South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands

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South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2014 FY FY Budget:  $839,955
Term limits:  2 consecutive
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  South Dakota Constitution Article IV, Section 7
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Ryan Brunner.JPG
Name:  Ryan Brunner
Officeholder Party:  Republican
Assumed office:  January 10, 2015
Compensation:  $85,629
Next election:  November 6, 2018
Last election:  November 4, 2014
Other South Dakota Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerCommissioner of School and Public LandsNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commission
The South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands is an elected, constitutional officer in the executive branch of the South Dakota state government. The office is charged with supervising lands designated for educational use by the federal government, among other various duties. The commissioner is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two consecutive terms.[1]

Current officeholder

The current South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands is Ryan Brunner (R). Brunner was elected November 4, 2014, and sworn into office January 10, 2015. He replaced Vernon L. Larson (R) as commissioner.[2]


The South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands's powers, term of office, etc. are derived from Article IV of the South Dakota Constitution.

Article IV, Section 7:

Other Executive Officers--Powers and Duties

There shall be chosen by the qualified electors of the state at the general election of the Governor and every four years thereafter the following constitutional officers: attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, and commissioner of school and public lands, who shall severally hold their offices for a term of four years. Commencing with the 1992 general election, no person may be elected to more than two consecutive terms as attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, or commissioner of school and public lands.


There are no specific qualifications for the office of South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands.


South Dakota elects the Commissioner of School and Public Lands in midterm elections, not presidential election years. South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands election years include 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030.

Term limits

No person may serve as South Dakota Commissioner of Schools and Public Lands for more than two consecutive terms, as stated in Article IV, Section 7 of the South Dakota Constitution.

Full history


See also: South Dakota down ballot state executive elections, 2014

Republican Ryan Brunner won election on November 4, 2014.

South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRyan Brunner 76.5% 174,810
     Libertarian John English 23.5% 53,836
Total Votes 228,646
Election Results via South Dakota Secretary of State.


According to the South Dakota Codified Laws, Title 3, Chapter 4, the office of South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands is considered vacant if the incumbent:

  • Dies;
  • Resigns;
  • Is removed from office;
  • Fails to qualify as provided by law;
  • Is no longer a resident of the state;
  • Is convicted of "any infamous crime or of any offense involving a violation of his official oath;"
  • Or, breaches of his or her official bond.[3]

If a vacancy occurs in the office of commissioner after May 30 of an even-numbered year, it is filled till the end of the vacated term by gubernatorial appointment. If the vacancy is created prior May 30 of an even-numbered year, it is filled by election, unless the year the vacancy is created in a year when the term of office would normally expire. If a person is elected for to fill a vacancy, the newly-elected commissioner waits to take office until the day of that year when a full term for that office would normally commence.[4][5]


See Energy policy in South Dakota for information on the state's energy portfolio and goals.

The South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public lands has several duties prescribed by Article VIII of the South Dakota Constitution.

The office was mainly created to deal with lands designated for educational use by the federal government. Section 4 lays out the details for appraising such school lands that might be sold. It states that the commissioner sits on a board of appraisers that evaluate all school lands that are to be sold. This is board also includes the auditor and county superintendent of schools. Section 6 describes that such sales are to be conducted through the commissioner's office. All sales are subject to approval by the governor. Section 9 details the commissioner's role in leasing these lands.

Funds that are generated from the sale and lease of these lands and their mineral rights are used to fund education in the state.

Other duties of the commissioner of school and public lands include:

  • Managing Permanent Trust Fund
  • Issuing and maintaining grazing leases
  • Inspecting and repairing state owned CCC and WPA Dams
  • Issuing and monitoring all mineral leases for the State
  • Controling noxious weeds on school and public lands, state-owned dams and meandered lakes
  • Recording land transactions for easements on right-of-ways and state-owned lands
  • Purchasing and selling property as requested by the legislature or other state agencies
  • Issues Seismic Permits on state-owned mineral acres[1]


The commissioner is organized into three main divisions:

  • Education Permanate Trust Fund
  • Minerals Acres
  • Surface Acres

State budget

South Dakota School and Public Lands had an appropriated budget of $839,955 for the 2014 fiscal year.[6]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: SD Codified L § 3-8-2.1 (2014)

The commissioner's annual compensation is set by Title 3, Chapter 8, Section 2 (§ 3-8-2.1) of the South Dakota Codified Laws and it may not be raised or diminished effective during his term in office, pursuant to Article XII, Section 3 of the South Dakota Constitution.

As is the case for all of South Dakota's elected executives, the commissioner's base salary is subject to annual rate increases under the General Appropriations Act for each corresponding year.[7]


In 2014, the commissioner received a salary of $85,629.23, according to the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management.[8]


In 2013, the commissioner was paid an estimated $83,135.17.[8]

Historical officeholders

There have been 27 South Dakota Commissioners of School and Public Lands since 1889. Of the 27 officeholders, 23 were Republican and four were Democrat.[9]

List of Former Officeholders from 1889-Present
# Name Tenure Party
1 Osmer H. Parker 1889 – 1891 Ends.png Republican
2 Thomas H. Ruth 1891 – 1895 Ends.png Republican
3 John L. Lockhart 1895 – 1899 Ends.png Republican
4 David Eastman 1899 – 1903 Ends.png Republican
5 C.J. Bach 1903 – 1907 Ends.png Republican
6 O.C. Dokken 1907 – 1911 Ends.png Republican
7 F.F. Brinker 1911 – 1913 Ends.png Republican
8 Fred Hepperle 1913 – 1917 Ends.png Republican
9 N.E. Knight 1917 – 1925 Ends.png Republican
10 O.P.J Engstrom 1925 – 1933 Ends.png Republican
11 Ben Strool 1933 – 1939 Electiondot.png Democratic
12 Earl A. Hammerquist 1939 – 1943 Ends.png Republican
13 John A. Lunden 1943 – 1949 Ends.png Republican
14 Bernard Linn 1949 – 1971 Ends.png Republican
15 Ralph Ginn 1971 – 1972 Ends.png Republican
16 George D. Kane 1972 – 1979 Electiondot.png Democratic
17 John J. "Jack" Gerken 1979 – 1983 Ends.png Republican
18 F. Julian Cheney 1983 Ends.png Republican
19 David L. Volk 1983 – 1984 Ends.png Republican
20 John J. "Jack" Gerken 1984 Ends.png Republican
21 Sheldon E. Cotton 1985 – 1987 Ends.png Republican
22 Timothy H. Amdahl 1987 – 1990 Ends.png Republican
23 Curtis J. Johnson 1991 – 2003 Electiondot.png Democratic
24 Bryce Healy 2003 – 2007 Electiondot.png Democratic
25 Jarrod Johnson 2007 –2013 Ends.png Republican
26 Vernon L. Larson 2013-2015 Ends.png Republican
27 Ryan Brunner 2015-present Ends.png Republican

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms "South Dakota Commissioner School Public Lands."

Some of the stories below may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of Google's news search engine.

South Dakota Commissioner of School and Public Lands - Google News Feed

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Contact info

South Dakota School and Public Lands
500 East Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501
Phone: (605) 773-3303
Fax: (605) 773-5520

See also

External links

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