Ahead of the South Dakota primary, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem says she’s committed to fighting to preserve her state’s way of life against government “overreach” from the Biden administration in girls’ sports, schools, and even whether they can have fireworks at Mount Rushmore over the Fourth of July.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Noem said she is confident that she will prevail against many of the Biden administration’s policies, including a proposal that could deny school lunch program funding to areas that ban biological males from competing on girls’ teams.
“What’s concerning to me is that they want to see this type of agenda go forward and clearly the people of South Dakota don’t,” Noem said. “And that’s one of the reasons that I think it’s important for me to do my job, and to make sure that I’m protecting our way of life but also protecting fairness in girls’ sports in our state.
Noem threatened to sue the Department of Agriculture (USDA) if it continues with guidance that could strip lunch program funding from schools that don’t adhere to transgender inclusion rules, which include access for transgender athletes to sports teams of their gender identity.
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The USDA announced May 5 that nutrition funding through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be tied to the Biden administration’s transgender inclusion principles, which state that “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”
The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) said that states and local organizations receiving funding for food assistance “must investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Those organizations must also update their non-discrimination policies and signage to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.”
Noem and others believe that guidance could mean the federal government will withhold funding for school meals from South Dakota, which has a law restricting biological males who identify as transgender from participating on girls’ sports teams.
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“Literally what they’re saying is they’re going to take food off of our children’s plates we don’t comply with their liberal agenda,” Noem told Fox News Digital. “And for us in South Dakota, it’s always been a basic fairness issue. We just believe that only girls should be planning girls sports, and we want to give our young women an opportunity to be successful and compete in sports on a level playing field. This is really tragic situation at the by the administration is pushing down our throats.”
“It’s such an overreach of the federal government we’ve been down this path before,” Noem said.
Noem touted her administration’s success in joining a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s mandate that large businesses require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Supreme Court earlier this year struck down the vaccine mandate, and Noem insists that if her state sued the administration over the school lunch policy, they would win.
“That’s exactly the same path I will take in the situation. If Joe Biden rolls out this regulation saying the biological males have to play in girls sports in our states, then I will take him to federal court once again, and we know that we’ll have standing and will obviously be successful as well,” Noem said.
Noem, who is seeking re-election for a second term as governor, also took aim at Biden’s push to pass gun control legislation in the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York. “I think everybody’s asking the wrong question. They should be having an honest conversation about what is causing this problem — and it’s not guns, it’s mental health,” Noem said.
A big part of the issues that lead to mass shootings is broken families, Noem said.
“We have a country that has allowed parents to not be parents. People to put their children in front of video games and with phones instead of spending time with them,” Noem said. “I just believe that more laws and more regulations on our Second Amendment is not really addressing the true crisis situation. What’s going on is in the collective getting people to resources and help that they need when they’re dealing with a mental health issue,” she continued.
Noem, who faces state House Speaker Steve Haugaard Tuesday evening for the GOP nomination for governor, is also involved in suing the National Parks Service to allow fireworks at Mount Rushmore for July 4. “Last year, the President hypocritically held a fireworks celebration in Washington, D.C., while denying us our own event. This year, it looks like they are planning to do the same,” Noem said in a March news release.
“They are literally ignoring federal law in order to punish South Dakota, so that’s why I’m challenging them,” Noem told Fox News Digital. “I believe that even the federal government should have to comply with the laws that we have in this country.”
But Noem’s record is the key election issue for Haugaard. “The governor has been there now for nearly four years and problems aren’t being solved,” Haugaard said. “We see some bandaids. We see some knee-jerk reactions, but we don’t see comprehensive solutions to problems.”