Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem again passed on signing a bill to bar biological males from competing as transgender females in women’s sports, instead issuing executive orders in the bill’s place.
The State Legislature voted to reject Noem’s “style and form” veto on Monday, but the House could not muster the two-thirds majority necessary to enact the bill without the governor’s signature. Noem declined to sign the legislation without her proposed changes, instead issuing two executive orders to block biological males from participating in women’s sports.
“Only girls should play girls’ sports. Given the legislature’s failure to accept my proposed revisions to HB 1217, I am immediately signing two executive orders to address this issue: one to protect fairness in K-12 athletics, and another to do so in college athletics,” Noem tweeted after the legislature sent H.B. 1217, dubbed the Fairness in Women’s Sports act, back to her desk.
“Additionally, I will be working with legislative leaders to schedule a special legislative session in late May or early June,” Noem added. “The special session will address this important issue, as well others (medicinal marijuana and the latest federal spending package.)”
Additionally, I will be working with legislative leaders to schedule a special legislative session in late May or early June. The special session will address this important issue, as well others (medicinal marijuana and the latest federal spending package.) (2/3)
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) March 29, 2021
Noem’s first order states that “only females, based on their biological sex … shall participate in any girls’ or women’s athletic event sanctioned by a public school” or school district. It says the South Dakota Department of Education “shall establish a policy consistent” with the order.
The policy of the second order is similar to the first but for college athletes. It differs in its directive, however, stating that the Board of Regents “should take any and all steps necessary within the law of the state to legally implement policies consistent” with the order.
Noem insists that her refusal to sign the bill does not amount to a veto. State lawmakers argue otherwise and assert she unconstitutionally used the “style and form” veto to remand the bill back to the legislature with significant changes that changed the meaning of the legislation, according to the Argus Leader.
“Her letter back to the House said ‘I have not vetoed the bill’ but her actions said otherwise,” GOP House Speaker Spencer Gosch said on Monday.
Noem’s refusal to sign the Fairness in Women’s Sports act has undermined her reputation as a stalwart conservative governor earned during the coronavirus pandemic. The governor has defended herself against heavy criticism from the right by claiming that the bill would have invited legal challenges that South Dakota would have lost, and Noem claimed that the NCAA and other interest groups would have taken revenge on her state by pulling engagement and opportunities.
On Wednesday, Noem spokesman Ian Fury hit back at critics asserting that the governor was a victim of “cancel culture” from conservatives.
“Governor Noem is very used to fighting off criticism from the left,” Noem spokesman Ian Fury said in an email. “After all, in the past year, she was the only governor in the entire nation to never order a single business or church in her state to close. The left bullied her incessantly, but she didn’t cave.”
“But if any number of conservative pundits are to be believed, that same governor who refused to cave is now caving to the NCAA and Amazon on the issue of fairness in women’s sports,” Fury continued. “What? Apparently, uninformed cancel culture is fine when the right is eating their own.”