South Dakota’s anti-trans student-athlete bill is dead

The flaming runaway train that has been South Dakota Republicans’ effort to enact a ban on transgender student-athletes finally flew off the tracks today.

Changes proposed by Republican Gov. Kirsti Noem to HB1217, aka the Act to Promote Continued Fairness in Women’s Sports, were soundly defeated Monday by the Republican-controlled State House of Representatives, on what is colloquially known as “Veto Day.” The Grand Forks Herald reported the final tally was 67-2, with all but two Democrats crossing party lines to stand with the Republicans against the embattled governor. The bill is now dead.

One week ago today, Noem put all her eggs into the basket she called “Defend Title IX Now.” The governor who has been absolutely hammered by conservatives for refusing to sign HB1217, described it as a “coalition of legislators, leaders and athletes,” who will apply pressure in a “fill the jails”-style action to force the NCAA into a corner. The association would be forced to sue or sanction a number of schools nationwide, in order to uphold its trans-affirming policies in those states. “Once we have a coalition big enough to where the NCAA cannot possibly punish us all, then we can guarantee fairness at the collegiate level,” she said.

Nah, said the State House of Representatives.

In a style befitting her party affiliation, Noem is continuing to refuse to call her rejection of HB1217 a veto, since she used a rarely employed “Style and Form” legislative tool to edit the bill, removing portions that applied to collegiate women athletes. She claimed she did so to circumvent an anticipated lawsuit like the one that has bottled-up Idaho’s 2020 trans ban.

Now that State House Republicans have called Noem’s bluff, she has once again officially vetoed the bill, even though she won’t call it that. Today, House lawmakers did not obtain the two-thirds majority needed to pass the bill over her objections.

Gov. Noem, who was also embroiled this weekend in a Twitter war with rapper Lil Nas X over his controversial new sneakers— btw, she lost — is expected to call a special session to consider a new trans ban bill that would include the changes she has proposed from the get go.

We’ll keep you posted.


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