Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill into law Wednesday to ban six countries from doing business with South Dakota. The bill enshrines an executive order Noem signed in January.
SB 189 bars the state from contracting with "prohibited entities," or any state-owned organization from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia or Venezuela.
"My goal as governor each and every day is to keep our people safe, to keep their best interests as my number one priority, and to make sure that we are looking for ways to keep their personal data secure as well," Noem said during the bill-signing ceremony at the 114th Fighter Wing Air National Guard base in Sioux Falls.
Noem explained the six countries listed have foreign policies that could harm the United States.
"When you have a failure at the federal level like we're seeing, it's important that states exercise their rights, and that they recognize the real threats that we have and take action to protect their people," she said.
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Noem said more than 1,000 South Dakota companies had testified that they are not doing business with any of the six countries listed and the state Bureau of Information and Technology continues to vet state contracts.
Sen. Jim Stalzer, R-Sioux Falls, sponsored SB 189 in the Legislature and said he had already been working on a draft bill to prevent the state from purchasing Chinese-owned computing and networking products. When he presented the draft to the Governor's Office, they asked if he would instead sponsor the bill stemming from the executive order.
"This goes way beyond that and hopefully it will be an example for the rest of the country," Stalzer said.
SB 189 is the latest action taken by the governor to stop so-called "evil" governments from doing business in South Dakota. She blocked the popular Chinese-owned app TikTok from state-owned devices in 2022. During the 2023 Legislative session, however, she was unable to get lawmakers on board with her proposal to create a board that would oversee foreign agricultural land purchases.
Noem said Wednesday even though the foreign ag land purchase legislation failed and she would be asking lawmakers in the future to reconsider, she was doing what she could as governor "to ensure that China doesn't get a foothold here in South Dakota."
This story originally appeared in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.