The Legislature wisely rejected Governor Kristi Noem’s attempt to unconstitutionally rewrite House Bill 1217 under the thin guise of a “style-and-form veto.” The House threw out her fake veto on a vote of 2–67. Continuing to have difficulty using words correctly, Governor Noem then sent the bill back to the House, telling the House to treat HB 1217 as if she had vetoed it but insisting she was not vetoing it. The House took up this second veto but could only muster 45 votes, two shy of the 47 needed to override the Governor’s veto. (The Senate was so bored with the issue that it adjourned before the House voted.) The transgender bullying bill is thus dead… and Kristi Noem killed it.
But as she ran off to Rapid City to face the Lord’s punishment by fire, the Governor issued two executive orders to bully transgender girls. In Executive Order 2021-05, the Governor presumes to order public K-12 schools to bar transgender girls from playing girls sports teams and directs her Department of Education to establish a policy to that effect. Never mind that the Department of Education has no authority over extracurricular activities. Never mind that elected public school boards have, under SDCL 13-36, vested that authority in the South Dakota High School Activities Association. Executive Order 2021-05 is flatly illegal, and school districts will give their students a valuable civics lesson by refusing to submit to this illegal order.
In Executive Order 2021-06, Governor Noem tempers her illegal enthusiasm by saying the Board of Regents “should” implement a similar ban on transgender women on their women’s sports teams. “Should” is not an order; “should” is a cop-out, more posing from our foundering Governor. The Board of Regents should pay as much attention to this fake order as Governor Noem pays to the voters who are telling her she should spend less time in Texas and more time in Pierre doing her job.
Having failed to get her way or enough attention, Governor Noem also wrote a letter to the Legislature filled with hogwash. She repeats her assertion that her rejected veto of HB 1217 was just style and form. She says her executive orders—one not legal, the other not an order—somehow “temporarily address the problem” (and “the problem” is not made clear by its placement in the fourth paragraph).
But most importantly, Noem says she is working with Legislative leaders to call a Special Session in late May or early June. Recognizing that a Special Session just to revisit HB 1217 is ridiculous, Noem piles two more issues onto the Special Session agenda: another swing at interfering with the medical marijuana initiative the voters approved in November and possible action related to President Biden’s coronavirus relief/stimulus package:
You know, if Noem had simply stayed home and done her homework, she wouldn’t need a Special Session. She’d have caught the problems in House Bill 1217 early and gotten fixes in committee, and she’d have worked out a compromise bill with legislators and the budding commercial cannabis lobby to smooth the July 1 implementation of medical marijuana. And the stimulus? Come on—Kristi didn’t think she needed any Legislative guidance on spending last year’s coronavirus relief funds, and she surely doesn’t want the legislature to weigh in this year to stop her from spending the money illegally or writing more checks to her brothers; claiming she may need a Special Session this spring to handle the big Biden package is just cover for her lack of preparation and her trivialization of the Special Session to serve her publicity whims.
Related Political Failure: Governor Noem’s weekend shoe-tweets helped a rapper sell 666 pairs of $1,018 sneakers in less than a minute.