Just in time for veto day this Monday, "a large coalition defending female athletes across the country" sent an open letter to Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) calling on her to support HB 1217, legislation that will do just that. It was sent to her desk 10 days ago by the state legislature, though Gov. Noem sent it back with "style and form" suggestions. She's stood firm thus far. Critics call this "unconstitutional" and a "misuse of power." Local news outlet Keloland reported that "S.D. Speaker Gosch says he will recommend that House colleagues reject ‘style and form’ veto from Noem."
And the "large coalition" is just that. The letter, which Townhall received from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), includes 47 signatories from national and state leaders from a variety of states, including Jim Minnery, President Alaska Family Council, and Jonathan Keller, President California Family Council.
ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner, who has publicly and fiercely advocated for the legislation and defended a similar law in Idaho in court, is also among the signatories.
For years, courageous athletes like Selina Soule & Chelsea Mitchell have been in the arena, fighting for a fair playing field. ADF and a coalition of athletes, legislators, governors, AGs from 14 states, & others have been honored to stand with them in court and legislatures. 1/2 https://t.co/l8l187v1Fl— Kristen Waggoner (@KWaggonerADF) March 22, 2021
@govkristinoem has the opportunity to be a serious champion for girls and women, and we hope she does so by signing the legislation. If Gov. Noem is concerned about litigation, as she said today, ADF would stand with her to defend H.B. 1217 if she signs this legislation. 2/2— Kristen Waggoner (@KWaggonerADF) March 22, 2021
I am grateful to @TuckerCarlson for digging deep into what’s happening with @govkristinoem in SD and the broader issue facing women and girls across this nation. I’m also thankful to @Franklin_Graham who expressed his support for these bills today on Facebook. https://t.co/MnQl855Xcg— Kristen Waggoner (@KWaggonerADF) March 25, 2021
ADF brought attention to how, with original emphasis, "The South Dakota legislature got it right with HB 1217,” states the coalition, “and your original excitement to sign it was on the mark. … We stand behind these legislators and South Dakota’s female athletes. Gutting the bill doesn’t help anyone win—it sends South Dakota and their girls and women back to the sidelines and sends the wrong signal to others across the country in the fight to save girls’ and women’s sports."
The letter to Gov. Noem opens with, "you recently announced your intent to form a 'coalition to defend Title IX.'" The letter indicates, as does a separate conversation Townhall had with Jon Schweppe, director of policy and government affairs at the American Principles Project (APP), that there already is "a coalition" that includes states that have already signed such legislation. In addition to Idaho, the governors of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee all signed such bills into law. More than two dozen states across the country are currently considering such legislation.
Terry Schilling, the president of APP, is also one of the signatories.
Schweppe, in a Sunday blog post, once more emphasizes that the coalition already exists. Referring to a press conference that Gov. Noem gave last Monday, he writes:
[Gov. Noem] argued that South Dakota couldn’t take on the NCAA on its own and needed to build a coalition prior to passing legislation. (The coalition already exists — four states have now signed legislation into law defending women’s sports.) Noem also announced a brand new “initiative” her team claims they had been planning all along: DefendTitleIXNow.com, a petition website her team created last Sunday according to WHOIS records. None of this went over very well.
As I have written before, the crucial protections Title IX provides for young women, known for availing equitable opportunities in sports, is what's truly at stake here if such legislation fails to pass.
In that same blog post, Schweppe explains what's next:
The House and Senate will convene. Gov. Noem’s “style and form” veto of House Bill 1217 will be reported to the House. The House will have the opportunity to vote on whether to accept Gov. Noem’s changes, with a simple majority needed to pass them into law. If the House accepts the changes, the Senate would need to do the same with a simple majority.
But that’s not going to happen. Based on what my organization is hearing, these “style and form” changes are going to die a very quick death in the House.
At that point, House Bill 1217 returns to Gov. Noem’s desk in its original form. She will have a decision: sign, or veto.
In closing, the letter notes, "So, we invite you, Governor Noem, to join our coalition on behalf of South Dakota’s—and the nation’s— female athletes who are counting on you to support legislation like HB 1217 as passed by the legislature."
The letter is available for viewers to read here.
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