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HB 1097: Pischke, Jensen Float New Anti-Vaccine Bill

The coronavirus pandemic and the hard 2020 primary defeat of anti-vaccine House Majority Leader Lee Qualm haven’t taught the anti-vaxxers in the Legislature anything.

Even as the human and economic health of the United States and the globe depend on the speedy and universal distribution of new vaccines to combat covid-19, Republican Representatives Tom Pischke and Phil Jensen  propose House Bill 1097, which would expand eligibility for exemptions from school immunization requirements. Right now, postesecondary students and parents of preschool and K-12 children must profess their adherence to a religious doctrine whose teachings are opposed to immunizations. That religious exemption already straddles the line between First Amendment freedom and every resident’s obligation to support the health of the community, an obligation that derives at least as much from most religious doctrines as from our secular social contract. House Bill 1097 would expand the exemption to allow anti-vaxxers to claim “a sincerely held religious or philosophical belief.”

So knuckleheads who think QAnon is real could say they really think coronavirus shots are part of the plot they fantasize is being hatched by devil-worshipping pedophiles, and there goes our herd immunity against coronavirus and our chance of getting the schools and hospitals and nursing homes and the whole economy back to somewhat normal activity. Thanks, Tom and Phil, for your helpful suggestion.

Some people never learn… and that is the fundamental failing of the South Dakota Republican Party: a rejection of learning and truth in favor of nutty conspiracy theories and selfishness. I hope Senator Lee Schoenbeck will repeat his 2020 party-cleanup effort, rally some candidates and cash to teach Pischke and Jensen a lesson, and oust these anti-vaxxers from the House in the 2022 primary.


  1. Donald Pay 2021-01-27 13:17

    Cory, you have more faith in Schoenbeck than I do. He’s never impressed me as a guy who is anything but a tool for the elite, and, like it or not, the elite have allied themselves with the knuckledraggers in the Republican Party. It’s more likely that the knuckledraggers will kick the elite out, and then Schoenbeck may have to slink away along with them. He’s never struck me as someone who as a lick of integrity, so he may find himself kissing the behinds of the knuckledraggers, just so he can pretend he’s some sort of big shot.

    Now as to HB 1097, let’s just say bills like this get introduced about every other year. Some clunkhead reads some conspiracy theory and develops a philosophy that vaccinations turn you into zombies. Since they belong to a sane religion, or none at all, they need a law to exempt their fried brain cells from having to think rationally. They corral a couple of the dippier legislators to introduce a hopeless bill, hopeless that is with normal legislators. South Dakota has precious few of those right now.

    I have to say HB 1097 treats atheists and agnostics a bit fairer than current legislation. They have as much right to be knuckledraggers as the insaner than most overgodders. But, I say, why encourage dipsh*tery. I think people who refuse vaccinations for other than medical reasons should be dropped down the deepest nuclear waste borehole. But since we stopped that, at least for a time, maybe they can be dump in some nonmeandered water body.

  2. Dicta 2021-01-27 14:33

    Kinda makes me want to make a kid just so I can say to schools, “Naw, see, we’re really into Kierkegaard.”


  3. Darrell Solberg 2021-01-27 14:38

    What is in the water that some of these Republicans are drinking? Amazing, you can’t cure stupid!!!

  4. buckobear 2021-01-27 15:39

    The republicans really are inventing a time machine to take us into the 20th century.

  5. John 2021-01-27 16:40

    Ah, the annual Taliban anti-vax bill. The rule ought be: no-vax, no school, no high school extra curricular activities.
    These self-selecting lepers ought be quarantined like we used to do on Molokai.

  6. Timothy Callahan 2021-01-27 16:41

    It’s almost impossible to believe that George McGovern, Tom Daschle, and James Abourezk ever represented this state in national politics, it has regressed so far back into the Dark Ages! Really, only 11 Democrats in a 105 member legislature. Absolutely appalling, and a whacko governor to oversee it all!

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-01-27 16:59

    There is no Republican party anymore. It’s the party of imbeciles. It keeps getting better and better, they had to let them in to maintain power and now where are they? From the tea party to the Qs, with a dash of anti vaxxers thrown in, what a broth they make. They are such proud boys aren’t they?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-27 17:54

    Donald, Schoenbeck funded an effort to remove certain Republicans during the 2020 primary. Maybe he did so just to solidify his power. Whatever his motives, Schoenbeck is one of the few players who has demonstrated a willingness and ability to put his money toward cleaning house in his party. I don’t know how clean the party will be stacked with Schoenbeckians, but I welcome any effort Schoenbeck may make to clear out Pischke and Jensen.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-27 17:58

    Donald does rightly point out the merits of making exemptions available to agnostics and atheists—why should deists get special treatment under the law?

    That said, I’d go the other way: remove any objection based on subjective beliefs. If you want to endanger public health, you better have a medical reason that will keep you from going out a lot and posing a danger to others anyway. First Amendment protection ends when the actions one takes in the name of one’s religion or philosophy endangers others.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-27 17:59

    Dicta, you get me thinking: we should require Pischke to list the philosophers he has in mind when he proposes an exemption for philosophy.

    Indeed, everybody, take that challenge: identify a philosopher whose principles lead to the logical conclusion that we should avoid vaccines.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-27 18:04

    John, I say, budget first. Move the beginning of Session to February 1. Spend four weeks working on Appropriations. Once the budget is passed, open bill submission… but run Sessions on weekends. Taking up their weekends will strongly disincline legislators to see their weekends wasted with debates over posturing bills like HB 1097.

  12. grudznick 2021-01-27 18:19

    So Mr. H, if the budget is locked under glass first, does that mean policy ideas from the libbies that would cost money are DOA? You might have a good idea here. There would be a lot of “Mr. Nesiba, there is no money for your libbie idea in the budget. Your law bill is dead.” The sessions would be shorter than ever.

  13. RST Tribal Member at 57572 2021-01-27 18:31

    The woes along with the tribulations of the one party governance; South Dakota republicans do take their 4 faces seriously (chambers, home, hobby lobby events, work). The inbreeding, closed mindsets and rank quarters does bubble to the surface from January to March annually. Without debate or balance the race to craziness is like earth worms dig around just below the soils’ surface searching for the sweet spot then ending up in a bird’s beak or on a fishhook. The South Dakota Republican Party seems to have evolved into an “if its working let’s break it” bunch of earth worms. March cannot come soon enough nor November 2022.

  14. Caroline 2021-01-27 19:39

    25 years ago I was involved in a battle over vaccination with a family of anti- vaccination people. They were not Republicans, but Catholic Democrat chiropractors. They claimed religion exemption for their children. At the time I had a friend in the SD DOH whom I called for information. He said, “ I am a Catholic and the church is ok with vaccination. Being a chiropractor is not a religion, although some think it is.” He went on to say that the state DOH only investigates if the school district reports an issue.
    Apparently, our school did not question the religious exemption. That was a long time ago, but I gather things have not changed much.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-27 22:14

    Or, no bills can be proposed until legislators have all their shots.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-27 22:18

    Set the budget first, Grudz. Make clear the total amount available. Then allow revisions, just as we do at the beginning of each Session to the current budget to satisfy the Governor’s whims.

    I’d rather see the budget take up the first half of Session and force the Pischkes and Jensens to struggle to squeeze their nutty ideas into the remaining days than let them suck up all the press oxygen with their culture-war posing in the first several weeks, only to see the budget rushed under the wire with little open scrutiny and debate outside of Approps in the last days.

    Besides, if setting the budget first might constrict Senator Nesiba’s freedom to dream up great schemes for better government, it would also severely restrict the radical right’s and crony establishment’s ability to sneak in special bills to suit their agendae.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-27 22:19

    Caroline, would it be safe to assume most school districts aren’t going to push back against their relatively wealthy and influential constituents?

  18. Caroline 2021-01-27 22:42

    Absolutely!! Also, in small towns administrators and parents may be golf buddies, or childhood best friends, or cousins, or…….

  19. mike from iowa 2021-01-28 12:20

    anti-transgender bill 1076 passed into law?

  20. robin friday 2021-01-28 16:16

    1076 is an anti-transgender bill, once against brought to the floor of the SD legislature by religious fanaticism, ALEC, and extremist right-wing interests. It comes under the heading of Civil Rights (where is ACLU?), the First Amendment (freedom from religion) and extermination of hate. Time to kick hate and discrimination to the curb–even in South Dakota. Time to end the nurturing of hate year after year after year. SDans may ask themselves why they elect these types to the legislature.

  21. robin friday 2021-01-28 16:18

    thanks for the link, MFI.

  22. Mark Anderson 2021-01-28 16:26

    Of course Nesiba’s idea of having South Dakota expand medicaid that is paid for mostly be the feds would be too much Gruds. You can’t replace those bake sales in South Dakota, yum, yum.

  23. jerry 2021-01-28 18:28

    Meanwhile, another 1.3 million out of work, economy in the crapper, and republicans can only hurt children.

  24. robin friday 2021-01-28 19:37

    Glad to hear it, mfi. Shame we have to spend so much time and effort (and disgust) on bills like this EVERY FREAKING YEAR, bills simply designed to hurt someone and help no one, when so many other things need attention and so many people need help. Seems even the winger can’t defend this one.

  25. mike from iowa 2021-01-30 08:37

    drumpf/noem body count for the record…

    Last updated: January 30, 2021, 14:21 GMT
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    3600 bodies contributed to count Friday January 29th.

  26. mike from iowa 2021-01-31 08:27

    Last updated: January 31, 2021, 14:20 GMT
    United States
    Coronavirus Cases:

    2641 bodies of a Saturday counted.

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