Brian Wallstin

Digital Journalist

Brian has more than 20 years of experience in journalism.  He has done in-depth investigative reporting for a variety of publications, including The Houston Press where he was a staff writer for more than eight years.  As Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri, he taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Journalism.  He has held several editorial positions, including four and a half years as City Editor for  the Columbia Missourian, and has been a contributor to NHPR.org, notably during the 2012 elections.    Brian has a B.J. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.  

Ways To Connect

Josh Rogers/NHPR

Sen. Andy Sanborn has called for New Hampshire's so-called "drug czar" to resign, two days before a legislative committee will decide whether to extend the official's contract.

The number of health insurers in New Hampshire shrank by one this morning with the news that the state’s two largest players, Anthem and Cigna, have agreed to merge in a deal worth more than $48 billion.

When it comes to 2016 presidential campaign spending in New Hampshire, there’s one clear winner so far: The state Democratic Party. 

Roughly 30 percent of total candidate spending in New Hampshire so far this year has gone to the state party, and it came as a single, $100,000 expense: Hillary Clinton’s purchase of the party’s so-called "voter file." 

Via the NH Rebellion on Facebook

As they make their way around the Granite State, the presidential contenders being met by potential voters frustrated with the political influence of wealthy donors.

NHPR’s digital reporter Brian Wallstin has been reporting on the issue of money in politics and where the candidates stand, and he’s here to talk about what he’s learned.

WMUR, New Hampshire's largest TV station, reversed itself last week and decided to sell ads to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.

  Here are five things we can tell you about the Rubio ad buy, based on the orders uploaded to WMUR’s public FCC file.

1. The first ad will air during the noon hour on December 1, during a broadcast of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” and the last during the noon hour on Primary Day, presumably February 9, 2016 - during a broadcast of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”

At campaign events, house parties and town hall meetings across the state, presidential contenders are being met by potential voters who want to know what they plan to do about the role of money in politics.

And the candidates aren’t shying away from the question.

Democrats have taken aim at Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling that struck down limits on independent expenditures by corporations and unions.

Beverly via Flickr CC

What are the limits on presidential campaign funding? Can I really spend whatever I want to help my candidate get elected?

Courtesy Emma Stein

In December 1999, six weeks before the 2000 New Hampshire primary, John Rauh watched as Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrat Bill Bradley met in Claremont to denounce the role of money in politics.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, expected to face a tough re-election battle next year, has received a $500,000 donation from a Republican entrepreneur who wants his party to confront climate change.

Jennifer Cochran / Flickr/Creative Commons

Amherst Public Works Director Bruce Berry was a happy man last spring when Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the first increase to the state’s gas tax in more than 20 years.

The legislation promised to double the money the state doles out to repair municipally owned bridges, from $6.8 million a year to $13.6 million. At the time, Amherst had three bridges “red-listed” as structurally deficient, including one on Manchester Road that had been closed for 18 months.

Punching Judy via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/3WYLgF

People who use heroin or other opioids will now be able to obtain a prescription for an emergency treatment that can reverse the effects of an overdose.

Nalaxone was previously only available to police officers and emergency medical providers trained in its use. On Tuesday, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a bill into law that removes Nalaxone – which is sold under the trade name Narcan - from the state’s list of controlled substances, making it available to drug users and the friends and family of people with a history of opioid abuse. 

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos via Flickr CC

A powerful synthetic opioid manufactured in illicit labs was the main driver of the record 325 drug-related deaths in New Hampshire last year.

Fentanyl is used to manage severe chronic and post-surgical pain. As a pharmaceutical, prescribed in lozenges or transdermal patches, it is 10 to 50 times more potent than morphine.

But, increasingly, a powdered form of the drug that is 200 to 2,000 times more potent is being mixed with heroin or passed off as heroin to unwitting users.

Isaias via Flickr CC

In 2000, a committee of researchers compiled nearly a century of knowledge on how children develop from birth to age five. The findings, published in a 600-page book titled From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development, covered everything from the long-standing debate over “nature vs. nurture” to the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience.

Getty Images

 

The rate of young adults in New Hampshire with substance-abuse problems is the highest in the country, even as the Granite State is the worst at providing treatment when they need it.

Research suggests that 7.4 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds in the Granite State abuse or are dependent on illicit drugs, more than in any other state.

At the same time, no state spends less on substance-abuse programs, with nearly nine percent of young adults who seek out addiction treatment forced to wait for it.

 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A panel that included the step-mother of a woman who died of a heroin overdose told a House committee Thursday that proposed cuts in substance-abuse programs will exacerbate the state’s alarming rise in drug-related deaths.

“Last year, it was 321,” said Tym Rourke, chair of the Governor’s Commission on Prevention, Treatment and Recovery. “Next year it could be 600 and the year after that, 800.”

File photos / NHPR

Update: The Republican-led House has rejected a short-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, increasing the likelihood of partial shutdown of U.S. anti-terror operations at midnight.

In a statement, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen urged House Speaker John Boehner to call a vote on a Senate bill that passed earlier today. "We cannot afford the consequences of an agency shutdown,” Shaheen said.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Is Gov. Maggie Hassan preparing to take on U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte in 2016? Hassan hasn’t said yet, but two national political groups that back Republicans seem convinced she is.

Crossroads GPS, a conservative non-profit founded by GOP operative and former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, released a radio ad Thursday attacking Hassan’s proposed budget. The 60-second spot comes a day after the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a web ad that ridicules Hassan’s proposal to hire a chief operating officer.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The owner of the state’s largest chain of pain clinics would be forced to forfeit his financial interest in the practice if legislation pending in the House becomes law.

House Bill 517 would require physicians who lose their licenses to practice to cut their ownership ties to any health-care facilities.

The lead sponsor, Republican Rep. Don Leeman of Rochester, said the bill is aimed at one of the state’s most visible medical practices: Dr. O’Connell’s Pain Care Centers, Inc.

Brian Wallstin for NHPR

Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a House bill to bring keno to New Hampshire bars and restaurants. Sponsors say the electronic game could raise some $8.5 million annually for education, while Gov. Maggie Hassan’s two-year budget projects $26 million in keno revenue.

NHPR’s digital journalist Brian Wallstin reported on keno legislation a year ago that died in the Senate, and he joins us now to give us an update on this year’s proposal.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Lawmakers took testimony Tuesday on a senate bill to change workers compensation payments. It's an issue that's come up before.

New Hampshire has high workers comp costs, twice the national average according to the Insurance Department, and making the system less expensive is a priority for lawmakers and the Governor.

Gov. Maggie Hassan issued the following the statement Sunday evening:

"As we continue our response to last week’s winter storm and another one approaches, state emergency management officials are working with utilities and local communities to make preparations and take every precaution to support local communities. The Emergency Operations Center will open tomorrow morning at eight a.m., and closely monitor the storm and provide updates as needed. I encourage all Granite Staters to plan ahead for the morning commute, to follow all traffic and safety alerts, and to drive safely.”

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Today, Governor Maggie Hassan begins her second term facing a far different political landscape than she faced two years ago. Scroll down for real-time updates from the Statehouse featuring news, tweets from NHPR reporters and photos by Allegra Boverman. Click through additional photos in the gallery above.

Visit the official inaugural committee website here. 

StopnLook via Flickr CC

A commission studying ways to reduce workers compensation costs in New Hampshire released its final report Friday, but did not go so far as to recommend a cap how much health providers can charge for the care of injured workers.

Instead, in the 38-page report, a majority of commission members recommends the panel continue its work for another year.

Marc Nozell via Flickr CC

Former state Rep. Kevin Avard upset Democrat incumbent Sen. Peggy Gilmour on Tuesday, adding at least one seat to the Republican’s majority in the New Hampshire Senate. 

Avard took 50.8 percent of the 21,335 ballots cast in the District 12 contest to beat Gilmour by 323 votes. The narrow margin gives Republicans a 14-10 majority in the Senate, with at least one race that was too close to call.

In District 7, Democratic incumbent Andrew Hosmer had a lead of about 100 votes over Republican challenger Kathy Lauer-Rago.

Marc Nozell via Flickr CC

Hoping to retain the GOP’s slim majority in the state Senate, if not build on it, the New Hampshire Republican State Committee has spent tens of thousands of dollars on an advertising push over the final weeks of the campaign.

The party has focused its spending on a handful of races that could determine who takes control of the state’s upper chamber, which Republicans now control 13-11.

The NHGOP has poured a total of roughly $72,000 into two rematches from 2012 that Republicans won by the slimmest of margins.

Sara Plourde

Spending on the New Hampshire Senate race cracked the $46 million mark this week to become the most expensive election campaign in Granite State history.

And to the surprise of no one, outside groups have far outspent the candidates: party organizations, political action committees, super PACS and other non-candidate groups have poured $28.7 million into the race, one of a handful of closely watched contests that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Brian Wallstin for NHPR

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was in New Hampshire Wednesday pushing for stronger gun laws.

Giffords was shot in the head during a campaign event in 2011, and is in the midst of a nine-state tour. She says strengthening gun laws would protect victims of domestic violence.

She made stops in Manchester and Concord on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Executive director Pia Carusone says keeping the state’s Congressional Democrats in office is critical to the organization’s cause.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Scott Brown has tried to make the New Hampshire Senate race about national security, illegal immigration and incumbent Jeanne Shaheen’s political fidelity to an unpopular president.

But the Republican candidate has spent a lot of time the past two weeks defending his somewhat ambiguous record on abortion rights. The issue boiled over Tuesday at a hastily organized “media availability” in Derry, where Brown was set to talk foreign policy with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla).

Taylor Quimby / NHPR

10:27 p.m.

For the third time, former Congressman Frank Guinta will face Carol Shea-Porter for New Hampshire's District 1 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Guinta won the Republican nomination in Tuesday's primary, taking 49 percent of the vote.

Dan Innis, former dean of the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire and co-owner of Portsmouth’s Ale House Inn, received 41 percent, while libertarian Brendan Kelly won 8 percent.

Scott Brown wasn't even an official candidate when he declined to agree to a "people's pledge" to limit the amount of outside spending in the New Hampshire Senate race.

Six months later, with Brown expected to win the Republican nomination in Tuesday’s primary, more than half of the $19.1 million spent on the New Hampshire race has come from outside groups.

Pages