Paul Hammel

Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

Volunteer firefighters plead for funds to buy radios that let them communicate with other departments, state agencies

By: - February 5, 2024

LINCOLN — As a wall of flames engulfed a Crete firefighter working a wildfire in Lancaster County in October 2022, other first responders had a problem — their radios. Some radios were outdated, some couldn’t communicate with a nearby firefighter and overloaded circuits blocked colleagues from summoning help for Brad Elder as the fire roared […]

Senators vote down proposals to end ‘spring forward, fall back’ changes

By: - February 5, 2024

LINCOLN — After debate stretching over three days, state lawmakers on Monday shot down efforts to do away with the “spring forward, fall back” system of switching clocks back and forth to and from daylight saving time. A bill to move the state to permanent daylight saving time drew only 14 of the necessary 25 […]

Nebraska state senator makes pitch for additional steps before use of eminent domain

By: - February 4, 2024

LINCOLN — An Omaha senator called Friday for increased regulation, and local government approval, before a utility or a pipeline company could use eminent domain to obtain right of way for an electric transmission line or pipeline. The discussion of Legislative Bill 1366 comes as the issue of eminent domain is beginning to heat up. […]

Lou Ann Linehan

Business groups, local governments say they support Pillen tax shift proposal if changes made

By: - February 2, 2024

LINCOLN — Four straight days of gathering public input on Gov. Jim Pillen’s plan to use higher and broader sales taxes to lower property taxes made it clear there’s more work to be done. On Friday, several key business and local government entities said they agreed high property taxes were a problem, but their support […]

Filibuster derails proposal to require two-person crews on trains in Nebraska

By: - February 2, 2024

LINCOLN — A filibuster stretching over three days derailed a proposal Friday to require two-person crews on trains operated by major railroads in Nebraska. State Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte — a major railroad center in the state — brought the proposal. He was able to advance it to floor debate in the State […]

Nebraska State Penitentiary

Nebraska joins national effort to reduce repeat crimes by released prison inmates

By: - February 2, 2024

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to clarify statistics provided by the Department of Corrections. LINCOLN — The state prison system has joined a national effort to reduce repeat crimes by released inmates, with a goal of increasing its success in rehabilitation programs. The latest data from the Nebraska Department of Corrections indicates that […]

Gov. Jim Pillen testifies to the Revenue Committee. (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

Groups line up to oppose new sales taxes on business, agriculture, Omaha zoo and advertising

By: - February 1, 2024

LINCOLN — It was “deja vu all over again” at the State Capitol on Thursday. Groups ranging from accountants to farmers, veterinarians to lawyers, owners of self-storage units and amusement game distributors, lined up to oppose attempts to remove long-running tax breaks for their industries. It was a replay of full-court presses in past years […]

New UNO report says Nebraska could avoid building a second new prison, reduce overcrowding

By: - February 1, 2024

LINCOLN — A new report on Nebraska’s chronic prison overcrowding says the state could alleviate crowding, and possibly avoid building a second, pricey new prison, by handling short-term inmates differently. The report recommended that inmates with sentences of less than a year — so called “short timers” — shouldn’t be sent to prison, but instead […]

Nebraska State Capitol Building

Another rocky reception for proposals to reduce property taxes

By: - January 31, 2024

LINCOLN — Another day and another rocky reception at the State Capitol for proposals to reduce property taxes in Nebraska. This time it was representatives of local governments that levy property taxes, such as school districts, counties and natural resources districts, who told state lawmakers Wednesday that harder caps on spending and property tax would […]

state auditor

State audit claims senior center manager in Ogallala overpaid herself

By: - January 31, 2024

LINCOLN — The Nebraska State Auditor’s Office on Wednesday accused the former director of an Ogallala senior center of improperly paying herself more than $11,000 upon leaving the job. According to an audit of the Keith County Senior Center, Jeanine “Jeanie” Herman paid herself $2,380 twice for unused vacation leave upon her exit in March […]

Lee Will

Pillen plan to ‘sweep’ excess cash funds gets bumpy reception at Capitol hearing

By: - January 30, 2024

LINCOLN — Gov. Jim Pillen’s plan to use excess cash reserves to “jump-start” his property tax relief proposal got a rough reception Tuesday during a state legislative hearing. A long line of representatives of wildlife, hunting, banking, retail, grocers, recycling and affordable housing groups spoke against two bills in the governor’s plan for “transformational” property […]

Debate continues on whether Nebraska should change to permanent daylight saving time or permanent standard time

By: - January 30, 2024

LINCOLN — For a second time, state lawmakers debated Tuesday whether Nebraska needs to pursue adopting permanent daylight saving time or join two states that have year-round standard time. The debate pits golfers and broadcasters, who support the added evening sunshine of DST, against health experts who argue that our biological clocks and sleep patterns […]