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Senate turns transgender sports bill into a study

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The state Senate has voted to turn a bill, requiring a high school student to compete in sporting events based on the gender of the student’s birth, into a study.

That potentially sets up a conference committee on the measure.

The "transgender" bill is HB 1298. It had earlier passed in the House. It originally dealt with high school and college athletes. A Senate committee had amended it so it would only deal with high school athletes.

The amendment to turn the bill into a study was offered by Sen. Kristin Roers (R-Fargo).

"What's the rush? Why do we need to pass this law today?," Roers said. "Why can't we take the time to say, what would the impacts be, whether they be financial, whether they be on the competitive ability of the females?"

Other opponents said the bill could lead to the state losing out on regional and national tournaments, meaning a loss of potential revenue.

One of the bill's Senate sponsors -- Sen. Janne Myrdal (R-Edinburg) -- urged colleagues to reject the study amendment, and pass the original measure.

"This amendment does nothing," Myrdal said. "It will never go to a study -- we all know that. It's just kicking the can down the road."

Myrdal said the bill is "the most common sense legislation we've seen so far."

The amendment was adopted on a “Verification vote,” meaning the vote board was dark, and members who voted for or against it are not revealed. Once that happened, Myrdal asked the Senators to vote “yes,” to get it into a conference committee.

The bill goes back to the House for further work.

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