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.  

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Sara Plourde

Gov. Maggie Hassan is expected to sign legislation making it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving or stopped in traffic.

The bill, passed by the New Hampshire House last week, represents “the most comprehensive distracted driving bill in the nation,” according to legislative testimony from Earl Sweeney, assistant commissioner of public safety.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Under the federal Clery Act, colleges and universities are required to report crime statistics. This chart measures total reported forcible sexual offenses involving students, on and off-campus, at each New Hampshire school.

The numbers are not adjusted to account for enrollment, which would allow for a better comparison. For example, with a 2012 undergraduate enrollment of 12,565, UNH sees 1.67 incidences per capita - while, with an enrollment of 6,277, Dartmouth sees 3.82 per capita.

Research suggests as many 95 percent of campus rapes and sexual assaults go unreported.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Susy Struble was a 16-year-old high school student when, during a weekend visit to Dartmouth College, she was raped at an off-campus party.

Like many rape victims, Struble chose not to tell anyone about the assault, and two years later, she was back at Dartmouth as a student.

One night during her freshman year, she opened her door to a tall, sandy-haired man. Obviously drunk, he forced his way in, pushed Struble against the wall and tried to kiss her. Struble was able to fend off her attacker, who she realized was the same man who had raped her two years earlier.

Update: The New Hampshire Republican State Committee has submitted a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, alleging the Shaheen campaign "engaged in coordinated political advocacy communications that amount to illegal contributions." 

Republicans are claiming the campaign of New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen broke federal election law by helping to craft a television ad paid for by a Democratic super PAC.

The latest television ad attacking Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., for her support of the Affordable Care Act features a statistic on premium increases in New Hampshire that's been widely disputed.

The 30-second spot, paid for by Americans for Prosperity, focuses primarily on the so-called narrow network of providers in New Hampshire, which excludes 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals.

via SEC.gov

State lawmakers are wading into the debate over the controversial new painkiller Zohydro.

A Senate committee will take up legislation Tuesday that would impose an 18-month moratorium on the new drug, an especially potent formulation of hydrocodone.

Zohydro hit the market in March and is aimed at patients who need long-term, around-the-clock pain relief. It differs from other hydrocodone-based medications, such as Vicodin, because it isn’t combined with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Gov. Maggie Hassan is expected to sign legislation making it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving or stopped in traffic.

The bill, passed by the New Hampshire House last week, represents “the most comprehensive distracted driving bill in the nation,” according to legislative testimony from Earl Sweeney, assistant commissioner of public safety.

SalFalko via Flickr CC

Casino supporters are betting that a plan to distribute more than $25 million in gambling revenue to New Hampshire cities and towns will convince House lawmakers to reverse their historic opposition to expanded gaming.

Less than a month after it killed a casino bill favored by Gov. Maggie Hassan, the House will begin discussion on Senate Bill 366, which proposes to authorize two casinos in the Granite State.

NHPR Staff

The state insurance department has postponed a hearing this week to consider a challenge to Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield's network of providers covered under the Affordable Care Act.

Margaret McCarthy, a patient of Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, has asked the department to require Anthem to include Frisbie in the network. 

NHPR Staff

As the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major campaign finance ruling Wednesday, a New Hampshire House committee heard testimony on a bill that would no longer allow some political groups to spend money on state elections without disclosing it to voters. 

The proposal, which cleared the Senate by a 19-4 vote February 6, would require any organization that spends more than $5,000 on so-called electioneering to filed detailed reports with the Secretary of State's office.

Sara Plourde

As Scott Brown crisscrosses New Hampshire on what his senate exploratory committee is calling a listening tour, he’s repeatedly said it’s “premature” to talk about how he’ll wage any future campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

On one point, though, Brown has already been crystal clear: He doesn’t want this race to be bound by a so-called people’s pledge, an idea Brown himself devised in 2012 to limit spending by outside groups during his race against Elizabeth Warren.

Flickr - Images of Money

Voters at town meetings across New Hampshire approved resolutions urging state lawmakers to join a nationwide effort to overturn Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down limits on political spending by corporations, labor unions and special interest groups.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 28 towns had approved petition warrants supporting campaign finance reform, including Exeter, Amherst, Salem, Deerfield, Hudson, Rindge and Windham.

www.rocka.net / Rockingham County Attorney's Office

The Attorney General's office has released its complaint for the removal of Rockingham County Attorney Jim Reams.  

Citing interviews with former employees of the Rockingham County Attorney's Office, the 25-page redacted complaint alleges numerous cases of sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, retaliation and misuse of county funds dating back 14 years. 

Jimmy Wayne via Flickr CC

Utah lawmakers have advanced a bill that would move the state’s presidential primary ahead of New Hampshire’s.

Legislation approved by the House Monday gives lawmakers the option of holding an online election, provided it is “held before any other caucus, primary, or other event selecting a nominee in the nation.”

If approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Gary Herbert, the bill, HB 410, would require the state to fund the Western State Primary, at an estimated cost of $1.6 million.

Republican Joe Kenney and Democrat Mike Cryans will face off in a special election March 11 to replace longtime District 1 Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who died in November.

A retired colonel in the United States Marine Corps, Kenney spent 14 years as a state legislator, in both the House and the Senate. He was the Republican nominee for governor in 2008 and lost to Democrat John Lynch. Kenney won a three-way Republican primary in January.

A bipartisan plan to expand Medicaid that is scheduled for a vote in the New Hampshire Senate this week has strong support from Granite Staters, according to a new poll.

New England College asked 774 registered voters if they would support a proposal backed by Gov. Maggie Hassan and a majority in the New Hampshire Senate “to extend private insurance to low-income residents, without passing the cost of coverage on to businesses.”

New Hampshire lawmakers are mulling two bills that would expand background checks for gun purchases.

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on legislation that would require private sellers to conduct sales through licensed firearm dealers who, under federal law, must perform background checks on prospective buyers.

Chris Jensen, NHPR News

Gov. Maggie Hassan will deliver her first State of the State address Thursday to a joint session of New Hampshire lawmakers.

Hassan ended her first year in office with decent job-approval ratings – 51 percent versus 21 percent who disapprove, according to a recent poll.

She begins her second with a heightened national profile: In December, she was elected vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association, which spent heavily to help her defeat GOP challenger Ovide Lamontagne in 2012.

Earlier this month, the New Hampshire House became the first legislative body in the United States to pass a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana use.

The legislation faces numerous – some would say intractable - hurdles, beginning with Thursday’s public hearing before the House Ways & Means Committee.

New Hampshire native and Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman will be among the guests sitting with first lady Michelle Obama during tonight’s State of the Union address.

Carlos Arredondo, a spectator who helped rush a badly injured Bauman from the scene of the April 15, 2013, attack, will also be among the more than two dozen people invited to join the first lady in her viewing box for the president's speech.

JV via Flickr CC

Update: The Senate Ways & Means Committee approved SB 366, 4-1, this morning. Sen. Bob Odell, R-Lempster, was the lone vote in opposition to the bill, which would license two casinos. Senate President Chuck Morse said the legislation will now move to the full Senate. Morse said the Senate will likely table it and wait for the House to act on its own gambling bill. That legislation, drafted by members of the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authorityenvisions a single casino, which Gov. Maggie Hassan supports.

Department of Safety Road Toll Bureau

A year after failing to agree on how to pay for a long list of road and bridge improvements, lawmakers will take another shot at bolstering the state’s chronically underfunded infrastructure this session.

Several bills are on the table, including one that would channel proceeds from a casino into the state’s highway fund.

Attacks by two psychiatric patients awaiting treatment at Manchester’s Elliot Hospital last year underscored the well-documented problems with New Hampshire’s mental health system.

In December, the state agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed in 2012 on behalf of six plaintiffs who had cycled in and out of emergency rooms and the state mental hospital. The state has agreed to spend $30 million over the next three years to re-build its community-based system of care, once considered a national model.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

On a recent afternoon at the Common Grounds Cafe, 200 yards from the New Hampshire border in Methuen, Mass, a handful of men sit along a short counter or at several tables in the back of the cafe.

Eyes moving back and forth from their pink and white betting slips to two wall-mounted video monitors, they wait for the next drawing of a popular electronic lottery game called Keno.

Legislation that would bring Keno to an estimated 250 bars and restaurants would, for the first time, establish a program to treat gambling addiction in New Hampshire.

An amendment to HB 485 would set aside 1 percent of the sales from Keno - about $435,000 - to the state Department of Health and Human Services for education, treatment and prevention services. William Butynski, D-Hindale, who proposed the amendment, says it’s time for lawmakers to recognize that even state-sponsored gambling such as the lottery can cause problems for a small percentage of people who play.

via USTR.gov

Jon Bresler was an early supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement. As owner of Suncook Woven Labels, a textile company whose customers included Ralph Lauren, The Gap and J.C. Penney, Bresler figured anything that would break down trade barriers between the United States, Mexico and Canada would be good for business.

More than 32,000 customers lost power Sunday as a cold front brought high winds to the state.

PSNH reported that more than 20,000 customers were still without power as of late Sunday afternoon. More than 8,300 customers of New Hampshire Electric Coop and 4,000 Unitil customers were also without power.

High winds also took down a Comcast line, blocking both northbound and southbound lanes of I-93, between Exits 15 and 16 in Concord. New Hampshire State police reported the highway was closed shortly after 2 p.m.  in Concord. 

Sara Plourde / NHPR

New Hampshire women had plenty to celebrate a year ago, when voters elected a woman to the corner office in Concord and sent the nation’s first all-female congressional delegation to Washington.

But while the state’s political leadership basked in the media attention, most New Hampshire women continued to struggle with unequal treatment on the job.

If you’ve been following the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in New Hampshire, you might be struggling to keep up with the twists and turns - from legislation passed in 2012 that barred creation of a state-run marketplace, to the thousands of letters Anthem Blue Cross mailed to policyholders this month, telling them their health plans did not meet the law’s coverage standards.

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