South Dakota’s HB1217, an “Act that promotes continued fairness in women’s sports,” failed on March 29 to the surprise of many. The bill seems to have been popular with most So. Dakotans. Even Republican Governor Kristi Noem seemed to support the bill when it was first presented by sponsor Rep. Milstead.
State House members passed the bill 50-17. And, according to a report by Keloland, “Senator Maggie Sutton was lead sponsor in the Senate, where it won approval 20-15 after supporters used a procedural maneuver known as a smoke-out to force it out of a Senate committee where it had been stopped, and then got it on the Senate debate calendar with no votes to spare.” However, as Noem read through the legislation, she felt the bill was not quite ready for prime time because of its “vague” language. Milstead disagreed, telling Keloland that Noem “violated the section of the South Dakota Constitution that outlines some of the governor’s veto power” and overreached by “trying to legislate law as the executive branch.”
Noem’s decision should come as no surprise to those who have followed her leadership style. Noem is a self-described, pragmatic, and collaborative leader who values the Constitution as written. South Dakota was the only state in the country that, in her words, “never ordered a single business or church to close.” During the pandemic, she made key decisions based on well-considered input from a trusted circle of experts and advisors. More importantly, throughout the pandemic, she consistently stated an abiding belief and faith in the ability of the people of her state to make sound decisions for themselves and their families.