Republicans in the South Dakota House of Representatives are urging Gov. Kristi Noem to accept the GOP-controlled legislature’s overwhelming decision to reject her “style and form” veto revisions and sign a bill banning biological males from participating in women’s sports.
“To take and remove sections is not appropriate for the executive branch,” the “Fairness in Women’s Sports” Act sponsor Rep. Rhonda Milstead told Rapid City Journal, explaining that the governor needs to choose to either sign or veto the bill.
Noem first rejected the bill last week after she claimed that unnamed legal experts advised her against signing it for fear of lawsuits. Instead, the governor’s office maintains that the most “strategic” way to confront the legislation is to avoid “waging a losing battle with the NCAA,” and changing the legislation to avoid applying the law to higher education, a talking point already refuted multiple times by legal experts on the record and largely rejected by GOP representatives.
“What we’re talking about is an unconstitutional use of this veto,” Rep. Taffy Howard said, noting that the governor made “substantial changes” to the bill that she believes are outside of the governor’s authority.
Another Republican representative told National Review that the legislature is “really disappointed that [Noem] is not seen fit to sign the bill to protect women in South Dakota.”
“Our governor has recently attained national recognition and national status … It’s maddening. It’s frustrating. The governor should have been involved at an earlier stage … She didn’t get involved until it was on her desk. That’s what’s really frustrating,” the representative said.
One day before the House voted to reject Noem’s revisions, encouraged by national groups and South Dakota’s Republican Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch, Rep. Fred Deutsch asked his Twitter followers to pray for the governor after she received “enough bad advice from lawyers.” He stood by his decision to back the bill despite Noem’s hesitation about it.
“The bill is sound,” Deutsch wrote. “It does exactly what the legislature intended. I pray she sees the wisdom in signing it and has the courage to do so.”
from the "King of Kings," on what is right to do. It's been scrutinzed by scores of legal experts from across SD and the nation. The bill is sound. It does exactly what the legislature intended. I pray she sees the wisdom in signing it and has the courage to do so. 2/2
— Rep. Fred Deutsch (@FredDeutsch) March 28, 2021
While there is some confusion on if HB 1217 is headed back to Noem’s desk for a final decision, Republican governors in Idaho, Mississippi, and Arkansas have passed similar legislation banning biological males from participating in female sports.