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Articles written by Paul Hammel


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  • Legislative gymnastics getting a tad elaborate to pass controversial bills

    Paul Hammel, Nebraska Press Association correspondent|Jul 10, 2024

    “When there’s a will, there’s a way.” That was a phrase that surfaced regularly at the end of state legislative sessions. It referred to the hope that bills that appeared dead might be resurrected. Somehow, someway – like the zombie in a horror movie that would never die – some of those bills came back to life and were passed. Again, when there’s a will, there’s a way. That was the case at the end of the tumultuous 2023 session of the Nebraska Legislature, when filibusters were a daily routine...

  • Latest trial balloon from Pillen on property taxes calls for state takeover of funding

    Paul Hammel, Nebrask Press Association Correspondent|Jul 3, 2024

    Back in the day, a small, "trial balloon" would be sent aloft to discern wind speed and direction before a balloon carrying people was launched. Folks were rightly concerned about rising into the heavens blindly, without knowing if a catastrophic whirlwind was aloft. Right now, we're seeing plenty of trial balloons sent aloft by Gov. Jim Pillen to determine if a plan to dramatically reduce local property taxes might have a shot at success during his special session, scheduled to start July 25....

  • Hope replaces homelessness on streets of Whiteclay after beer stores closed

    Paul Hammel, Nebraska Press Association Correspondent|Jun 26, 2024

    Over nearly 20 years, I lost track of how many times I was required to drive to Whiteclay to report on a protest about the beer stores there. Those four stores sold up to 3.5 million cans of beer a year and were the liquor stores of choice for the adjacent Pine Ridge Indian Reservation right across the Nebraska-South Dakota border. Alcoholism is a horrible problem on the reservation – which annually ranks as one of the poorest areas in the country – even though alcohol sales and possession are...

  • Many have tried, few have succeeded in eliminating tax exemptions

    Paul Hammel, Nebraska Press Association Correspondent|Jun 19, 2024

    Many have tried, and few have succeeded in expanding the state’s sales tax base by taxing things now exempt from taxation. But that is where Gov. Jim Pillen is venturing in his pursuit of property tax relief. His initial plan, which failed to win approval in the state Legislature this spring, would have imposed new taxes on a host of items that could be labeled “low-hanging fruit.” I mean who’s going to get upset if we start imposing taxes on edibles infused with hemp, those slot machine...

  • All things Nebraska

    Paul Hammel, Nebraska Press Association Correspondent|Jun 12, 2024

    Have you been to the grocery store or courthouse lately and been approached in the parking lot by not one, but two people seeking signatures on initiative petitions concerning abortion rights? Confused? You’re not alone. For what appears to be the first time in history, Nebraskans are being asked to sign not one, not two, but three petitions seeking to determine if and when a woman can have an abortion. And, according to Secretary of State Bob Evnen, if more than one petition makes the ballot, t...

  • Pillen still plugging for property tax relief, despite defeat of initial plan

    Paul Hammel, Nebraska Press Association correspondent|Jun 5, 2024

    Let's face it, Nebraska has high property taxes, the seventh highest in the country according to the Tax Foundation, which tracks such things. "Lots of land, not a lot of people," has always been the catchphrase, which translates into a higher burden of property taxes. But I almost fell out of my chair when Gov. Jim Pillen proposed, initially, to raise the state's sales taxes by two cents to achieve property tax relief. Never did I imagine that a conservative Republican governor would propose a...

  • New Memorial Stadium upgrades may lead to premium pricing

    Paul Hammel, Nebraska Press Association Correspondent|May 29, 2024

    One of the great, unsolved mysteries in the state has been why the beloved Trev Alberts left his alma mater to become athletic director at Texas A&M. Alberts was an All-American football player at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, then eventually became athletic director at the school after a successful stint at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Seemed like a match made in heaven, and a job Alberts would hold for many years. But then, suddenly, it was over, and Alberts was trading Husker...

  • All things Nebraska

    Paul Hammel|May 22, 2024

    Welcome to a new corner of your newspaper. For years, this column has been called "Capitol View" and for the past several years, it's been written by J.L. Schmidt, an old buddy and former Associated Press reporter at the Lincoln Bureau who could turn a phrase or two. Before that, it was written by someone named "Melvin Paul," who was really a long line of statehouse reporters (including me) who penned a weekly missive using the nom de plume about happenings from the "Hall of Hot Winds," an old...

  • New license plate evokes creative use of state's natural resources

    Paul Hammel, Nebraska Examiner|Jun 2, 2022

    A mosaic depicting a Roman chariot driver with flowing hair and ripped muscles was unveiled Tuesday as the background for the new state license plate, to be issued in 2023. First Lady Susanne Shore, who led development of the new plate, joined her husband, Gov. Pete Ricketts, and others in saying the mosaic, which is the first one visitors see on tours of the State Capitol, will show Nebraska as more than cattle, windmills and sunsets — the traditional icons used on state plates. “It’s a great...