Gov. Kristi Noem will have former professional athletes at her side Monday when she defends her push to block parts of legislation banning transgender athletes from competing against the opposite sex in South Dakota.
Since announcing Friday she wouldn't sign House Bill 1217, the governor has faced heavy backlash from supporters of the bill, including high-profile conservatives who say it's about ensuring fairness in women's sports, and the LGBTQ community and its allies, who say Noem's desire to keep the ban from applying to collegiate sports isn't good enough.
Still, Noem has repeatedly said in recent days via social media that, "Boys should play boys’ sports, and girls should play girls’ sports" and Monday she'll make her case to the media why she thinks the bill needs work before she can sign it and what she plans to do to make that happen.
Joining her at the morning news conference in Sioux Falls will be 4-time LPGA golfer of the year Nancy Lopez and former NFL football player and Minnesota Viking Jack Brewer. The news conference will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Noem's issuance of a formal recommendation for style and form modifications to HB 1217 not only drew criticism from its authors in the Legislature, who said the changes she wants don't align with the policy they set out to create. And beyond that, GOP leaders like House Speaker Spencer Gosch have questioned whether the governor's use of the style and form veto is legal considering she's recommending what they say are substantive changes, not minor clerical errors.
“This would be an unprecedented request by a governor in South Dakota, and I am greatly concerned as to whether the Executive Branch has the authority to make substantive changes to a bill through style and form," Gosch said over the weekend.
To avoid a potential legal battle, Noem said Saturday via social media that if lawmakers don't want to sign off on her style and form recommendations when they return to Pierre March 29 for Veto Day, an entirely new measure could be passed the same day. That would require, though, the two-thirds of lawmakers agreeing to suspend the rules of Veto Day to allow new legislation be taken up or to gavel in for a special session.
Should it get that point, Noem is ready with a new measure, telling her social media followers Sunday that she's announcing "a new initiative to defend fairness in women's sports."