The speaker of the house is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives. Nominally elected by the entire House on the first day of session, by tradition the speaker is nominated by a majority vote of the majority caucus. The speaker appoints committees, assigns bills to committee, and presides over floor sessions, making procedural rulings as necessary. The speaker is also second in the line of succession to the governorship, behind the lieutenant governor.
The speaker pro tempore is elected in the same manner as the speaker. This officer assists the speaker and presides in the speaker’s absence.
A complete list of speakers and speaker pro tems is included at the end of this post. See the overview of legislative leadership for other leadership positions in the State Legislature.
The position of speaker of the house dates back to statehood. In the early days of the state, the State Legislature met every other year, in odd-numbered years, following the November election in the previous year. The speakership generally rotated each session, although in few instances the speaker returned for a second session.
The State Legislature began meeting annually in 1963 and 1964, and speakers would by tradition serve for two sessions. Since that time, the only speaker to serve a second two-year term was Matt Michels, who presided over four sessions from 2003-06 (Michels, who also served eight years a lieutenant governor and president of the senate, is the longest-serving presiding officer the State Legislature’s history).
The position of speaker pro tempore was first elected in 1937, as a permanent deputy to the speaker of the house. In the early days of the position, there was no expectation that the speaker pro tempore would serve as speaker in the next session; in fact, prior to 1960, fewer than half of the speakers pro tempore went on to become speaker.
Beginning in 1963, the House began a predictable pattern of electing the prior speaker pro tempore as speaker of the house. There have been six instances since 1963 when a speaker pro tempore did not go on to serve as speaker in the next legislature, including three instances where the speaker pro tempore did not return to the next legislature, and two times when partisan control of the House shifted.
Five speakers of the house went on to serve as Governor of South Dakota: George T. Mickelson, Archie Gubbrud, Nils Boe, George S. Mickelson, and Walter Dale Miller. The latter three also served as speaker pro tempore. Only three more speakers have run for governor: John L. Browne, Lowell C. Hansen II, and Steven G. Haugaard.
Three generations of Mickelsons have served as speaker: George T. Mickelson, George S. Mickelson, and G. Mark Mickelson, who opted against a 2018 bid to follow his father and grandfather to the governor’s office. A bronze bust of George S. Mickelson is displayed in the House lobby; his middle name was “Speaker” because he was born while his father held that office.
Debra Anderson is the only woman to serve as speaker of the house. She was elected in 1987 after the previous speaker pro tempore, Scott N. Heidepriem, made a failed bid for U.S. House in 1986 and therefore was not a State House member in 1987. Anderson went on to be appointed by President George Bush to serve in the White House as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs.
The state’s largest city of Sioux Falls can claim the most speakers, with nine, followed by six from Rapid City. Aberdeen and Watertown can each claim four, Spearfish has had three, and Flandreau and Garretson can each claim two.
|#||SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE||PARTY||SESSIONS||CITY|
|1||Sutton E. Young||R||1889–1890||Sioux Falls|
|2||Charles X. Seward||IND1||1891||Watertown|
|3||James M. Lawson||R||1893||Aberdeen|
|4||Charles T. Howard||R||1895||Redfield|
|7||John L. Browne||R||1903–1905||Aberdeen|
|9||Charles J. Morris||R||1911||Sioux Falls|
|10||Peter J. Tscharner||R||1913||Lemmon|
|11||Charles A. Christopherson||R||1915||Sioux Falls|
|12||A. C. Roberts||R||1917||Pierpont|
|15||Emmet O. Frescoln||R||1923||Winner|
|16||Charles S. McDonald||R||1925||Sioux Falls|
|17||Ray F. Williamson||R||1927||Aberdeen|
|18||Daniel K. Loucks||R||1929||Watertown|
|19||B. W. McVeigh||R||1931||Britton|
|21||W. J. Eggert||D||1935||Rockham|
|22||A. C. Miller||R||1937–1939||Kennebec|
|23||George T. Mickelson||R||1941||Selby|
|24||O. H. Hove||R||1943||Colman|
|25||Anton C. Halls||R||1945||Garretson|
|26||George W. Mills||R||1947||Wall|
|27||Arthur E. Munck||R||1949||Pierre|
|28||Hugh H. Stokes||R||1951||Flandreau|
|29||Hobart H. Gates||R||1953||Custer|
|30||Nils Boe||R||1955–1957||Sioux Falls|
|32||Carl T. Burgess||R||1961||Rapid City|
|33||Paul E. Brown||R||1963–19644||Arlington|
|35||Charles C. Droz||R||1965–1966||Miller|
|36||James D. Jelbert||R||1967–1968||Spearfish|
|37||Dexter H. Gunderson||R||1969–1970||Irene|
|38||Donald E. Osheim||R||1971–1972||Watertown|
|39||Gene Lebrun||D5||1973–1974||Rapid City|
|40||Joseph H. Barnett||R||1975–1976||Aberdeen|
|41||Lowell C. Hansen II||R||1977–1978||Sioux Falls|
|42||George S. Mickelson||R||1979–1980||Brookings|
|43||Walter Dale Miller||R||1981–1982||New Underwood|
|44||Jerome B. Lammers||R||1983–1984||Madison|
|45||Donald J. Ham||R||1985–1986||Rapid City|
|46||Debra Anderson6||R||1987–1988||Sioux Falls|
|47||Royal J. “Bud” Wood||R||1989–1990||Warner|
|48||E. James Hood||R||1991–1992||Spearfish|
|49||Steve K. Cutler||R||1993–1994||Claremont|
|50||Harvey C. Krautschun||R||1995–1996||Spearfish|
|51||Rexford A. Hagg||R||1997–1998||Rapid City|
|52||Roger W. Hunt||R||1999–2000||Brandon|
|53||Scott G. Eccarius||R||2001–2002||Rapid City|
|55||Thomas J. Deadrick||R||2007–2008||Platte|
|56||Timothy A. Rave||R||2009–2010||Baltic|
|57||Valentine Rausch||R||2011–2012||Big Stone City|
|58||Brian G. Gosch||R||2013–2014||Rapid City|
|59||Dean A. Wink||R||2015–2016||Howes|
|60||G. Mark Mickelson||R||2017–2018||Sioux Falls|
|61||Steven G. Haugaard||R||2019–2020||Sioux Falls|
|62||Spencer R. Gosch||R||2021–2022||Glenham|
|63||Hugh M. Bartels||R||2023–||Watertown|
|#||SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE||PARTY||SESSIONS||CITY|
|1||W. K. Bishop3||R||1937||Leola|
|2||O. H. Hove||R||1939||Colman|
|3||Roswell Bottum||R||1941||Sioux Falls|
|4||Anton C. Halls||R||1943||Garretson|
|5||Thaddeus W. Oviatt||R||1945||Huron|
|6||Arthur E. Munck||R||1947||Pierre|
|7||Hugh H. Stokes||R||1949||Flandreau|
|8||Arbie F. Christopherson||R||1951||Watertown|
|9||Nils Boe||R||1953||Sioux Falls|
|10||Harry H. Martens||R||1955||Wessington|
|11||Hobart H. Gates||R||1957||Custer|
|12||Raymond E. Dana||R||1959||Sioux Falls|
|13||Paul E. Brown||R||1961||Arlington|
|14||Charles C. Droz||R||1963–19644||Miller|
|15||James D. Jelbert||R||1965–1966||Spearfish|
|16||Dexter H. Gunderson||R||1967–1968||Irene|
|17||Donald E. Osheim||R||1969–1970||Watertown|
|18||Joseph H. Barnett||R||1971–1972||Aberdeen|
|20||Lowell C. Hansen II||R||1975–1976||Sioux Falls|
|21||George S. Mickelson||R||1977–1978||Brookings|
|22||Walter Dale Miller||R||1979–1980||New Underwood|
|23||Jerome B. Lammers||R||1981–1982||Madison|
|24||Donald J. Ham||R||1983–1984||Rapid City|
|25||Scott N. Heidepriem||R||1985–1986||Miller|
|26||Royal J. “Bud” Wood||R||1987–1988||Warner|
|27||E. James Hood||R||1989–1990||Spearfish|
|28||Steve K. Cutler||R||1991–1992||Claremont|
|29||Harvey C. Krautschun||R||1993–1994||Spearfish|
|30||Rexford A. Hagg||R||1995–1996||Rapid City|
|31||Roger W. Hunt||R||1997–1998||Brandon|
|32||Scott G. Eccarius||R||1999–2000||Rapid City|
|34||Christopher W. Madsen||R||2003–2004||Spearfish|
|35||Thomas J. Deadrick||R||2005–2006||Platte|
|36||Timothy A. Rave||R||2007–2008||Baltic|
|37||Valentine Rausch||R||2009–2010||Big Stone City|
|38||Brian G. Gosch||R||2011–2012||Rapid City|
|39||Dean A. Wink||R||2013–2014||Howes|
|40||G. Mark Mickelson||R||2015–2016||Sioux Falls|
|41||Don K. Haggar||R||2017||Sioux Falls|
|42||Steven G. Haugaard||R||2018||Sioux Falls|
|43||Spencer R. Gosch||R||2019–2020||Glenham|
|44||Jonathon D. Hansen||R||2021–2022||Dell Rapids|
|45||Michael D. Stevens||R||2023–||Yankton|
- The 1891 House of Representatives was organized by a coalition of legislators who were Democrats and members of the populist “Independent Party.”
- The 1897 House of Representatives was organized by a coalition of Populist and Democratic legislators.
- The House first elected a speaker pro tempore in 1937.
- Beginning in 1963, the State Legislature held annual, rather than biennial, sessions.
- The 1973–74 House of Representatives was evenly divided and, by state law, was organized by the Democrats as the governor’s party.
- Anderson was the first woman to serve as speaker of the house.