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South Dakota’s governor bans trans student-athletes with executive orders after defeat of bill

The GOP-controlled State House of Representatives failed to overturn Gov. Kristi Noem’s transgender sports veto. So she got out her pen and wrote an E.O. for what she wanted.

American Conservative Union Holds Annual Conference In Florida
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency on February 27, 2021 in Orlando, Fla.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

UPDATE: Immediately following the failure of the South Dakota House to override Gov. Kristi Noem’s veto of a transgender student-athlete ban, the governor released two executive orders which will put in place the changes she asked Republican lawmakers to make.

“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 said in a news release early Monday evening.

Here is a link to The Argus Leader for more details.

ORIGINAL STORY: 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.