Overview of Leadership in the SD State Legislature

The South Dakota State Legislature is managed day-to-day by its legislative leadership, the officers that are elected by the members of the State Senate and the State House of Representatives.

The speaker of the house is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives, and is second in the line of succession to the governorship, after the lieutenant governor. The speaker appoints committees, assigns bills to committee, and presides over floor sessions, making procedural rulings as necessary. Assisting the speaker is the speaker pro tempore, who presides over the House when the speaker is not available.

The president of the senate is the lieutenant governor, who presides over floor sessions, makes procedural rulings, and votes in the case of a tie. The president pro tempore appoints committees and assigns bills to committee, and presides when the president cannot. The president pro tempore is third in line to the governorship, after the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house.

The day-to-day business of the State Legislature is managed by the party floor leaders. In each house, the majority leader plans the calendar and makes the appropriate motions to keep legislative business moving. Majority leaders and minority leaders manage their caucus meetings and represent their members in negotiations. Each majority leader and minority leader has an assistant leader to aid them in their duties. The party caucuses also elect a number of party whips to aid the caucus leadership.

Thirteen Governors of South Dakota have previously held at least one of these legislative leadership positions:

  • Speaker of the House: George T. Mickelson, Archie Gubbrud, Nils Boe, George S. Mickelson, Walter Dale Miller
  • President Pro Tempore of the Senate: Robert S. Vessey, Frank M. Byrne, Carl Gunderson
  • Speaker Pro Tempore of the House: Nils Boe, George S. Mickelson, Walter Dale Miller
  • Party floor leader: Ralph Herseth (Senate Minority Leader), Archie Gubbrud (House Majority Leader), Richard F. Kneip (Senate Minority Leader), Harvey Wollman (Senate Minority Leader and Senate Majority leader), Walter Dale Miller (House Majority Leader), and Mike Rounds (Senate Majority Leader)
  • Assistant party floor leader: Walter Dale Miller (Assistant House Majority Leader), Kristi Noem (Assistant House Majority Leader)