PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — During the weekly news conference, Republican and Democrat leaders highlighted key differences on a bill looking to ban any future transgender girls from playing high school sports in South Dakota.

House Bill 1217, called “an act to promote continued fairness in women’s sport” passed the House 50-17 on Wednesday afternoon. 

“It passed off the floor with a pretty high margin,” Rep. Kent Peterson (R-Salem) said. “I believe the legislature spoke to say that females should compete against females and males should compete against males.” 

On the other side, Rep. Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls) said HB 1217 is an extremely frustrating bill and added he was disappointed in the number of lawmakers that supported it. 

“It wasn’t about women in sports,” Rep. Smith said. “This bill was about denying trans-girls the opportunity to participate in sports in our state.” 

Rep. Smith said if there was concern about sports being detrimental to girls in any way, Title IX compliance officers would be all over the issue. He said there was a “fear campaign” setup with HB 1217. 

When asked about potential legal challenges to HB 1217 from federal Title XI protections, Rep. Peterson said that “will need to be considered.” 

Rep. Chris Johnson (R-Rapid City) said the committee meeting on HB 1217 had more than an hour of both proponent and opponent testimony. 

“There are a lot of women, girls in South Dakota that brought this bill in objection to our policies,” Johnson said. “There was a lot of real heartfelt conviction.” 

Rep. Peterson said as a father of a daughter, he takes the transgender issue very seriously. He said the South Dakota High School Activities Association has a policy and procedure in place, but noted the bill still passed.  

HB 1217 would require student athletes to fill out a form each year, proving biological sex from a birth certificate and Rep. Smith said it puts people in a terrible situation and called it “an evasive process.” 

Sen. Troy Heinert (D-Mission) said the SDHSAA has crafted a policy regarding any transgender issues and said the SDHSAA should be allowed to do its job. 

“I don’t see how bills like this make us an inclusive state,” Sen. Heinert said. 

A transgender advocate group has scheduled seven public protests in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Eagle Butte, Pierre, Vermillion, Brookings and Watertown on Saturday to protest HB 1217 which will now be heard in the Senate.  

Impeachment, marijuana and Crossover Day addressed 

Rep. Peterson said he stands by his statement on the impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg. He said the impeachment is not about party or politics, he said elected leaders need to be held to a higher standard. Rep. Peterson said the impeachment process is being formalized and supported the 10-person committee.  

Rep. Smith said Democrats have been involved in discussions about the impeachment process, he said one Democrat will serve on the 10-person impeachment committee. 

With the possibility of overseeing an impeachment trial in the Senate, Sen. Heinert said he and all the Senators will take roles as fair jurors seriously. He said Senators will “do their duty” if an impeachment trial comes to the Senate.

Lawmakers also spoke about Crossover Day, the final day in the legislative process where all non-spending bills must clear their first chamber. A longer day is expected in the House, where 36 bills are being considered for debate before the end of the day.  

There are only eight scheduled legislative days remaining for the 2021 session.