(Bismarck, ND) -- North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum issued two vetoes Wednesday night. The first, a bill that would have prevented any statewide elected official or state health officer from issuing a statewide mask mandate. In the Governor's veto message for HB 1323, he said "To strip future governors and their state health officers of any low-cost tool that might be used to save lives and livelihoods in a future pandemic or other emergency would be both irresponsible and an unnecessary risk to the future public health and well-being of North Dakota citizens." The second veto came to House Bill 1298. That has been known as the Transgender Sports Bill. In vetoing this bill, Burgum wrote “To date, there has not been a single recorded incident of a transgender girl attempting to play on a North Dakota girls’ team.” Lawmakers may have one final chance to override the vetoes.
More from Burgum on HB 1298:
"Further, the NDHSAA already has regulations in place for participation in sex-separated interscholastic contests by transgender students. These regulations require transgender girls to undergo testosterone suppression treatment for gender transition for a full calendar year before they are eligible to compete in girls' sports. This bill’s proposed blanket prohibitions do not extend to students attending tribal or privately funded schools, thereby creating the potential for an unlevel playing field."
More from Burgum on HB 1323:
"North Dakota implemented the shortest statewide mask requirement in the country, lasting 65 days. This tool was used briefly and judiciously, in combination with other protocols, at a time when North Dakota's health care facilities and staff were overwhelmed with patients and pandemic-related deaths of North Dakota citizens were peaking. These measures were followed by dramatic reductions in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The current pandemic has painfully demonstrated that viruses do not respect borders and localized protocols may, at peak times, not be adequate to mitigate infection rates and protect our most vulnerable citizens of all ages.
The statewide mask requirement was implemented in November only after officials in North Dakota's largest cities had already enacted local mask measures and they, along with an overwhelming majority of our health care leaders, doctors and medical professionals, were requesting a statewide mask requirement to help relieve the immense pressure on our overtaxed hospitals, long-term care facilities and exhausted frontline health care workers, and to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. The statewide mask requirement was lifted on Jan. 18. 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."