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Noem Needs Special Session to Get Out of Mess She Made with Veto of Transgender-Hate Bill

When coronavirus broke out last March, Governor Kristi Noem didn’t call a Special Session until October; even then, she didn’t ask for any new legislation, only a resolutional rubber stamp on her existing plan to rain coronavirus dollars on her kin, cronies, and non-coronavirus budget items.

But now that she realizes she can’t use a style-and-form veto to make substantive, boycott-saving changes to the transgender-hate bill on her desk, she’s willing to call a Special Session to rewrite House Bill 1217 and ban transgender girls from K-12 school sports:

Gov. Kristi Noem, tweet, 2021.03.20.
Gov. Kristi Noem, tweet, 2021.03.20.

Let’s be clear: transgender athletes pose no threat to the Republic warranting a Special Session. Noem’s just reaching for more screen time (or is it scream time?) to solve a problem that does not exist:

There are currently no transgender girls competing in girls’ high school sports, according to the South Dakota High School Activities Association, which has a policy for evaluating applications from transgender athletes on a case-by-case basis. The association reported that only one transgender girl has ever competed in girls’ sports in the state. She has since graduated and did not disrupt the competitive fairness of other girls, according to the association [Stephen Groves, “South Dakota Gov Pushes Changes to Transgender Sports Ban,” AP, 2021.03.19].

To make for a glossier press splash, Noem is headed for the Hilton in Sioux Falls today to hold a press conference with second-tier sports stars who don’t want to lose an entire day of their lives flying in and out of Pierre:

Governor Kristi Noem holds a media availability Monday at 10:30 a.m. to announce a new initiative to what she says will defend fairness in women’s sports.

The announcement will include participation from 4-time LPGA Player of the Year Nancy Lopez, former NFL football player Jack Brewer, and other athletes.

…The news conference will be held at Hilton Garden at 201 East 8th Street in Sioux Falls [Todd Epp, “Gov. Noem to Hold News Conference on Transgender Sports Bill,” KELO Radio, 2021.03.22].

It was Noem’s drive for headlines and retweets that got her into this mess. Right after the Senate’s surprise smokeout-passage of HB 1217, Noem followed Corey Lewandowski’s advice to sow division for attention and leapt onto Twitter to snark on progressive values and say that she was “excited to sign this bill very soon.” But now lacking the courage to put our money where her right-wing rage-mouth is (the Sioux Falls Sports Authority says the city could lose $7.5 million and up to 100 full- and part-time jobs if the NCAA pulls its tournaments), Noem has to rush to the city HB 1217 would screw and put on a show to appease the Chamber and the Taliban.

Noem also needs to soothe the hackles of her frazzled friends under the Dome, who recognize that, since HB 1217 only won 20 votes in the Senate, it won’t get the 24 votes necessary to either override the veto or suspend the rules on Veto Day next Monday and pass Noem’s substantial override. The Republican sponsor of HB 1217 and the Republican Speaker of the House both agree with my assessment that Noem is abusing her Constitutional power by using the style-and-form veto to rewrite the transgender-hate bill into a weak measure that falls short of what supporters want:

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Rhonda Milstead, said Noem was overstepping her powers in using the style and form veto to make broad changes to the bill. Such vetoes are usually used to clean up technical language, but Noem’s proposal strikes two sections entirely and changes the reach of the bill.

“She has literally gutted the bill and rewritten the bill,” Milstead said [Groves, 2021.03.19].


House Speaker Spencer Gosch says Governor Kristi Noem went too far with her style-and-form veto. He is a co-sponsor of the legislation.

“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 about Noem.

Gosch continued, “The legal definition of style and form clearly states that it has to be ‘distinguished from substance’, and the proposed changes clearly alter the overall substance of House Bill 1217” [Bob Mercer, “House Speaker Challenges Appropriateness of Governor’s ‘Style-and-Form’ Veto on Sports Ban,” KELO-TV, 2021.03.20].

Dennis Daugaard never got himself into such a mess over transgender-hate bills, because he didn’t give a darn about national attention or nasty tweets. He just let the conservatives blow off their steam, listened to pragmatic legal advice, and vetoed such harmful bills without trying to turn them into press-conference opportunities. But not Kristi Noem: she has an angry base that pinned years of frustrated hopes on her ascent, and she has a national audience now who want more red meat and red dress. Her craving for attention has led her into a political mess she could have avoided. She promised to sign the the bill, then didn’t sign the bill. She said it was a style-and-form veto, now tells us she wants a substantive change. Who knows what waffles she’ll serve today at the Hilton?

There is no great problem with transgender participation in South Dakota school sports. The real problem is Noem’s attention-addled mishandling of a bill she should have vetoed (or better yet, quietly lobbied three Senators on the weekend before the vote instead of flying to Mar-a-Lago again). Neither problem warrants a Special Session.


  1. Richard Schriever 2021-03-22 07:12

    Demonstration of why, after spending some time talking with her a couple years ago, my long time strong Republican brother-in-law decided he could not vote for her. “She’s dumb.”

  2. o 2021-03-22 08:19

    How about Gov. Nome lend her voice to the REAL issue to protect women’s sports and speak to create equity in access and environment for women in sports (and beyond). Maybe she could bring in members the Women’s US Soccer team to speak to the issue of gender pay equality.

    OR maybe see beyond those that look like her, and seek equality for all the SD folks who don’t look like her and don’t get the advantages she enjoys?

  3. Nix 2021-03-22 08:58

    Evidently, even The Dope Queen of Delusion flashes in and out of reality.
    It doesn’t happen very often or often enough.
    It must scare the crap out of her because
    It doesn’t take very long for her eyes to gloss over again.
    Watch her eyes.
    I think that she may be an automaton.

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-03-22 19:08

    What can I say is she still excited? Or has the mood changed?

  5. grudznick 2021-03-22 19:40

    Mr. Anderson, I do not speak from firsthand knowledge but observations from grudznick’s chair indicate the atmosphere is more dampened.

    I, for one, hope this is being done just to poke a few sticks in some of those who are insaner than most.

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