What Does a Governor Do?

A governor acts as the chief executive officer for the state government, implementing state laws while overseeing the operation of the state executive branch. The abilities and functions of governors vary from state to state.

Governors can be empowered to call legislative sessions, confirm executive and judicial appointments and issue executive orders. They also have the ability to veto state bills and use line-item vetoes. In some states, legislatures can override these vetoes with a majority vote. Governors outside of the states of Oregon, Alaska and Wisconsin can appoint a U.S. Senator in the case of a vacancy, until a special election is held. Special elections for vacancies in many elected offices are initiated by the governor.

Nebraska governors can issue requisitions to return criminals accused of crimes back to the state for trial as well as enforce criminal laws. Governors can also serve as the Commander-in-Chief of state military forces in states where the National Guard is not federalized. Reprieves, pardons and stays of execution are also part of the powers that many governors hold. Budgets for the year, or sometimes multiple years, are handled by the governor and submitted to the legislature for review and approval. Governors appoint or nominate boards and commissions to help advise regulation and legislature in varying professional and business-related areas.