South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says people want to 'be like us' during her state of the state speech

“They’re coming here because they want to be like us,” Noem said during a 60-minute state of the state speech at the Statehouse. The annual speech to the Legislative traditionally opens the two-month legislative session in Pierre. “The reason why is no secret. People want to live somewhere that respects them.”

Her speech veered from low taxes to gun policy, and included a shout-out to former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who was in attendance in Pierre Tuesday. He stood in the House chamber and received applause after Noem called him a partner in her criticism of higher education over the teaching of race in American History.

The Republican governor described her home state as a place unfettered by red tape, such as her plans to wipe away a bingo fee, and comp citizens for fees on federal gun background checks. Traditionally Democratic states, such as California and New York, had lost population during the COVID-19 pandemic, she noted.

“They locked down, closed up businesses, shut schools, mandated masks,” Noem said. “And it didn’t have to happen.”

Noem spoke only obliquely about the pandemic to a mostly unmasked audience,

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