The South Dakota state legislature on March 29 will consider a “style and form” veto from Gov. Kristi Noem of House Bill 1217, which would prevent transgender girls from participating in school sports.
Noem’s changes aim to drop college athletes from those potentially impacted by the bill. She also seeks to drop a requirement that a student’s biological sex is verified every school year. These proposed changes come after the bill was passed by the House, killed in the Senate and then resurrected and eventually passed in the Senate.
Republicans Sen. Maggie Sutton and Rep. Rhonda Milstead were House Bill 1217’s prime sponsors in their respective chambers. Neither is happy with the governor’s style and form veto.
“I think just common sense is going to tell all of us that it’s not style and form,” Milstead said. “Style and form, if we go back to our English classes on what style and form is, has nothing to do with substance, which is what she did. She rewrote the bill, and that’s not her job.”
“In my response to her style and form is that she gutted the bill,” Sutton said. “She took out a lot of the legality which leaves it almost meaningless. And to take out the collegiate part of the bill is a big concern of mine.”
Republican Speaker of the House Spencer Gosch questions if the style and form veto was appropriately utilized.
“I do have some very grave concerns on constitutionality here, and my oath of office requires me to uphold what the Constitution says,” Gosch said.
Democrats Rep. Erin Healy and Sen. Troy Heinert both opposed House Bill 1217 in their chambers; it passed the House 50 to 17 and the Senate 20 to 15.
“I don’t believe the style and form veto is really appropriate for this type of legislation,” Healy said. “I think if she really thought that this bill raised serious concerns that we should just be vetoing it all together.”
“It’s obviously not a style and form veto,” Heinert said. “It completely changes the bill, so though I disagreed with 1217, it’s still not a style and form veto.”
Healy says the topic at hand is not an actual issue.
“I think that this is a manufactured problem that we’ve created, that certain legislators have created,” Healy said. “And we don’t have many trans people in our state who are playing sports. We have zero right now playing any high school sports.”
KELOLAND News reached out to the governor’s office via email, asking how the proposed changes of HB 1217 are of style and form. As of 10:09 CT on Monday night, we had not yet received a response.