By Russ Pankonin, The Imperial Republican
Water continues to be the driving economic force not just in Southwest Nebraska but throughout the whole state. Nebraska’s economy is built on agriculture and irrigation plays a major role in that success.
We who live in the Republican River basin have a greater appreciation for what irrigation means to the livelihoods of everyone in our communities, thanks to Kansas.
We know that with it, our region thrives. We also realize how devastating it would be without it. And we understand the importance of managing this precious resource both to sustain our economy and to remain in compact compliance with Kansas.
That’s why you need to cast your ballots for three candidates who either have a track record of defending our water resources or outside governmental forces or know first-hand how important irrigation is to our ag-based economy.
Tuesday, Nebraskans will go to the polls to choose which of their party’s candidates will advance to the General Election in November.
On the Republican state ticket, two specific races—governor and attorney general— have significant impact on how water issues will be dealt with in the next four to eight years.
There’s a third key race where water issues remain a top priority and that’s the race for the 44th Legislative District seat.
Because water is so key to the region, it’s crucial we elect officials who understand the issue. That’s why I’m endorsing Jon Bruning for governor, Brian Buescher for attorney general and Dan Hughes for the 44th District seat and I encourage you to support them as well.
As attorney general, Jon Bruning and his staff have fervently defended Nebraska against the attempts by Kansas to shut down irrigation in the Republican Basin.
It’s taken Bruning most of his tenure but he leaves the office with significant, hard-fought victories that have insured that Kansas won’t be shutting off irrigation in Nebraska anytime soon.
Some of those key rulings include: a ruling limiting Kansas to just $5 million in damages for overuse in 2006 versus the $80 million Kansas sought; a ruling that Kansas does not have the authority to shut down more than 400,000 acres of irrigation in Nebraska; and a ruling that acknowledged a water credit accounting error which erroneously showed Nebraska consumed more water annually than it actually did.
His office is in ongoing arbitration with Kansas, seeking 100 percent credit for water pumped from two augmentation projects designed to deliver sufficient amounts of water to Kansas to insure compliance.
Omaha Attorney Brain Buescher grew up on a farm near Deweese and understands the importance of agriculture to this state. After graduating from UNL with his bachelor’s degree and from Georgetown University with his law degree, Buescher returned to his roots in Nebraska, joining the esteemed law firm of Kutak Rock in Omaha.
He coupled his business acumen and his love of farming into a career as an agri-business litigator for the firm. Today, he heads the division, which includes 16 offices nationwide.
He feels government continues to overstep its bounds with federal regulations developed within the various branches of federal government. He’s defended many farmers, ranchers and businesses against the overreach of those same regulations from agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
When it comes to water, Buescher brings experience as well. Early in his career, he assisted the attorney general’s office in preparing water use figures prior to the 2003 compact settlement with Kansas.
He believes Kansas already receives its fair share of water and as attorney general will continue to assert Nebraska’s rights to protect water within the state’s borders.
When it comes to water issues, “I will be very focused on that,” he said on a campaign stop in Imperial.
Outgoing State Senator Mark Christensen built his reputation as a “water senator” during his past eight years in the Legislature. With him leaving the body due to term limits, it’s important that voters in the 44th District send another senator back to Lincoln that has a keen understanding of water issues in the basin and the state. That man is Dan Hughes.
As a farmer who farms both dryland and irrigated ground, Hughes understands the importance the ag economy commands in the 44th District as well as in Nebraska.
As an irrigator, Hughes also knows how to manage water to best suit his farming operation. He also understands the importance of what water means to the economy of the 44th District.
More importantly, Hughes can’t be labeled as a one-issue candidate. He realizes property taxes continue to be a growing burden on the local economies. Decreasing state aid from Lincoln has forced a heavier burden back on property owners, especially when it comes to paying for local education.
Hughes brings something else to the table that can’t be matched and that’s leadership.
He’s been active for many years with the Nebraska Wheat Growers. His dedication to the organization led to his appointment to the U.S. Wheat Associates, of which he will become chairman. His duties there have taken him across the world to promote U.S. wheat and agriculture. Those travels have allowed him to bring new perspectives back to Southwest Nebraska and the 44th District.
He has also served on the Nebraska Ethanol Board, the Perkins County Farm Services committee and the Grant/Perkins County school board.
A vote for these three candidates next Tuesday is a vote to protect water interests in the region and throughout Nebraska.