenbach (R-Dist. 31) are asking their fellow legislators to provide protections for South Dakota employees subject to termination. Specifically, they seek to codify religious protections and medical exemptions.

Codifying Covid-19 vaccine religious and medical exemptions would be in-line with South Dakota’s long standing exemption policy for vaccine mandates that the state places on both public and private school enrollees and consistent with the protections being passed in other states.

“When I filed for a religious exemption from a Covid-19 vaccine mandate, I was denied,” said Mikaela Pannell, a nursing student from Sioux Falls. “After being denied an exemption, I asked a lawyer and state lawmakers for help. After getting their advice, I refiled for a religious exemption a second time using guidance from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. My religious exemption was denied again. Only after even more involvement from lawyers and lawmakers was I finally granted an exemption on my third attempt. No one should have to jump through this many hoops and involve lawyers and legislators just to follow their religious convictions in America. I know from my personal experience: South Dakota needs to enact clear and robust religious and medical exemptions into law immediately.”

Clay Tanner, a System Operations Superintendent for a Madison Electric Company said, “I work in Madison, South Dakota, and I recently found out that I’ll more than likely be losing my job if I don’t comply with a federal vaccine mandate. “If I were to endure serious side effects from the Covid-19 injection, I’m on my own and my family is possibly left without me and without any support. I’m not alone in this problem, my employer employs 150 South Dakota citizens. We were once deemed essential and worked through the pandemic. Now, we are being deemed disposable if we do not take this injection. We desperately need the help of our Representatives and our Governor to do everything they can to enact strong religious and medical exemptions from government and corporate mandates.”

“We live in a free country and we should stand up against mandates that threaten the loss of livelihood for any person and family,” said Representative Marli Wiese, who represents the legislative district which includes Madison.

“You shouldn’t be handed a pink slip for not receiving a Covid-19 injection,” said House Speaker Pro Tempore Jon Hansen. “We’ve heard from countless South Dakotans asking for help from these mandates. I was recently contacted by a woman from Sioux Falls who still doesn’t know if she’ll receive a religious exemption or be fired. After submitting a comprehensive statement regarding her faith and why a religious exemption is necessary for her, her employer responded with close to a dozen personal and invasive follow-up questions about her and her religion. Governments and corporations should not be the gatekeepers of an individual’s religious views. A family’s livelihood shouldn’t depend on getting the shot, especially if their concerns are rooted in faith. We need these protections in state law right now.”

“There is a shortage of quality trained workers in just about every industry including the airline, manufacturing, trucking industry, and the medical community, and yet these industries are threatening to fire needed South Dakota employees for wanting the freedom to make the best medical decision in consultation with their family doctor,” said Senator Al Novstrup. “Firing these quality employees is bad for the fired employee, bad for the company that is losing a trained employee, and bad for those consumers that depend upon the fired employee for needed services. Who other than Washington DC and the Biden administration thinks firing trained, loyal, hard working employees is a good idea?”

“Religious protections and research-backed medical exemptions make sense for South Dakota workers,” said Senator Maggie Sutton. ‘Two-weeks to flatten the curve’ has led to ‘get this brand new shot or kiss your job goodbye.’ Plus, who knows how many boosters they’ll demand indefinitely. No one should have that level of control over your job and life. Total control, it’s not right. People should be able to get the shot if they want, but we need more protection for those that don’t want it right now.”

“The South Dakota values of liberty and personal responsibility need to be brought back into the conversation, especially as peoples’ jobs are on the line,” said Representative Scott Odenbach from Spearfish. “I’m hearing from lots of newer South Dakotans—refugees from blue state authoritarian policies—working remotely for companies based in those other states. Those companies don’t trust people to follow their faith or to follow the science and want to place mandates on our citizens. We need to empower regular South Dakotans again. When big corporations and big medical systems become complicit with big government overreach, it becomes necessary for the representatives of the people to take action to protect their liberties.”

The attached image is the text of the petition calling for Special Session, which is similar to the recent call for Special Session made in Texas and consistent with laws that are being considered and passed in other states.

Current South Dakota law does recognize compulsory vaccination exemptions for religious reasons under education statutes..

13-28-7.1. Immunizations required for admission to school or early childhood program–Exceptions–Rules.

Any child entering school or an early childhood program in this state, shall, prior to admission, be required to present to the appropriate school authorities certification from a licensed physician that the child has received or is in the processof receiving adequate immunization against poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, rubeola, rubella, mumps, tetanus, meningitis, and varicella, according to recommendations provided by the Department of Health. The Department of Health may modify or delete any of the required immunizations. As an alternative to the requirement for a physician’s certification, the child may present:

(1) Certification from a licensed physician stating the physical condition of the child would be such that immunization would endanger the child’s life or health; or

(2) A written statement signed by one parent or guardian that the child is an adherent to a religious doctrine whose teachings are opposed to such immunization.


13-53-47. Immunizations required for students entering public or private postsecondary educational institutions–Alternatives.

Any student entering a public or private postsecondary education institution in this state for the first time after July 1, 2008, shall, within forty-five days after the start of classes, present to the appropriate institution certification from a licensed physician that the student has received or is in the process of receiving the required two doses of immunization against measles, rubella, and mumps. As an alternative to the requirement for a physician’s certification, the student may present:

(1) Certification from a licensed physician stating the physical condition of the student would be such that immunization would endanger the student’s life or health;

(2) Certification from a licensed physician stating the student has experienced the natural disease against which the immunization protects;

(3) Confirmation from a laboratory of the presence of adequate immunity; or

(4) A written statement signed by the student that the student is an adherent to a religious doctrine whose teachings are opposed to such immunizations. If the student is under the age of eighteen, the written statement shall be signed by one parent or guardian.

.. so a law of this nature is not a stretch. Although, a special session for the purpose of passing such legislation seems a bit overblown.

While there is the possibility that those wanting the special session might – and that’s a big might – be able to get 2/3 of the signatures required in the House, the Senate could prove to be more daunting to obtain the consent of 2/3 of that body.  As was noted to me last night, the legislation arising from any such special session of this nature would not take effect until next January.. when legislators would be there anyway.

I have heard that in the call for the special session, Senate Leadership is putting their foot down, and has put everyone on notice that the list of those in both the House and the Senate who call for the Special Session will be released to the public before any such proclamation would be signed.

So, at least we should hopefully have a stronger enforcement of open government than the special session for impeachment is providing.

One thing that sticks in my mind in this revised call for a special session are passages in the press release seem to focus on supposed “side-effects” and “employer control,” neither of which are addressed in “religious protections and medical exemptions.”

As  at least one of the complainants whom are objecting are doing so on the basis of our shared Catholic faith, I would point out that Pope Francis has said that “morally, everyone must take the vaccine,” but South Dakota’s Catholic Bishops have expressed that.

“a Catholic may, after consideration of relevant information and moral principles, discern it to be right or wrong to receive one of the available Covid-19 vaccines. If he or she thus comes to the sure conviction in conscience that they should not receive it, we believe this is a sincere religious belief, as they are bound before God to follow their conscience.”

So, there’s a little wiggle room, but the example in the press release where the gentleman says he’ll be “losing my job if I don’t comply with a federal vaccine mandate,” mentions NOTHING about any religious objection, making it seem more like a back-door attempt to entice legislators to simply get in the middle of the employer/employee relationship.

As they attempted to do, and were strongly rebuffed in August.

So, whether it’s over actual religious objections, or just people not wanting to comply with their employer’s job requirements, we’ll see where this all goes.

9 thoughts on “Legislators to make another run at special session, with slightly toned back attack on employer vaccination requirements.”

  1. I attended the Redistricting hearings in Sioux Falls and couldn’t help but notice the lawmakers sitting next to Jon Hansen were the only ones wearing masks. Hansen is a walking petri dish of stupidity. And I see here that Jim “Oathkeeper” Stalzer has his name at the top of this press release. How do these people keep getting re-elected?

  2. I’m curious how a state law on exemptions is expected to override a federal mandate that the one gentleman refers to?

    Also, for those working in the healthcare field and already have multiple vaccination requirements, such as the flu, did you claim a religious exemption from those? If you did and received it, you have legitimate gripe if you were denied one for the COVID vaccine. If you did not previously claim an exemption, why should your employer all of a sudden give you one for this.

    I agree with, Pat, this appears to be a clever way to get at the same issue they were already told no to.

    1. There is no current mandate,

      Were fetal cells used in the flu vaccine process?

      The Covid vaccine does not prevent you from getting covid and spreading it so your post is irrelevant.

      1. fetal cell lines were not used in the flu vaccines but they were used in chickenpox, Hepatitis A, Rubella, and rabies, just to name some of them.
        None of the cells used were ever in the body of any child, they were cloned from cells donated by babies aborted decades ago.
        There is nothing morally wrong with accepting a tissue or organ from a donor who was murdered. Murder victims make excellent tissue and organ donors because they are often young and healthy prior to death. I have personally assisted in organ harvesting from a victim of a drunk driver. I personally received donor bone in a dental procedure and it never occurred to me to ask how the donor died. Many people have received corneal transplants as well, in addition to all the organ transplant patients. Has anybody ever refused a transplant because the donor met a traumatic death at the hands of another person? I don’t think so! The argument about fetal cell lines is disingenuous.

        People who just don’t want to get the vaccine are using the fetal cells argument even though they have already received other vaccines for rubella and chicken pox and would never dream of refusing rabies prophylaxis if they were bitten by a rabid animal.
        So answer the question: have you already received the MMR? The chicken pox? would you take the rabies shots if you were advised to? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, shut up. Don’t claim you suddenly became religious.

  3. Seems to me that there are a number of people trying to wrap themselves in the cloth of religious exemption for convenience only. They are more apt to believe in government conspiracy than they are a religious exemption.

    If we are to be a free state, it seems that we should allow business owners to be free to make their own decisions as well. I, for example, would not establish a mandate for my employees. However, my decision should not impact that of every other business owner. I should also be able to make other decisions for my business — can my employees bring their pet to work, or their kid, or their gun? As a conservative, you ought to believe in personal liberty for the individual, but also for the business owner no matter their political beliefs.

    1. Nailed it, anon @1:08pm. A Libertarian legislator in Wyoming put it very well when he spoke against Wyoming’s version of this bill. To paraphrase, he said while he will continue to fight the federal mandates with every fiber of his being, he refuses to be part of an arms race between the federal government and the state government to see who can mandate the hardest. A free market means freedom to craft your business the way you see fit, and freedom for employees to leave if they choose.

      Oh, and by the way, he is losing his job next month because he refuses to comply with his employer’s mandate. He stands to gain the most from a bill prohibiting his employer from making vaccinations a condition of employment, but he is standing firmly on principle.

      His name is Rep. Marshall Burt (L-Wyoming). We need more like him in office.

  4. Corporate America is dictating the covid vaccine shots to their employees, not small businesses

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