State attorney general touts office accomplishments
Jon Bruning loves his job.
Nebraska’s attorney general also likes to talk about what he does as the top law enforcement officer and lawyer for the state.
Bruning shared thoughts with Gothenburg Rotarians Monday at the Randazzle Cafe about his job and what he says he’s accomplished.Since election in 2002, he told the group that his office has succeeded in getting state senators to pass 35 bills in the Legislature, many of which “ratchet down on criminals.”
Some of the legislation includes tougher penalties for sexual child predators and methamphetamine traffickers and manufacturers.
In 2005, Bruning said he worked to pass a law that requires products with pseudoephedrine, a main ingredient in meth manufacturing, to be sold behind pharmacy counters.
“Since then, the number of meth labs in Nebraska have dropped 90%,” he said, noting that fewer meth labs mean less of the best law enforcement officers in the state are spending time cleaning up hazardous sites.
He also took responsibility, with help from then New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer, for forcing Yahoo to shut down chat sites where sexual predators often found young victims.
Bruning said he also got the Internet service provider to pay Nebraska $1 million, which is used to train law enforcement in how to catch sexual predators.
“We’re warning kids little by little,” he said.
By working with Gov. Dave Heineman, the attorney general said they were successful in recruiting Yahoo to Omaha where the company plans to build a tech center.
In addition, Bruning took credit for his office helping prosecutors in rural areas since many good lawyers live in metropolitan areas.
“When the county attorney in Gothenburg needs backup, they need us,” he said.
He praised Gothenburg for having four Fortune 500 companies but said he was sorry Tenneco Automotive Monroe in Cozad—with 50 employees from Gothenburg—planned to close its doors.
When Bruning first took over as attorney general, he said the consumer protection department had served 1,000 Nebraskans.
That number has now grown to 3,500 people who have received $1 million collectively because of help from his office, he said.
Bruning noted he’s president-elect of the National Association of Attorneys General and that he led 43 states in an effort to insure that consumers and dealers were protected when GM declared bankruptcy.
During questions and answers, Bruning said he supports alternative sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders as opposed to sending them to prison.
“But we have to separate the nonviolent from the violent who need long sentences,” he said, noting that housing prisoners is much more expensive than work camps and other alternatives.
Bruning said the state needs to try harder to insure drivers have insurance and also said that prescription drug fraud is a big problem in Nebraska.
He praised Nebraska for its fiscally conservative government when other states like California are operating in the red because of bad decisions.
The amount of money Nebraska is liable to pay for Republican River water diverted from Kansas for agriculture has dwindled from $72 million to $10,000 based in part because of what Bruning said his office has done.
“Kansas needs to realize that spending money on the lawsuit is not useful,” he said, noting that Republican River Basin farmers are using far less water because of practices like metered wells.
Bruning said he planned to run for re-election in 2010. If he’s successful, it will be his third term in the office.