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.

A shift in the ‘backfield’: State Patrol, instead of UNL police, will escort NU football coach off field after games

By: - August 31, 2023

LINCOLN — During Thursday night’s Nebraska-Minnesota football game, spectators might have noticed a shift in the “backfield” that provides security for the NU football coach. In a change communicated Friday, the Nebraska State Patrol’s executive protection team — the group that provides security for the governor — will now escort NU football coach Matt Rhule […]

State Capitol

Governor seeks applicants for State Treasurer vacancy after Murante signals he’s leaving Sept. 18

By: - August 30, 2023

LINCOLN — State Treasurer John Murante has officially submitted his resignation, effective Sept. 18, triggering a call for applicants for the $85,000-a-year elective post. Gov. Jim Pillen, who will make the appointment, said in a press release Wednesday that he wants to make his decision quickly. He set a deadline for applications for Wednesday, Sept. […]

new state prison

Change of ‘circumstances’ and criticism by residents lead to new site for state prison

By: - August 30, 2023

LINCOLN — A change of heart by Lincoln’s mayor and complaints by nearby residents led Wednesday to an agreement to move the location of a planned, 1,500-bed state prison. The new location is a plot of 300 acres of farmland owned by the City of Lincolns east of the Lincoln city landfill, and just north […]

prison site

Turmoil over site for new state prison prompts press conference Wednesday

By: - August 29, 2023

LINCOLN  — East of the Lincoln city landfill lies nearly 417 acres of rolling farmland, trees and prairie owned by the City of Lincoln that some local officials and residents say would be a better location for a state prison than the site selected. “It would be a lot less hassle,” said Brian Gage, the […]


Did State Treasurer meet the qualifications to run Nebraska’s public employees retirement agency?

By: - August 29, 2023

LINCOLN — The job posting to lead the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement Systems clearly states that “successful candidates will have an advanced degree….” But the person hired, State Treasurer John Murante, doesn’t have an advanced degree, let alone one in the fields described in the job posting: “business administration, public administration, finance/accounting or related field.” […]

NU college of la

NU College of Law to establish clinic to defend First Amendment rights

By: - August 28, 2023

LINCOLN — Journalists and the members of the public facing violations of they First Amendment rights will soon have somewhere else to turn. The University of Nebraska College of Law announced Monday that it was establishing a law clinic, staffed by law students and supervised by practicing attorneys, to take on cases involving free speech, […]


More than $30 million in claims certified against estate of deceased Lincoln businessman

By: - August 26, 2023

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to correct the amount of return to banks based on assets obtained so far. LINCOLN — Nearly 10 months after Lincoln businessman Aaron Marshbanks was found dead under suspicious circumstances, some things are becoming clearer in what is perhaps the largest bank fraud case in state history. Over the […]

Pillen allows hotter water discharges from power plants due to ‘extreme’ demand, thanks feds for increasing payments on cattle losses

By: - August 25, 2023

LINCOLN — Gov. Jim Pillen signed an emergency order Friday allowing power plants, facing higher demands due to this week’s heat wave, to discharge hotter water from their facilities. Pillen, in a press release, said the order allows power plants to “safely” exceed temperature limits, while allowing utilities to meet “extreme” demands for power. The […]

Nebraska State Auditor to explore $3 million grant for Red Way airlines, which is quitting service at Lincoln Airport

By: - August 25, 2023

LINCOLN — Citing concerns expressed to his office, State Auditor Mike Foley said his office will explore a $3 million grant given to a airline that is soon quitting service at the Lincoln Airport. Foley, in a letter to the Lincoln Airport Authority on Friday, said his office had fielded concerns about the large outlay […]

Nebraska State Patrol recruits

Officials still unsure on changing drug-use standards for police recruits

By: - August 25, 2023

LINCOLN — A law enforcement panel is still considering whether to adjust its drug-use standards for new recruits after Gov. Jim Pillen recently rejected a proposal to relax them. But one thing is clear — statistics sought by the governor aren’t available to indicate how many potential recruits are deterred by the current standards: no […]

Lancaster County court

Former History Nebraska director asks for preliminary hearing over felony theft charge

By: - August 24, 2023

Editor’s note: this story has been updated to include information about hiring a new director. LINCOLN — The former director of History Nebraska, facing up to 20 years in prison on a felony theft charge, has asked for a preliminary hearing to substantiate the allegation. Trevor Jones appeared via Zoom from an undisclosed location for […]

Nebraska Environmental Trust

State Environmental Trust, facing a decline in grant applications, sets educational sessions

By: - August 23, 2023

LINCOLN — Facing a decline in grant applications, the Nebraska Environmental Trust has scheduled three question-and-answer sessions beginning Friday about its grant process. The director of the Trust said the sessions are about the agency’s “ongoing process improvement effort” and not about increasing grant applications The Trust has faced criticism in recent years, however, for a […]