Author

Paul Hammel

Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. 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.

Big lake proposal

Big lake, with $500M to $1B pricetag, gets a lot of love from state lawmakers

By: - March 9, 2022

LINCOLN — The proposal for a 4,000-acre sandpit lake between Omaha and Lincoln got a lot of love Wednesday from state legislators but also plenty of questions about how much public access would be allowed. State Sens. John Cavanagh and Steve Lathrop, both of Omaha, led the questioning. Cavanaugh told the Nebraska Examiner he was […]

Gun rights

Constitutional carry bill is pulled from committee, slated for floor debate Thursday

By: - March 8, 2022

LINCOLN — State lawmakers took action Tuesday to ensure a debate on a so-called “constitutional carry” bill that would allow Nebraskans to carry a concealed handgun without a state permit or background check. But an analysis of a vote taken Tuesday — to pull the proposal from a committee — indicates it will be close […]

Casino bill advances with ‘de facto’ moratorium on new ‘racinos’

By: - March 8, 2022

LINCOLN — Nebraska gambling enthusiasts would have to make do with only six casinos at existing horse racing tracks, at least initially, under a bill advanced Tuesday to debate by the full Legislature. Legislative Bill 876 was advanced by the Legislature’s General Affairs Committee on a 7-0 vote, with one member not voting, after weeks […]

Lincoln Regional Center

Senators decry the lack of mental health treatment options in Nebraska

By: - March 8, 2022

LINCOLN — A person with mental illness goes off prescribed medications, gets unruly, and law enforcement is called. Maybe the person takes a swing at the responding cop, resulting in a trip to jail and maybe a conviction that leads to prison. State Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha said he’s seen the above scenario play […]

Nebraska State Penitentiary

Governor, prison officials say staff applications have nearly tripled since salaries were raised

By: - March 7, 2022

LINCOLN — Significant pay raises for state correctional officers are paying dividends, Gov. Pete Ricketts and other officials said Monday. But the officials declined to predict when staffing “emergencies” — declared at three state prisons because of dire shortages of corrections staff — might end.  The state has seen applications for so-called protective services positions […]

Eviction notice and mask

Governor continues to see no justification to apply for rental assistance money

By: - March 7, 2022

LINCOLN — Despite a recent plea from key state senators, Gov. Pete Ricketts continued to say “no” Monday to applying for an additional $120 million in federal funds for utility and rent assistance. During a press conference, the conservative Republican was asked to respond to a letter sent last week by the members of the […]

Ukraine rally Lincoln March 5

Ukrainians in Nebraska worry for loved ones, dread what the future may bring

By: - March 6, 2022

LINCOLN — The message on Halyna Carbullido’s Facebook page says a lot:  “My morning doesn’t start with coffee any more. It starts with making sure my friends and relatives in Ukraine are still alive.” This is the world inhabited by Ukranians in America right now. They’re glued to the internet, to their cell phone, to […]

Sign protesting XL Keystone pipeline on a storefront in Polk, Nebraska

With CO2 pipelines planned, landowners call for additional state protections

By: - March 5, 2022

LINCOLN — With carbon dioxide pipelines planned across Nebraska, some landowners are asking the state to adopt additional protections for them when such pipelines are abandoned. Meanwhile, a recent Wall Street Journal article raised questions about whether carbon sequestration projects — which would be fed by the pipelines — can be done successfully. Some of […]

Whiteclay advocates

John Maisch, who fought to close notorious Whiteclay beer stores, has died

By: - March 4, 2022

LINCOLN — John Maisch, an Oklahoma attorney who became a key figure in the closing of the notorious beer stores in the Nebraska border village of Whiteclay, died unexpectedly Thursday. He was 51. Funeral services were pending Friday in Edmond, Oklahoma. Maisch, a former state liquor law prosecutor and a native of the Hastings area, […]

Alliance Recycling

Alliance recycling program among those questioning snubs for state environmental grants

By: - March 3, 2022

LINCOLN — For the past 10 years, the Alliance Recycling Center has been awarded grants by the Nebraska Environmental Trust, which doles out about $20 million a year in state lottery proceeds for environmental projects. On Thursday, the director of the Alliance recycling program made the seven-hour drive to Lincoln to find out why the […]

Sen. Steve Lathrop

Bill advances that seeks to ensure prison rehabilitation programs work and are available

By: - March 3, 2022

LINCOLN — The Nebraska prison system would get funding to test and verify the effectiveness of its rehabilitation programs under a bill given first-round approval Thursday by state lawmakers. Legislative Bill 896 would also help determine whether the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services is offering enough programs to turn inmate lives around. The advancement of […]

Evnen: ‘No credible evidence’ that vote-counting machines have been mistaken

By: - March 2, 2022

LINCOLN — Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen, in often emphatic terms, rejected allegations Wednesday that the state’s ballot-counting machines could be hacked by “foreign adversaries.” Evnen, testifying toward the end of an afternoon-long public hearing, said Nebraska’s ballot-counting machines are never connected to the internet and are designed so they cannot be connected to […]