Paul Hammel

Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.

Pillen vetoes more than $140 million in proposed spending, calls it ‘excessive government spending’

By: - May 24, 2023

LINCOLN — Gov. Jim Pillen, four months after taking office, wielded his veto pen Wednesday night, redlining more than $140 million in proposed spending over the next two years by state lawmakers. Pillen, a conservative Republican, said “we must continue to fight against excessive government spending.” His vetoes included more than $45 million in increases […]

‘Opportunity Scholarship’ bill, given final OK, will make Nebraska a ‘school choice’ state

By: - May 24, 2023

LINCOLN — Nebraska would join 48 other states in offering “school choice” under a bill given final approval Wednesday. Proponents of the “Opportunity Scholarships Act” said it will allow low-income families the opportunity to send their kids to private and parochial schools via the generous tax breaks offered to those donating funds for private school […]

Nebraska Crossing

Omnibus tax credit bill advances after $81 million in incentives were pared back

By: - May 23, 2023

Editors’s note: story has been updated to reflect new information about fiscal impact. LINCOLN — An omnibus tax credit bill that offers breaks for everything from biodiesel to huge waste incinerators to airport improvements to expansion of the Nebraska Crossing shopping mall marched forward Tuesday night after incentives were trimmed. The bill also opens the […]

U.S. Attorney’s Office adding prosecutors to focus on violent crime, federal aid fraud

By: - May 23, 2023

LINCOLN — The United States Attorney’s Office will add three additional federal prosecutors, with one focusing on violent crime, another handling government fraud, and the third leading the office’s eLitigation program. U.S. Attorney Steve Russell, in an announcement Tuesday, said the additional lawyers and two support staffers are a “significant investment of additional resources” to […]

criminal justice reform

Major criminal justice reform bill limps past initial debate amid disagreements

By: - May 22, 2023

LINCOLN — A major criminal justice proposal limped forward Monday night at the Nebraska Legislature amid lingering disagreements over sentencing policies. Legislative Bill 50 — which was the subject of sidebar negotiations throughout the day and into the evening — was advanced from first-round debate on a 28-8 vote. But the vote came only after […]

Joel Sartore

Photographs of endangered species by Nebraska’s Joel Sartore featured on new stamps

By: - May 22, 2023

LINCOLN — Nebraska-based photographer Joel Sartore has spent much of his career documenting endangered species across the globe, starting with a naked mole rat at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. Now his work, featured on National Geographic Explorer, will also be displayed in a new series of stamps. A series of 20 stamps, showcasing endangered animals […]


Six Nebraska communities awarded grants for historic preservation

By: - May 22, 2023

LINCOLN — A 98-year-old flour mill and a ballroom in Schuyler are among the recipients of federal grants for preserving structures on the National Register of Historic Places. Six projects will share in $328,000 worth of grants allocated by History Nebraska for communities of populations under 30,000. The Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants will be […]

seat belts

Mother who lost daughter in crash urges Nebraskans to buckle up

By: - May 21, 2023

LINCOLN — A Lexington mother who lost a daughter in a 2008 vehicle accident joined law enforcement officials last week in urging Nebraskans to buckle up. Jackie Rowan, whose daughter Erika wasn’t using a safety belt, said you never get over such a loss. “My life will never be OK, not ever,” Rowan said. “By […]


New campus opens in Lincoln for health and wellbeing. Advocates hope it’s duplicated across state.

By: - May 19, 2023

LINCOLN — A ribbon-cutting ceremony this week celebrated the opening of the new CenterPointe Campus for Health and WellBeing. It’s the kind of facility that state lawmakers hope will be duplicated across the state to improve behavioral health treatment. On Friday, the Nebraska Legislature gave final approval to Legislative Bill 276, a measure sponsored by […]

Legislature takes steps to ensure decorum during Friday’s debate on abortion/trans health care

By: - May 19, 2023

LINCOLN — Nebraska Legislature leaders issued a plea Friday for decorum during the expected emotional debate in the afternoon over abortion and transgender health care for minors. State Sen. John Arch, the Speaker of the Legislature, and three others senators issued a memo Friday morning to fellow senators and legislative staff laying out “ways to […]

State pays compensation to five first responders killed in action in 2022

By: - May 18, 2023

LINCOLN — Families of five Nebraska first responders killed in the line of duty in 2022 will receive $250,000 each under a new state law that provides compensation for fallen public safety officers. The Legislature first adopted compensation in 2021, then upped the compensation from $50,000 to $250,000 last year under a bill from then-Sen. […]

Nebraska State Penitentiary

Lawmakers pass state budget, make few adjustments from governor’s plan

By: - May 18, 2023

LINCOLN — State lawmakers gave a final OK Thursday to a two-year budget that calls for about $5.3 billion a year in spending, with an average increase of 2.2%. The austere budget sets aside a generous amount for cuts in state income taxes and increases in tax credits for property taxes, as well as allocating […]