Noem returns transgender athletics bill, proposes changes
PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem returned HB 1217, a bill that would ban transgender women and girls from participating in women’s sports leagues, to the South Dakota Legislature Friday with proposed changes.
The proposed revisions limit HB 1217 to elementary and secondary school athletics, and would also remedy what Noem calls “vague language regarding civil liability and the use of performance-enhancing drugs.”
The Governor called the bill “unrealistic” in the context of collegiate athletics, as competition on a national stage requires compliance with those governing bodies that oversee college-level athletics.
The governor also said that the bill would put an “unworkable administrative burden” on schools, as they would be required to collect verifications forms from every student athlete, every year, and monitor those disclosures.
“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 wrote in her letter.
The bill initially passed the house before seeing defeat in a senate committee. It was “smoked out” and passed through senate with a 20-15 vote before heading to the Governor’s desk for approval. She immediately expressed enthusiasm and her intent to sign the bill.
Days later in a press briefing, Noem told reporters she was “still examining the bill.”
With several states in the process of passing similar legislation, including North Dakota, nearly 500 athletes signed a letter to the NCAA Board of Governors asking them to refuse to schedule championships in states that have banned transgender participation in sports.