After announcing her intent to sign legislation to protect girls and women’s sports, Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem refused to sign the Fairness in Women’s Sports bill (H.B. 1217) on Friday, sending the legislation back via a “style and form” veto.
“Unfortunately, as I have studied this legislation and conferred with legal experts over the past several days, I have become concerned that this bill’s vague and overly broad language could have significant unintended consequences,” Noem said in rejecting the bill, adding, “I am also concerned that the approach House Bill 1217 takes is unrealistic in the context of collegiate athletics.”
Instead, Noem has proposed that the bill be directed toward high school and elementary sports, excluding collegiate athletics.
Republican South Dakota state Rep. Rhonda Milstead hit Noem for the about-face on the signing. “Legislators are the ones who makes the laws and the governor signs them,” she said. “She’s gutting the bill and writing a new law and that’s not her job.”
The “style and form” veto, Milstead noted, is typically used to fix typos and clerical errors, the Argus Leader reported.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) General Counsel Kristen Waggoner blasted Noem for the move, too.
“Gov. Noem had an opportunity to protect women and girls by signing the Fairness in Women’s Sports bill, but instead she pandered to the demands of special interests,” Waggoner said in a statement sent to The Daily Wire.
“In what was an abuse of her ‘style and form’ veto power, she gutted protections for collegiate athletes and took away legal recourse for girls forced to compete against biological boys. We are shocked that a governor who claims to be a firebrand conservative with a rising national profile would cave to ‘woke’ corporate ideology,” she continued.
“The governor tried to explain her betrayal with claims that her hands were tied by NCAA policy,” Waggoner said. “But there is no NCAA policy that requires schools to allow males to compete on women’s teams as Gov. Noem suggests. The governor also vetoed the part of the bill that gives girls any legal recourse against unfair policies that arise. What’s left is mere lip service for women and girls forced to compete against biological males.”
The attorney added that she hopes Noem “will reverse course and make this right by signing the bill passed overwhelmingly by the South Dakota Legislature. Anything less—including an ‘initiative’ promoted by a few athletes at a press conference—will be more empty words.”
Before Noem sent back the legislation, the Republican indicated her enthusiasm to sign H.B. 1217.
“GREAT NEWS! The South Dakota Senate just passed the Women’s Fairness in Sports bill, 20-15. It now heads to [Gov. Kristi Noem]‘s desk for signature,” American Principles posted on March 8, which is International Women’s Day.
Noem responded: “In South Dakota, we’re celebrating #InternationalWomensDay by defending women’s sports! I’m excited to sign this bill very soon.”
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) March 8, 2021