The governor serves as a spokesman for the state, promoting business and economic development interests.
The governor is actively involved in the legislative process; he may introduce legislation, and has the power to veto bills passed by the legislature (though vetoes may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of each house).
The governor oversees the executive branch, and appoints the members of his cabinet. The governor also appoints the members of a wide array of state boards and commissions.
The governor may grant pardons to those convicted of criminal offenses under state law.
The governor fills vacancies that occur in the state legislature, the state judiciary, and other state constitutional offices. The governor also fills vacancies in U.S. Senate seats from South Dakota.
From 1889 until 1974, the governor served a two-year term. Until the 1940s, the governor was allowed to serve unlimited terms; since that time, governors have been limited to two consecutive terms. Beginning in 1974, the governor is elected to a four-year term, and may serve two consecutive terms. The governor is elected on a ticket with the Lieutenant Governor.
South Dakota's longest-serving governor was Bill Janklow. Janklow was the first governor to complete two four-year terms, and he did it twice, serving from 1979 to 1987 and again from 1995 to 2003. Janklow is also the only person to serve non-consecutive terms as governor.