Mike Hilgers

Nebraska Attorney General

Attorney General Mike Hilgers January Column: Getting to Work for Nebraska

On January 5, 2023, I took the oath of office to become the 33rd Attorney General serving the great State of Nebraska. By taking the oath, I joined the “people’s law firm,” teaming up with the professionals already hard at work representing Nebraskans across the state. Over the coming months, we will update you on the work we are doing for you.
In this column, I want to give you an overview of our office. The Attorney General has a variety of responsibilities, and we have specific departments (which we refer to as “bureaus”) organized to fulfill our duties. Here are a few: 
  • We have bureaus focused extensively on crime, with criminal prosecution, criminal appeals, and Medicaid fraud teams. These groups investigate and prosecute crimes across the state, with a particular emphasis on helping prosecute crimes in greater Nebraska. We also handle all appeals in criminal cases, conduct victim advocacy, fight the scourge of human trafficking, and work to support law enforcement around the state. 
  • Our natural resources bureau serves to protect Nebraska’s natural resources. Among their important obligations is to protect Nebraska’s rights to its water, such as enforcing compacts with other states.
  • We represent the State of Nebraska in civil court cases while also advising state agencies on legal questions that they might have.  
  • The office has a consumer protection bureau, which helps protect Nebraska consumers. These attorneys often join with other states fighting against companies who are harming Nebraska consumers (such as our pending case against Google) while focusing on those bad actors in the state who try to scam or defraud Nebraska consumers, in particular elderly Nebraskans. 
  • We also defend the rights of Nebraskans, especially when the federal government or states violate the United States Constitution. In those cases, our Solicitor General stands in court to defend Nebraskans and our founding documents. 
Our office has many more responsibilities; a few additional examples include enforcing the open meetings laws, enforcing compliance with medical licensing statutes, and providing opinions at the request of the Nebraska Legislature and executive agencies. As we head into the new year, we will ensure that these obligations of the office are discharged with the degree of professionalism and skill that Nebraskans expect and deserve.
Other challenges loom. One such challenge involves Nebraska’s water rights under the 1923 Nebraska-Colorado Compact. That agreement gives Nebraska rights to significant flows from the South Platte River during the non-irrigated season if Nebraska builds the Perkins County Canal. In 2022, while serving as Speaker of the Legislature, I worked with then-Governor Ricketts to pass LB 1015 and provide a down-payment appropriation of over $50 million to build the canal. Governor Pillen, in his State of the State address, announced his administration’s commitment to fully fund the completion of this critical infrastructure project. As Attorney General, we will protect Nebraskans’ rights under that Compact.
There also exists crucial courtroom fights with the Biden Administration. Time and again, whether through executive orders or rulemaking, the Biden Administration has acted outside of the scope of constitutional authority. State attorneys general provide a critical check to federal overreach. Our office is in the courtroom defending the Constitution—one example is Biden v. Nebraska, in which Nebraska has challenged the Biden Administration’s $400 billion decision to cancel student loan debt without congressional authorization. The Supreme Court will hear argument from our office in February, and we will be in Washington, D.C. to ensure that the separation of powers framework in the Constitution is protected.
As the year unfolds, challenges and issues will arise that we do not yet know about today. When they do, we will tackle them with first-class legal work, attention to detail, a spirit of public service, a focus on justice, and with the rights and interests of Nebraskans always at the forefront of our minds.
I would encourage you to visit our website (https://ago.nebraska.gov/) to learn more about our work. In addition, I’d encourage you to follow us on Twitter @NEAttorneyGen and Facebook as we communicate the work of the office.
It is an honor to serve you as Attorney General, and on behalf of the professionals in our office, thank you for the opportunity to serve. We look forward to the work ahead in 2023.
Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers