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Gov. Kristi Noem addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 27 in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said she will not sign a bill banning transgender students from playing women's sports unless revisions are made to the legislation that change how it would affect cisgender students and leave it less vulnerable to a potential NCAA lawsuit.

Why it matters: The bill is part of a record-setting boom in anti-trans legislation introduced by Republican state lawmakers this year. LGBTQ advocates say the push is an unprecedented inflection point for trans rights in the country.

Catch up quick: Noem listed two core issues with the current version of the state's bill in a Friday Twitter thread.

  1. Vague language that could apply to cisgender students taking performance-enhancing drugs, instead of only trans student athletes who are taking hormones to transition.
  2. The bill would force "an unworkable administrative burden on schools" made to annually verify all student athletes' sex.

Her suggested changes would limit the bill's effects to middle schools and high schools instead of colleges, as part of an effort to avoid possible litigation from the NCAA.

What they're saying: "We've been trying to figure out how to defend women's sports effectively ... and we have to do that in a way that we can actually win," Noem said at a press briefing on Monday, noting that she has discussed the bill with legal counsel since November.

  • "These legal scholars think that South Dakota's chances of winning a lawsuit against the NCAA are very low," she said.
  • "Once we have enough states on board, a coalition brought big enough where the NCAA cannot possibly punish us all, then we can guarantee fairness at the collegiate level," she said.
  • Noem denied on Monday that the bill or the coalition was about transgender students.
  • The NCAA did not respond to a request for comment.

The other side: The bill “has never been about leveling the playing field for student athletes. It’s been obvious from the beginning that this discriminatory legislation is about creating problems that don’t exist and, in the process, harming some of the most vulnerable people in our state," said Jett Jonelis, ACLU's South Dakota advocacy manager.

  • "We already knew the bill was discriminatory on its face, and Noem only emphasized that further," Gillian Branstetter, a spokesperson for the National Women's Law Center, said.

The big picture: South Dakota is still on track to be one of the next states to pass one of over 40 bills to exclude trans youth from sports that align with their gender identity, after Mississippi, which was the first.

  • Per the AP, "There are currently no transgender girls competing in girls’ high school sports, according to the South Dakota High School Activities Association."

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

Death toll mounts as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.

The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

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