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.

Gering farmer sentenced to prison, ordered to pay $5 million in restitution

By: - November 3, 2023

Correction: this article has been revised to indicate that Great Western Bank of Scottsbluff was purchased by First Interstate Bank. A press release gave an incorrect name for the new owner of the bank. LINCOLN — A Gering farmer has been sentenced to 36 months in prison and to pay more than $5 million in […]

Nebraska senators revisit what went right, and wrong, with state response to the COVID-19 pandemic

By: - November 1, 2023

LINCOLN — With terms such as “directed health measure,” “personal protective equipment” and “quarantine” being spoken at the State Capitol on Wednesday, you’d think the COVID-19 pandemic was still underway. Instead, a panel of state lawmakers called on nine health care associated officials to look back and explain what went right, and wrong, with Nebraska’s […]

Abortion rights rally

Abortion rights advocates file initiative petition language, but they’re mum on its exact content

By: - October 31, 2023

LINCOLN — Planned Parenthood officials filed their proposed language Tuesday for an initiative to restore abortion rights that they hope will be placed on the 2024 ballot in Nebraska. But, for now, exactly what proposal voters may see will remain secret, in part due to a state law that allows such language to remain confidential […]

State Capitol

38 state senators condemn Hamas for ‘atrocities’ and for seeking to ‘maximize civilian casualties’

By: - October 31, 2023

LINCOLN — Thirty-eight of Nebraska’s 49 state senators have signed a statement condemning Hamas for its “brutal, highly organized, and unprecedented attack upon Israel.” State Sen. Brad von Gillern of Elkhorn, who organized the statement, said that the signers felt it was “important to speak out against the atrocities happening against the Israeli people and […]

Missouri official hired as new medical director for Nebraska Department of Corrections

By: - October 30, 2023

LINCOLN — The medical director for a private, for-profit provider of health care for Missouri prison inmates began work Monday as the new medical director for the Nebraska Department of Corrections. Dr. Jerry Lee Lovelace Jr. succeeds Dr. Harbans Deol, who retired in February after serving seven years in the key position. Lovelace, who will […]

Missouri journalism professor slams Pillen for ‘Communist China’ comment about Missouri grad

By: - October 29, 2023

LINCOLN — Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen got a mention in USA Today the other day, but not for a reason he probably wanted. It came in a commentary Wednesday in the nationally distributed newspaper headlined, “Dodging questions, Nebraska governor stokes hate against reporter. Is this America?” Kathy Kiely , a former USA Today reporter who […]

TANF funds

Advocates seek better use of $126 million in excess federal funds for needy families

By: - October 27, 2023

LINCOLN — Newly divorced and trying to put her life back together as a single parent raising a child, Katie Nungesser turned to government assistance years ago to make ends meet. But Nungesser came to discover that taking Aid to Dependent Children assistance came with a catch: Child support funds paid by her ex-husband would […]

Longtime state property tax administrator is leaving key post

By: - October 26, 2023

LINCOLN — Ruth Sorensen, the state’s property tax administrator since 2007, is leaving her post after sources say she was asked to resign. Her exit was announced Thursday morning in a two-paragraph press release from the Governor’s Office headlined, “Gov. Pillen Accepting Applications for Property Tax Administrator.” The job became vacant, the press release then […]

FBI, other law enforcement officials, urge vigilance by Jewish community during outbreak of violence in Middle East

By: - October 26, 2023

LINCOLN — The FBI and local law enforcement officials urged vigilance Thursday among members of the state’s Jewish community for possible threats associated with the Israel-Hamas conflict. “The FBI has seen an increase in reports of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and institutions, raising our concern that violent extremists and lone offenders motivated by […]


Lincoln manufacturer welcomes immigrants in efforts to address state’s workforce shortage

By: - October 25, 2023

LINCOLN — Inside the cavernous TMCO Inc. manufacturing plant, Wsim Taibah, a refugee from Syria, worked Wednesday to weld huge steel parts together Taibah, who fled the civil war that devastated his Middle East homeland, is among workers from 17 different countries, including Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iraq and Sudan, working for the company. Reaching out to […]

Jim Pillen

Pillen sidesteps question about apology to reporter who grew up in China

By: - October 25, 2023

LINCOLN — Gov. Jim Pillen sidestepped a question Wednesday about whether he planned to apologize to an Omaha-based investigative reporter for saying her work should be ignored because she grew up “in communist China.” It marked the first time Pillen, a first-term governor whose family raises hogs, had been asked directly if he planned to […]

farmers harvest

Changing valuation of farmland to income-producing capability is the wrong approach, prof says

By: - October 24, 2023

LINCOLN — Adopting a new system of valuing agricultural land in Nebraska based on its income-producing capability was panned Tuesday as a possible solution to the state’s traditionally high property taxes. John Anderson, an economics professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that adopting a “use/value” approach in valuing ag land — as advocated by […]