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Noem cites ‘strained’ relationship with House Speaker while lamenting failed ‘heartbeat’ bill

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 6:05 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is once again voicing her disappointment after lawmakers refused to take action on her proposal to limit abortions in the state, specifically citing a “strained” relationship with one leading Republican lawmaker.

The House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday declined to take action on a proposal put forth by Noem that would ban any abortions after a heartbeat could be detected over concerns it might spur legal action that could threaten other anti-abortion measures in the state.

In a news conference Thursday, Noem reiterated her frustration with the committee, saying their decision to refuse to give the bill a hearing is “unprecedented.” The governor called out House Speaker Spencer Gosch (R, Glenham), who is on that committee, implying he is treating the proposal unfairly.

Gosch released a statement earlier Thursday, saying South Dakota Right to Life, and both House and Senate leadership opposed her proposal. He also said he wants to avoid personal attacks, and that “D.C. politics are not welcome in South Dakota.”

Dakota News Now Statehouse Reporter Austin Goss asked Noem about that statement, and her relationship with legislative leadership.

“I think my relationship with House and Senate leadership is good. It’s strained with the Speaker, definitely,” Noem said. “What I would say is this is the first time in years that the legislature has refused to give a hearing to a bill. It was introduced under the same protocols, same mechanisms as every other bill governors have brought. This bill and myself were differently treated than in the past.

“I know Speaker Gosch has an issue with me, and I honestly don’t know what it is,” Noem said. “I cannot think of a reason why is so offended by me and what I do.”

Noem and Gosch have also butted over the case involving Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who is facing impeachment proceedings for his role in a fatal crash in 2020. The governor has been adamant in her calls for Ranvsnborg to step down. Gosch has previously pushed back against Noem’s involvement, saying the process needs to play itself out.

In Thursday’s press conference, Noem was asked about a recent development in the impeachment investigation, where we learned Ravnsborg made inquiries to investigators while they were looking into the case. The governor did not mince words in her response.

“Honestly, when it comes to this, I’m screwed either way. No matter what I say,” Noem said. “If I have an opinion, the Speaker accuses me of meddling, and says I can’t have an opinion. If I do have an opinion, when I’ve committed to being the most transparent governor we’ve ever had, and believe the public deserves to know the truth, I don’t want to give the Speaker a reason not to do the right thing.”

Watch the full press conference below

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