PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The House State Affairs Committee voted to advance Senate Bill 46 to the House floor after an hour of debate Wednesday morning.
Last Wednesday, the Senate adopted SB 46 with a 26-7 vote after a 50-minute debate. A day later on January 20, the NCAA adopted a new policy that would take a sport-by-sport approach for transgender athletes.
Motion carries with 11 ayes and 2 nays. SB 46 will move to the House floor.
Rebuttal is closed and questions are now being asked of those that gave testimony.
A lawmaker is asking Wade Pogany whether all school boards are in favor of the current transgender athlete policy by the SDHSAA. Pogany answers that representatives from every school board are invited to Pierre and resolutions are debated and voted on. The school boards voted in favor of using the current SDHSAA policy. It was an overwhelming majority, Pogany says.
A lawmaker asks, are there any medical reasons to deny transgender women from playing sports. A doctor says no, there is no merit to the claim that transgender athletes have an advantage.
Lawmaker asks what’s wrong with current SDHSAA policy. Gov. Noem’s Chief of Staff, Mark Miller, answers by saying that they believe it is better to have a law in place, not a private policy. Representative asks whether Miller has seen this policy fail.
It does not happen in South Dakota, but other states, Miller answers. “It’s sort of like terrorism.”
In rebuttal, Mark Miller, Gov. Noem’s general counsel says South Dakota is not bound to cases from other districts and circuits.
Justice Ginsburg’s ruling on the separate physical standards between male and females in Virginia is referenced by Miller. He adds that no states have lost federal funding from laws similar to SB 46.
Roger Tellinghuisen with the Human Rights Campaign says this bill will violate Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. There are cases pending right now to determine whether this violates Title IX, he says.
Tellinghuisen references a 2020 ruling from Florida that discrimination based on gender identity violates Title IX.
Breana Brings Plenty is 17-years-old and plays a variety of high school sports. Brings Plenty says she welcomes trans girls to compete, because “just like me, trans girls deserve to play sports” and be recognized for who they are.
These bills won’t make sports safer, Brings Plenty says.
Hoera Kingi is a transgender girl and says being forced to compete on boys’ teams singles transgender girls out and forces them to deny who they are.
“We need and want a South Dakota where we can thrive and where we feel like we belong.”
Diana Miller, lobbyist for the large school group, testifies to the efficacy of the SDHSAA’s transgender policy. “We pass bills that are best for the citizens of this state.”
Wade Pogany, Associate Director with the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, says that school boards say the current policy and process works. “We think it also protects us from legal harm.”
Pogany has concerns with the federal law in place and how this legislation will violate that if adopted. There’s a concern that federal funds could be lost.
Jett Jonelis with the ACLU says it is an “unconstitutional attack on transgender girls.” If passed, Jonelis says the bill would violate the Equal Protections Clause.
Opponent testimony begins with Dan Swartos with the South Dakota High School Activities Association.
“We haven’t changed our policy, because our policy is based on federal law,” Swartos says of the SDHSAA’s transgender athlete policy. Swartos says the Department of Justice agrees that transgender athletes are protected under Title IX.
To change the policy would be a violation of federal law, Swartos says.
Lobbyist Sister Lynn Marie Welbig from Aberdeen is now speaking. Science is always developing and discovering, she says. “We’re making laws about whether these persons have rights,” Sister Welbig says.
Sister Welbig cites statistics on suicide rates among transgender youth. “It’s premature to act before we know what’s going on here.”
Chris Motz, a representative with the South Dakota Catholic Conference, says he believes all human beings are worthy of love and dignity, but Title IX must be remembered. He describes Title IX as “respect for women.”
Lisa Gennaro with Concerned Women for American of South Dakota gives testimony that transgender athletes take opportunities away from born females.
Greg Brown with University of Nebraska Kearney testifies to the biological differences between boys and girls.
Males have biological advantages over females in almost all sports, Brown concludes.
Mark Sharp, with Alliance Defending Freedom, is now giving testimony on examples of transgender athletes competing with cisgender women.
“SB 46 has become more urgent than ever, especially for collegiate athletes,” Sharp said.
Sharp cites a study from inc.com that cites sports participation as a common factor among successful women in CEO positions.
Rachel Ogelsby, a senior policy advisor to Governor Noem, starts proponent testimony for Senate Bill 46. Ogelsby’s testimony is focusing on the physical differences between men and women.
Ogelsby says “fairness in women’s sports” is a personal issue to the governor. Mentioned in the testimony is Defend Title IX Now, a coalition started in spring of 2021.
The bill will provide girls to sue the school if they lose a spot on a sports team due to a transgender student being on the team.
The committee is hearing testimony on HB 1058 first. SB 46 will be heard once the committee votes.