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 Secretary of State pushes back against claims that 2020 vote was amiss

By: - February 6, 2022

LINCOLN — Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen, in a PowerPoint presentation sent Saturday to all 49 state senators, is pushing back against contentions of election fraud and irregularities during the 2020 election. The PowerPoint, entitled, “Fake vs. Fact,” rejects, one by one, allegations made by a group claiming to seek “accuracy” in elections. The […]

‘Modern,’ $375 million soybean crushing plant planned near Norfolk

By: - February 5, 2022

NORFOLK, Nebraska — A $375-million soybean crushing plant is planned near this northeast Nebraska city. The plant, planned by Norfolk Crush LLC, will be the “first modern soybean processing plant” in the state, according to a news release issued Friday. Fifty to 55 jobs would be created, and 38.5 million bushels of soybeans would be […]

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

Fortenberry attorneys seek to allow expert witness on ‘cognitive aging’ to testify

By: - February 4, 2022

Defense attorneys for indicted U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry are seeking to call an expert on memory to testify that the 60-year-old congressman didn’t recall the origin of some 2016 campaign contributions because of his age and because of “repetitive” questioning by federal agents. In court filings Thursday, prosecutors and Fortenberry’s attorneys also spatted over whether […]

Nebraska State Penitentiary

$270 million prison proposal runs into tough questions and calls for alternatives

By: - February 3, 2022

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts’ proposal to build a new, $270 million prison to replace the aging State Penitentiary ran into some tough questions Thursday from a legislative committee. State Sen. John Stinner of Gering, chairman of the legislative committee that writes the state budget, led the criticism, saying the state has increased prison spending […]

Floor of the Nebraska Legislature

Proposal panned to inject political party affiliation into voting on legislative races

By: - February 3, 2022

LINCOLN — If public testimony is any guide, a proposal to label candidates for the Nebraska Legislature by their party affiliation isn’t likely to make its way onto the 2022 ballot. A long line of people, including four former state senators, testified against the idea Thursday, saying it would make the state’s unique, nonpartisan Unicameral […]

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

Prosecutors slam Fortenberry’s request to move trial as ‘forum shopping’

By: - February 3, 2022

Federal prosecutors are slamming a request by U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry to move his criminal trial from California to Nebraska as jury shopping and an attempt to claim privilege as an elected official. “He presumes that his privilege and status as a U.S. Congressman entitle him to special treatment to move his trial … to […]

Legislative hearing on ballot boxes turns into complaint session about 2020 elections

By: - February 3, 2022

LINCOLN — A public hearing on a bill to improve security of ballot drop boxes on Wednesday turned into a forum for alleging irregularities about the conduct of the 2020 elections. Despite assurances from state senators and one of the state’s top election officials that all allegations of fraud had been thoroughly investigated and dismissed, […]

Cowboy Trail at Long Pine, NE

Legislators urged to invest in completing recreation trails across Nebraska

By: - February 3, 2022

LINCOLN — Nebraska should capitalize on plentiful state and local funds by completing two major hike-bike trails that cross the state, a panel of state lawmakers were told Tuesday. State Sen. Robert Hilkemann of Omaha, an avid biker who’s pedaled across the U.S., said that $18 million would be required to finish the Mo-Pac Trail […]

Mitts off in 1st District GOP congressional race with new attack ads

By: - February 2, 2022

Republican candidates in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District primary race traded sharp political attacks in new campaign ads launched Wednesday. U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry charged in a radio ad that his main rival, State Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, shares the same views on immigration as President Joe Biden, a Democrat the ad blames for a […]

Ferguson House

Pricey move from historic mansion draws fire as ‘not sound business’

By: - February 2, 2022

LINCOLN — A  historic, state-owned mansion across the street from the State Capitol may soon be empty and looking for a new tenant. The proposal by the Nebraska Environmental Trust to move out of the 111-year-old Ferguson House is already catching some criticism because it would likely cost tens of thousands of dollars more. Currently, […]

Helping pay off college debts touted in reducing teacher burnout, staff shortages

By: - February 2, 2022

LINCOLN — Early retirements, teacher burnout and fewer students entering teachers colleges: All are combining to create an unprecedented shortage of educators in Nebraska schools, a state legislative committee was told Tuesday.  “I have never seen the level of teacher shortages that schools are now facing,” said Carri Collins, who supervises principals in the Omaha […]

State moves to make new tax credit easier for taxpayers to claim

By: - February 1, 2022

LINCOLN — A state tax official said Tuesday that Nebraskans should find it easier this year to claim a new and growing state tax credit — one that many taxpayers didn’t claim last year.  About $78.5 million out of the $125 million in credits available through Legislative Bill 1107 had been claimed by property owners […]