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South Dakota Gov. To Sign Bill Restricting Trans Women in Sports

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  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) will sign a bill approved by the state legislature Monday that limits high school and college women’s sports teams to “biological females, effectively banning transgender women and girls from participating.
  • Supporters of the Republican-sponsored bill argue it is necessary for fairness among competitors of women’s sports.
  • Opponents, however, say it hurts trans people in the state and is illegal under Title 7 as well as Title 9 of the Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex.
  • According to Human Right Watch, there are currently 37 bills aimed at restricting trans women in sports in statehouses across the country, including South Dakota’s and a nearly identical bill in Mississippi that has already been approved by lawmakers.

South Dakota Legislature Approves Anti-Trans Bill

The South Dakota state Senate passed a bill Monday that will ban transgender women and girls from participating in high school and college women’s sports teams. The bill will now go to Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who said she was “excited” to sign it “very soon.” 

Currently, the South Dakota High School Activities Association, which opposed the legislation, evaluates applications from trans students on a case-by-case basis. While they have only approved one application in the last 10 years, Republicans who sponsored the bill argue it is not enough.

Under their bill, schools and athletic associations will have to collect written documentation of every student athlete’s “reproductive biology.” 

Supporters of the measure claim that it is necessary to ensure fairness in women’s sports, but Democrats and civil rights groups say that it will have a devastating impact on trans people in the state both legally and emotionally.

Many critics also argue the bill violates Title 7 and Title 9 of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against students based on sex. As a result, several outlets have reported that whether or not the bill takes permanent effect in the state will almost certainly be decided in federal court — a fact that Republicans in the state Senate seemed to acknowledge.

Last week, a Republican-controlled Senate committee rejected the bill because it would pose a large range of issues for the state including legal battles, as well as administrative burdens and the possibility of big sporting organizations like NCAA not hosting events in the state.

A Growing Trend

South Dakota, however, is far from the only state that has proposed this kind of legislation. According to data from the Human Rights Campaign, there are at least 37 bills in statehouses across the country that aim to limit the participation of trans athletes in sporting events.

That figure includes the South Dakota bill as well as a nearly identical one in Mississippi that Gov. Tate Reeves (R) promised to sign last week.

Many experts say the surge in this kind of legislation is not because transgender women’s participation in sports has been a growing issue in the localities that have proposed these bills, but rather as a response to early actions taken by President Joe Biden’s administration.

According to the Associated Press, when the outlet reached out to more than two dozen lawmakers sponsoring these measures along with political groups that supported them, most were unable to provide one single example where this had been an issue in their state or district.

By contrast, Gov. Reeves explicitly noted Biden’s recent executive actions aimed at easing restrictions and expanding protections for transgender Americans in his decision to support the proposed law in his state.

Shortly after taking office, Biden signed orders rescinding former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military and issued another order aimed at protecting LGBTQ+ citizens in schools and healthcare services.

Biden additionally nominated Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s current secretary of health and a trans woman, as assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services.

In the role, Levine, who faced a series of offensive and transphobic questions from Senate Republicans during her confirmation hearing, would have significant sway over healthcare protections for transgender Americans at a national scale.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (CBS) (Business Insider)

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NY Attorney General Says Investigation of Trump Business Found “Significant Evidence” of Fraud

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The state attorney general’s office accused the former president and his family business of falsely inflating the value of assets and personal worth to lenders, the IRS, and insurance brokers.


New York Attorney General’s Filing

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced late Tuesday she had “significant evidence” that former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization “falsely and fraudulently” misrepresented the value of assets “to financial institutions for economic benefit.”

The allegations mark the first time James has made specific accusations against Trump and his business. They come as part of a nearly 160-page filing asking a judge to order the former president — along with Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. — to comply with subpoenas for the investigation after the family sued James to block her from questioning them.

The filing claims that Trump and the company inflated the value of six properties, including several golf courses and Trump’s own penthouse in Trump Tower, on financial statements to obtain favorable loans, tax deductions, and insurance coverage. 

The document adds that many of the financial statements were “generally inflated as part of a pattern to suggest that Mr. Trump’s net worth was higher than it otherwise would have appeared.”

James outlined several specific examples, such as a financial statement where the value of Trump’s Seven Springs estate in Westchester was boosted because it listed seven mansions on the property worth $61 million that did not actually exist.

That resulted in Trump receiving millions of dollars in tax deductions on that property, as well as another in Los Angeles.

In another notable instance, the attorney general’s office said that the $327 million value of Trump’s penthouse in Trump Tower was calculated off a financial statement that falsely reported his home was nearly triple its actual size.

While the statement claimed the apartment was 30,000 square feet, Trump had signed documents stating it was actually 10,996 square feet.

Alleged Direct Involvement

The allegation regarding the apartment is especially significant because it directly ties Trump himself to the accusations of financial wrongdoing. It is also not the only instance where Trump was implicated.

The filing additionally asserts that Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg — who was indicted last summer on multiple criminal charges relating to the business’ tax dealings — implied the former president was involved in finalizing the false valuations. 

According to the documents, Weisselberg “testified that it was ‘certainly possible’ Mr. Trump discussed valuations with him and that it was ‘certainly possible’ Mr. Trump reviewed the Statement of Financial Condition for a particular year before it was finalized.” 

Another top Trump Organization executive also testified that he was under the impression Trump reviewed the statements before they were finalized.

While the filing provides less direct links to Trump’s children, it does detail their involvement. Specifically, it alleges that Ivanka Trump rented an apartment at Trump Park Avenue and was given an option to buy it for $8.5 million, despite the fact that the property was valued at $25 million.

It also connected Donald Trump Jr. to some of the properties flagged by claiming investigators found evidence he “was consulted” on the Statements of Financial Condition.

Response

Citing these connections, James argued in a series of tweets Tuesday that it is necessary for her inquiry to question Trump and his two children on their alleged involvement.

“We are taking legal action to force Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump to comply with our investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings,” she wrote. “No one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.”

The former president has not yet addressed the matter, but a Trump Organization attorney representing Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump responded by arguing the subpoenas violate the constitutional rights of the family and that the filing “never addresses the fundamental contentions of our motion to quash or stay the subpoenas.”

In a statement Wednesday, the Trump Organization denied James’ allegations as “baseless” and accused her of trying to “mislead the public yet again.”

As far as what happens next, James’ office has said it “has not yet reached a final decision regarding whether this evidence merits legal action.”

Because James’s investigation is civil, she can sue Trump, his company, and his children, but she cannot file criminal charges. However, her probe is running parallel to a criminal investigation into the same conduct led by the Manhattan district attorney, who does have that power.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Wall Street Journal)

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Judges Uphold North Carolina’s Congressional Map in Major GOP Win

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The judges agreed that the congressional map was “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting” but said they did not have the power to intervene in legislative matters.


New Maps Upheld

A three-judge panel in North Carolina upheld the state’s new congressional and legislative maps on Tuesday, deciding it did not have the power to respond to arguments that Republicans had illegally gerrymandered it to benefit them.

Voting rights groups and Democrats sued over the new maps, which were drawn by the state’s Republican legislature following the 2020 census.

The maps left Democrats with just three of North Carolina’s 14 congressional seats in a battleground state that is more evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Previously, Democrats held five of the 13 districts the state had before the last census, during which North Carolina was allocated an additional seat.

The challengers argued that the blatantly partisan maps had been drawn in a way that went against longstanding rules, violated the state’s Constitution, and intentionally disenfranchised Black voters.

In their unanimous ruling, the panel — composed of one Democrat and two Republicans — agreed that both the legislative and congressional maps were “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting.”

The judges added that they had “disdain for having to deal with issues that potentially lead to results incompatible with democratic principles and subject our state to ridicule.”

Despite their beliefs, the panel said they did not have a legal basis for intervening in political matters and constraining the legislature. They additionally ruled that the challengers did not prove their claims that the maps were discriminatory based on race.

Notably, the judges also stated that partisan gerrymandering does not actually violate the state’s Constitution. 

The Path Ahead

While the decision marks a setback to the plaintiffs, the groups have already said they will appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The state’s highest court has a slim Democratic majority and has already signaled they may be open to tossing the map.

There are also past precedents for voting maps to be thrown out in North Carolina. The state has an extensive history of legal battles over gerrymandering, and Republican leaders have been forced to redraw maps twice in recent years.

A forthcoming decision is highly anticipated, as North Carolina’s congressional map could play a major role in the control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections if they are as close as expected. 

See what others are saying: (Politico) (The New York Times) (The Wall Street Journal)

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Biden Administration Says Private Insurers Will Have to Cover 8 At-Home Tests a Month

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The policy will apply to all the nearly 150 million Americans who have private insurance.


New At-Home Testing Policy

The Biden administration announced Monday that private health insurers will now be required to pay for up to eight at-home rapid tests per plan member each month.

Under the new policy, starting Saturday, private insurance holders will be able to purchase any at-home test approved by the FDA at a pharmacy or online. They will either not be asked to pay any upfront costs or be reimbursed for their purchase through their provider.

The move is expected to significantly expand access to rapid tests that other countries have been distributing to their citizens free of charge for months. 

According to reports, nearly 150 million Americans — about 45% of the population — have private insurance. 

Each dependent enrolled on the primary insurance holder’s account is counted as a member. That means a family of four enrolled on a single plan would be eligible for 32 free at-home rapid tests a month.

Potential Exemptions

All tests may not be fully covered depending on where they are purchased. 

In order to help offset costs, the Biden administration is incentivizing insurance providers to establish a network of “preferred” pharmacies and stores where people in the plan can get tests without paying out of pocket.

As a result, health plans that do create those networks will only be required to reimburse up to $12 per test if they are purchased out of that network, meaning people could be on the hook for the rest of the cost.

If an insurer does not set up a preferred network, they will have to cover all at-home tests in full regardless of the place of purchase.

During a briefing Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said tests should be “out the door in the coming weeks.”

“The contracts [for testing companies] are structured in a way to require that significant amounts are delivered on an aggressive timeline, the first of which should be arriving early next week,” she added.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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