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.

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.

Legislative committee still divided over how many gambling casinos to allow

By: - February 28, 2022

LINCOLN — A state legislative committee remains divided over how many gambling casinos should be allowed in the state, and where they should be located, after a closed-door discussion Monday. The Legislature’s General Affairs Committee discussed amendments to a casino proposal that would, among other things, bar any new horse racetracks with casinos — known […]

Nebraska State Capitol Building

Nebraska Lottery officials want to sell tickets via vending machines

By: - February 28, 2022

LINCOLN — Facing increased competition from casino gambling, supporters of the Nebraska Lottery are seeking to utilize vending machines to maintain lottery ticket sales. A legislative committee was told Monday that Nebraska is one of only three states with state lotteries that don’t allow sales via vending machines. Allowing vending machines could increase sales by […]

Medigap testifiers

Couple urges closing gap in Medicare coverage for the disabled

By: - February 28, 2022

LINCOLN — Because of a gap in state law concerning Medicare, Steve Kay took a job in North Dakota — 600 miles from his home in North Platte — so his wife could have adequate coverage to treat her multiple sclerosis. Now, he and his wife, Jean, are calling on state lawmakers to close the […]

Floor of the Nebraska Legislature

Lawmakers advance bill to increase death benefits for first responders

By: - February 25, 2022

LINCOLN — Public safety officers killed in the line of duty would get a $250,000 check from the state, up from the current $50,000 death benefit, under a bill given initial approval Friday. Legislative Bill 717 advanced on a 32-6 vote, but only after some senators questioned whether the proposal was a “political move” during […]

Wind turbines in a corn field in Iowa

Should payments for electric services be used for political campaigns?

By: - February 25, 2022

LINCOLN — Kate High told state lawmakers Friday that when she pays her electric bill, she expects the money will be used to provide electricity, “not end up in the pockets of a politician.” “That’s not what it’s meant for,” High said.  She testified in support of a bill that would ban electrical cooperatives from […]

Fortenberry loses another round in court over charges he lied to feds

By: - February 25, 2022

LINCOLN — U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry has lost another round in court in his effort to stave off a criminal trial over allegations that he lied to federal investigators. U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Blumenfeld has denied his request to suppress statements he made to investigators during two interrogation sessions in 2019. During those sessions, […]

Nebraska State Capitol Building

Pros and cons of banning or restricting abortion aired in marathon public hearing

By: - February 24, 2022

LINCOLN — Abortion opponents and supporters of reproductive rights filled a State Capitol hearing room Thursday to voice often emotional opinions about three bills that would either ban or further restrict abortion rights. The proposals come as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that allowed […]

AltEn ethanol plant

Special legislative probe urged of environmental ‘crisis’ at AltEn plant

By: - February 24, 2022

LINCOLN – Ray Loftus figured he’d purchased his “dream home” when he bought an acreage with an old farmhouse just south of Mead, Nebraska. But after the ethanol plant just down the road started production in 2015, he noticed changes, like fewer bees, no rabbits and none of those Asian beetles so common in rural […]

State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan

Income tax cut bill moves forward, but critics want benefits for poor, middle class

By: - February 24, 2022

LINCOLN — A major proposal to cut state income tax rates and corporate income tax rates moved forward in the Nebraska Legislature Thursday, but only after its chief sponsor agreed to work on a compromise. Legislative Bill 939, introduced by State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, would reduce the state’s top income tax rate […]

AltEn ethanol plant

Seed corn companies sue troubled AltEn ethanol plant for damages

By: - February 23, 2022

LINCOLN — AltEn, which has operated a troubled Nebraska ethanol plant that used pesticide-coated seed corn to produce biofuel, is facing more legal trouble. On Tuesday, six seed corn companies that have been cleaning up the AtlEn ethanol plant site near Mead, Nebraska, filed two separate federal lawsuits seeking repayment for their work. One lawsuit […]

Blueprint Nebraska tax plan likely won’t be debated this year

By: - February 23, 2022

LINCOLN — A comprehensive reworking of state taxes, proposed by a coalition of business groups called Blueprint Nebraska, will probably have to wait another year to get off the ground. After a public hearing featuring the CEO of Union Pacific Railroad and representatives of the Nebraska and Omaha chambers of commerce, the State Legislature’s top […]

North Platte banker named to fill seat vacated by Sen. Groene

By: - February 23, 2022

LINCOLN — Gov. Pete Ricketts moved quickly to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of State Sen. Mike Groene of North Platte, naming a local banker to that post on Wednesday. Mike Jacobson, 68, is president, founder and CEO of NebraskaLand Bank in North Platte, growing that locally owned bank to $850 million in […]