Author

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.

Floor of the Nebraska Legislature

Filibuster blocks bill to limit property tax increases by K-12 schools

By: - February 8, 2022

LINCOLN — A multi-day filibuster has blocked a bill that would have imposed new taxing limitations on K-12 schools. On a 28-21 vote, Legislative Bill 986 fell five votes short of halting the filibuster Tuesday and allowing a vote to advance the proposal from first-round debate. The bill, entitled the “School District Property Tax Limitation […]

Bill to give tax breaks to carbon capture facilities runs into opposition

By: - February 8, 2022

LINCOLN — A bill to ensure that Nebraska ethanol plants can qualify for state tax incentives for building carbon-capture facilities is running into opposition from a leading environmental group. The Bold Alliance, which includes Bold Nebraska, the group that led the fight against the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, testified last week against a proposal […]

cattle

Nebraska trade delegation heads to the Middle East; later trip planned to UK, Ireland

By: - February 7, 2022

LINCOLN — A delegation from Nebraska will depart this week for the Middle East in hopes of increasing the trade of Nebraska products such as beef, grain and center-pivot irrigation systems. And Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday that another trade mission will depart to the United Kingdom and Ireland this Aug. 20-28. That trip would […]

U.S. District Judge John Gerrard announces his retirement

By: - February 7, 2022

LINCOLN — U.S. District Judge John Gerrard has announced that he will transition to senior judge status by next year, creating a vacancy on the federal bench in Nebraska to be filled by President Joe Biden. Gerrard, in a letter Monday to the president, wrote that he will continue to “render substantial judicial service” because […]

State chamber weighs in on casinos, says let free market decide how many

By: - February 7, 2022

LINCOLN — A political heavyweight, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, is weighing in on the sticky issue of how many gambling casinos should be allowed in the state. In a 23-8 vote, the Nebraska Chamber’s board of directors voted Thursday to oppose any effort by state legislators to limit the number of casinos by geography. […]

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, […]