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Burgum vetoes transgender sports, mask mandate bills

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Gov, Doug Burgum has vetoed bills dealing with transgender sports and prohibiting mask mandates.

The transgender sports bill would have required elementary and secondary students who wish to play team sports to join teams based on their gender at birth.

Supporters of HB 1298 say it is meant to protect girls’ sports.

In his veto message, Burgum said North Dakota has fairness in girls’ sports, because of the thoughtful leadership of the North Dakota High School Activities Association. He said HB 1298 would “unnecessarily inject the state into a local issue by creating a ban with myriad unforeseen circumstances.” Burgum also said there have been no incidents of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls’ team.

The ACLU of North Dakota issued a statement, saying it is “thrilled” with Burgum’s decision. The Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota said the veto “fails to protect North Dakota girls from discrimination in sports.

Mask Mandate prohibition

Burgum has also vetoed a measure that prohibits the Governor, the state Health Officer or other state officials from implementing a “mask mandate.”

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Burgum instituted a mask mandate to help slow the spread of the virus.

In his veto message, Burgum said,  “This bill removes a tool from the emergency toolkit that may be needed to help our state save lives and nimbly navigate future pandemics and their unknowable challenges.”

The measure is HB 1323. Both houses of the Legislature need two-thirds votes to overturn the veto.

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