COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – The South Carolina House of Representatives voted to give the Save Women’s Sports Act second reading ahead of a crucial legislative deadline.
House members set the bill for special order Tuesday afternoon, a few days before the state’s ‘crossover’ deadline. After April 10th, legislation still in its chamber of origin would need a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority to pass to the other chamber.
The bill got an 82-28 vote (mostly along party lines) late Tuesday evening. The legislation is set to get a routine, procedural vote for the third reading Wednesday and will be sent to the Senate.
H.4608 would ban transgender athletes from competing in female sports in South Carolina. House members spent hours debating dozens of amendments filed.
Rep. John King (D-York) said he had filed more than 900 amendments. “We’ll take those up today, possibly into the night and into tomorrow. I don’t believe we need to be debating something so frivolous,” he said.
Critics said the Save Women’s Sports Act targets transgender youth in South Carolina and could negatively impact the mental health of these youth. According to officials, at least two transgender athletes in South Carolina public schools have been granted waivers to compete in female sports.
Supporters said the legislation is needed to ensure fairness in women’s athletics. Rep. Melissa Oremus (R-Aiken) said, “Why are we evening thinking about this. If you have a little girl, you’re going to look her in the eye and put her on the basketball court with a man. Look at what happened with the swimming.”
The House invoked cloture limiting how much time lawmakers can spend deliberating possible changes to the bill.
At one point during Tuesday’s debate, House members were escorted out of the chamber due to a tornado warning in the Columbia area. After that warning expired, lawmakers returned to the floor.
As of Tuesday evening, House members had taken up more 60 amendments. Rep. King informed the House he pulled his remaining amendments. The vote to give the legislation second reading happened around 9:15, more than 9 hours after the House reconvened.
Other bills lawmakers could debate before the deadline include an anti- critical race theory bill and abortion-related legislation.