The South Dakota House has voted to send a bill that would have effectively banned transgender female athletes from competing in women’s sports back to Gov. Kristi Noem for signature, rejecting her changes to the bill she made on March 19th. Noem initially vetoed the original bill, demanding “style and form” adjustments, however, the House refuses to budge, sending the bill to Noem’s desk to either be signed or vetoed in a 67-2 decision.
House Bill 1217, entitled the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, would have prevented biological males from competing in women’s sports from the collegiate level down. After passed by both chambers, Noem sent the bill back, asking for “style and form” changes. These changes included removals of protections on the collegiate level following pressure from the NCAA, who threatened to pull tournaments from the state, which critics alleged gutted the bill.
“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 a letter to state lawmakers after vetoing the bill. “I am also concerned that the approach House Bill 1217 takes is unrealistic in the context of collegiate athletics.”
On March 29th, her proposed changes to the bill fell flat in the House, rejected in a 67–2 vote.
Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles nonprofit, said in a statement that the proposed changes from Noem would have “fundamentally subverted the entire bill,” adding that Noem was “the only Republican governor to date to refuse to sign legislation protecting girls’ sport when given the opportunity.”
After considerable outrage at her failure to protect the integrity of women’s sports when offered the change, Noem spokesman Ian Fury shot back claiming Noem to be a victim of “cancel culture.”
“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.”
As an early frontrunner for the 2024 Presidential race, Noem’s favorability amongst conservatives has taken a hit with her sudden timidness to address a hot button issue on the right. Clashing with even Fox News’s Tucker Carlson on the bill, Noem set herself back if she intends to become the 2024 Republican nominee.