A bill designed to prevent biological men from competing in biological women’s sports was sent back to the South Dakota legislature for changes by Gov. Kristi Noem (R).
After the measure was reviewed for nearly ten days, Noem took issue with “style and form” within the bill, stating she will sign if lawmakers agree to the changes.
House Bill 1217, titled “promote continued fairness in women’s sports,” had passed the South Dakota Senate on March 8.
Noem’s critics perceive her rejection of the bill in its current state as backtracking in an attempt to appease outside entities. President of the American Principles Project Foundation, Terry Schilling, implied that Noem faces pressure from the state Chamber of Commerce, social media post “If you can’t stand up to the chamber of commerce, how the hell will you stand up to China”:
Confirmed by South Dakota Chamber of Commerce President David Owen, business groups pressured the governor about the bill. Boycotts were threatened if the bill should become law. “Employers view the workforce as a place of inclusion,” Owen told the outlet. “They’ve made it clear to us they won’t support groups that help pass laws that blindly discriminate in certain areas.”
Noem said in a letter Friday, after consulting with legal experts, she had “become concerned that this bill’s vague and overly broad language could have significant unintended consequences.”
Noem argued the bill would cause collegiate athletics in her state to suffer because the “national governing bodies” — most notably the National Collegiate Athletic Association — would require compliance with their organizations’ policies that conflict with those of House Bill 1217. “South Dakota has shown that our student-athletes can compete with anyone in the country,” Noem wrote, “but competing on the national stage means compliance with the national governing bodies that oversee collegiate athletics.”
“While I certainly do not always agree with the actions these sanctioning bodies take, I understand that collegiate athletics requires such a system – a fifty-state patchwork is not workable,” she added.
Noem also said the current bill is worded so that students could be sued for using performance-enhancing drugs, including anabolic steroids, for reasons that extend beyond the bill’s intended scope. The annual confirmation and ongoing monitoring for accuracy of students’ age, sex, and use of performance-enhancing drugs places an “unworkable administrative burden on schools.”
She concluded, “Overall, these style and form clarifications protect women sports while also showing empathy for youths struggling with what they understand to be their gender identity.”
Noem said she supports the bill and intends to sign it once the requested changes are made.