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 State Capitol Building

Nebraska lawmakers overcome filibuster, pass ‘Convention of States’ resolution

By: - January 28, 2022

LINCOLN — Nebraska became the 17th state on Friday to pass a resolution calling for a “Convention of States” to draft proposed constitutional amendments to limit federal spending, impose term limits on U.S. senators and representatives and reduce the size of federal government. State Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings and 18 co-sponsors, all Republican, proposed […]

U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry talking to reporters in US Capitol

Fortenberry, Flood trade charges as 1st District race heats up

By: - January 28, 2022

The race for the Republican nomination in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District heated up Friday, with incumbent U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry attacking State Sen. Mike Flood as having a “history” of not following conservative principles, particularly on immigration issues. Flood, in a response from a campaign spokesman, later accused the congressman of “desperately lying” to divert […]

At-home covid test

State plans to distribute free, at-home COVID-19 tests, open up hospital beds

By: - January 28, 2022

LINCOLN — The state plans to distribute 200,000 free, at-home tests for COVID-19 and is working to open up more acute hospital beds in the state as a surge in coronavirus cases continues. The so-called “Hospital Decompression Program” would allow the move of up to 98 patients out of hospitals when they no longer require acute […]

Utilities decry proposal to appoint, rather than elect, board members

By: - January 27, 2022

LINCOLN — A proposal to have the governor appoint the majority of board members for the state’s two largest public utilities — instead of having them elected by voters — would “take the ‘public’ out of public power,” a legislative committee was told Thursday. “One of the founding principles of public power is that citizens […]

Nebraska State Penitentiary

Deja vu: Prosecutors and law enforcement again oppose some sentencing reforms

By: - January 27, 2022

LINCOLN — Just as they did in 2015, prosecutors and law enforcement officials are criticizing criminal sentencing reforms recommended to reduce Nebraska’s nation-leading prison overcrowding as going too far. While opponents said they support some steps, such as expansion of drug courts and increasing prison rehabilitation programs, they attacked suggestions to reduce  minimum sentences and […]

Meth is now Nebraska’s No. 1 drug threat, new enforcement coalition says

By: - January 26, 2022

Citing a surge in methamphetamine seizures, a coalition of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies announced Wednesday that they are joining together to fight what the called the state’s No. 1 drug threat. Seizures of meth grew by 293% in the last five years, according to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office. Seizures by law […]

Don Arp Jr., head of Nebraska Crime Commission

A half-dozen training officers still waiting for their July 2021 raises

By: - January 26, 2022

LINCOLN – Six instructors at the state’s Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island will soon get 13% raises — seven months after they were approved by state lawmakers. The case of the delayed salary increases came up Tuesday during a hearing before the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.  The committee’s chairman, State Sen. John Stinner of […]

Tom Riley, director of NE Natural Resources Dept.

Some question $500 million plan to resurrect irrigation canal on South Platte

By: - January 26, 2022

LINCOLN – People lined up at the State Capitol Tuesday to support proposals by Gov. Pete Ricketts to spend the state’s allocation of $1.04 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Mental health providers praised his idea of setting aside $40 million for new treatment facilities. Sports and arts groups supported the $100 million […]

Mutual of Omaha HQ headed for downtown Omaha library site

By: , and - January 25, 2022

Mutual of Omaha — a corporate icon that’s been planted in midtown Omaha for decades — is poised to build a new headquarters where the city’s downtown public library stands, according to sources familiar with the project. The relocation of the Fortune 500 company, now based at 33rd and Dodge Streets, answers part of the […]

Fortenberry’s attorneys ask to move trial to Nebraska

By: - January 25, 2022

 U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry is asking that his federal trial, for allegedly lying to federal agents, be moved from California to Nebraska.  In a request filed Monday, Fortenberry’s attorney said his trial could “go forward safely” in Nebraska, where federal trials are still being held. In California, trials have been suspended until the end of […]

Hastings brewpub

Craft brewers seek the ability to distribute their own beer

By: - January 25, 2022

HASTINGS, Nebraska — Right next door to Nathan Hoeft’s First Street Brewery is a restaurant that sells his golden brews on tap. But under Nebraska’s decades-old liquor laws, he can’t just haul kegs over to the eatery. They must be picked up by a beer distributor, located 25 miles away, who must dispatch a truck […]

Sens. Wendy DeBoer and John Stinner

Nursing homes, care centers say they face staffing crisis without higher pay

By: - January 25, 2022

LINCOLN — Words like “crisis,” “dire” and “desperate” were used Monday to describe the shortage of workers in the state’s nursing homes, as well as in programs serving the developmentally disabled. An advocate for senior care facilities said that their workforce is down 10% and that hiring replacements is getting harder because other entities, including […]