PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Representative Rhonda Milstead didn’t want South Dakota women and girls to be at risk of possibly facing competition from transgender athletes for another year.
That’s why the Republican lawmaker from Hartford said she asked the House of Representatives on Tuesday to table the amendment she had offered a few days before for the governor’s ‘act to protect fairness in women’s sports.’
The House went on to give final legislative approval 50-17 that afternoon. On Thursday afternoon, Governor Kristi Noem signed her own bill into law.
Turn the calendar back 11 months. Last March, Noem vetoed a somewhat similar bill from Milstead. It was the only veto the governor issued during the 2021 legislative session. In the end, Milstead’s bill died.
This year, Milstead introduced another bill on sports fairness. Despite being one of the first bills in the House, it was never assigned to a House committee.
Meanwhile the governor’s bill steamed through the Senate. The governor also started running national TV ads promoting it.
When Noem’s bill arrived at the House, Milstead had an amendment ready. She wanted to add the words “and damages” at several spots. Representative Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, who’s challenging Noem for the Republican nomination, then made a procedural motion to hold the bill over for two days.
But when the House resumed debate Tuesday, Milstead delivered another surprise. She asked the House to table her pending amendment.
The House doesn’t allow comment on a tabling motion. In fact, there was no further comment at all. So KELOLAND News followed up and asked Milstead afterward why she changed course.
Milstead’s answer was that she couldn’t find a path to get the amended bill back through the Senate.
“(A)nd if the amended version did, it risked the governor not signing again as she had already rejected the amendment,” Milstead said in an email.
For Milstead, there was a higher goal.
“The most important action yesterday,” she said, “was for the Legislature to say to South Dakota women and girls that you matter to us just as they had the courage to do a year ago.”