Indiana lawmakers likely to override trans sports bill veto

FILE - Indiana State Sen. JD Ford, D-Indianapolis, speaks at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Feb. 9, 2022, in girls' school sports, prompting heightened backlash from Democrats and activists before Tuesday's vote.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

FILE – Indiana State Sen. JD Ford, D-Indianapolis, speaks at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Feb. 9, 2022, in girls’ school sports, prompting heightened backlash from Democrats and activists before Tuesday’s vote. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

PA

Democrats and activists have little hope of securing the votes needed to enforce the Indiana governor’s veto of a bill banning transgender athletes from participating in school sports.

The Republican-dominated legislature is expected to override the veto of GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb, who in March said the legislation failed to provide a cohesive policy for what he called “fairness in K-12 sports.” But the bill passed by wide margins, and Republican leaders in the House and Senate pledged to override Holcomb’s veto with simple majorities.

Although two Republicans in the House and seven in the Senate voted against the measure, Democratic Sen. JD Ford of Indianapolis said the waiver would likely be successful when the Legislature meets for one day on Tuesday.

“This bill was introduced, I believe, with the intention of specifically going after transgender Hoosiers because it was a politically savvy thing to do for the Republican base,” Ford said Friday.

Still, Ford said Democrats continue to have conversations with lawmakers across the aisle, noting that some Republicans may be inclined to tweak their votes after the primary and the governor’s veto.

Holcomb signaled his support for the bill in February, but said in his veto letter to the Indiana High School Athletic Association, which has a policy covering transgender students wishing to play sports that match their gender identity and has stated that no transgender girl had finalized an application to play on an all-girls team.

Republican State Attorney General Todd Rokita, who joined other prominent Indiana Republicans in seeking a waiver, said in a letter released Thursday that Holcomb’s reasoning for the veto “is BS “, and that the Attorney General’s Office “stands ready to uphold the law and defend against any challenges.

“The Hoosiers will not be intimidated by woke groups threatening women‘s sports,” said Rokita, who brought in a senior prosecutor to testify at the legislative hearings in favor of the bill while Holcomb stayed out of the debate as Hundreds of opponents of the bill attended Statehouse rallies.

The governor’s office did not comment on Friday whether Holcomb was trying to influence lawmakers to uphold his veto and declined to respond to Rokita’s comments.

The bill’s Republican sponsors argue it is necessary to protect the integrity of women’s sports and opportunities for girls to earn college athletic scholarships, but did not cite any cases in Indiana of girls outdone by transgender athletes.

Opponents argue the bill is a bigoted response to a problem that doesn’t exist. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on Friday confirmed its intention to challenge what it called “hate legislation.”

“We hope other lawmakers have taken the time to research and read the bill and see that we shouldn’t be targeting children with laws,” said Indiana Youth Group CEO Chris Paulsen. . “We have to assume they are pushing this out of malice and targeting LGBTQ people, especially trans people.”

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Casey Smith is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow Smith on Twitter.

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