Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Before taking his current beat, Tom covered state government and the Washington Legislature for 12 years.  He got his start in radio at WCAL–FM, a public station in southern Minnesota. Reared in Seattle, Tom graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota with a degree in American Studies.

When not sifting through press releases, listening to lobbyists, or driving lonely highways, Tom enjoys exploring the Olympic Peninsula backcountry and cooking dinner with his wife and friends. Tom's secret ambition is to take six months off work and travel to a faraway place beyond the reach of email.

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Evergreen State College President George Bridges said he'll be seeking state assistance to add more training, equipment and staff for campus security. Student unrest and outside threats caused repeated disruptions during the recently ended spring term on the Olympia campus.

Law enforcement prepared for protesters and counterprotesters on the Evergreen State College campus in Olympia, Washington, Thursday afternoon—the day before this year's graduation ceremony.

If you give blood, usually it goes into a plastic bag in a fridge until someone needs it. But when you’re deep in the countryside or tundra or out at sea, there’s no hospital—and no blood bank.

Now that it's legal in Washington state, a handful of farmers and the Colville tribe have submitted applications to grow industrial hemp. On Tuesday, Moses Lake will be the scene of a "first planting" demonstration of the non-drug cousin of marijuana.

Friday classes have been canceled at The Evergreen State College, making for two days of missed education after the campus near Olympia was abruptly closed and swarmed by police due to a telephoned threat.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday ordered a second 30-day overtime session of the state legislature. It began immediately after the adjournment of the first special session.

Consumers who thought they were doing the right thing by buying rooftop solar systems made by a Pacific Northwest company called Silicon Energy are in a pickle. Many of those solar panels have now been labeled defective and a fire risk.

The majority of Washingtonians with a regular driver's license will have an interesting choice to make the next time they renew—a choice possibly coming to Oregon too. Continue with the same old license they have grown accustomed to or apply for a so-called "enhanced driver license."

A crowd of women in pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts surrounded Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday morning as he signed a bill to improve access to birth control.

Vulnerability assessments by utilities and emergency planners along the U.S. West Coast suggest it could be weeks or a month or more before water service gets restored after a major earthquake - not to mention electricity, sewage treatment and fuel supply too. The social and economic disruption does not have to be that bad though, given adequate preparedness and investments in critical infrastructure as demonstrated in Japan.

A thorn in cross-border relations between the northwestern U.S. and Canada is going away. And therefore so too is one of the best protest mascots in recent history.

For more than a decade, a character named Mr. Floatie—a piece of poo wearing a sailor's cap—nagged greater Victoria's politicians and citizens in falsetto voice to stop dumping the capital region's raw sewage in shared border waters.

Public schools in Washington state would be encouraged—but not required—to hold at least one earthquake drill per year under a measure scheduled for Gov. Jay Inslee's signature Thursday.

The Chelan County Public Utility District Board of Commissioners is playing ball with Alcoa Corporation in hopes of bringing back hundreds of well-paid manufacturing jobs. Commissioners voted 4-0 to postpone a big charge the aluminum maker faced for idling its smelter near Wenatchee at the beginning of last year.

Public utility commissioners in Chelan County, Washington, take a high stakes vote Monday that could influence whether the aluminum industry and its well-paid, blue collar jobs make a comeback in the Pacific Northwest.

The state of Washington has taken delivery of its first longer-range electric cars as part of a plan to double its electric vehicle fleet. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee showed off one of them at a ceremony in Olympia Thursday.

Unionized pilots at Alaska Airlines and recently acquired Virgin America pulled off a virtual barrel roll Wednesday to get management's attention. The union complains that talks to combine both pilot groups under what they hope will be a more generous joint contract aren't moving fast enough.

A rare total eclipse of the sun will cross the U.S. on the morning of August 21, 2017. It starts on the Oregon coast and then sweeps east. In Oregon, all of the reservable public campsites and most hotels in the so-called "path of totality" were booked up long ago.

April is the traditional start of the whitewater rafting season. The hefty snowpack in the mountains this year is good news for commercial rafting companies and recreational enthusiasts across the West.

http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=2200&Year=2017

Lawmakers in Washington state, California and potentially Oregon are moving quickly to reimpose internet privacy rules repealed by Congress. President Donald Trump on Monday signed off on rolling back regulations that would have forbidden broadband service providers such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from selling your personal browsing data without your permission.

If you have trouble getting a good night's sleep, it could be in your DNA. A team led by Washington State University-Spokane researchers has discovered a gene that influences the quality of sleep across species.

After years of resistance, Washington and Oregon lawmakers are finally acknowledging they have to accept stricter federal driver’s license security standards. Both states appear to be settling on having two kinds of licenses.

Kobe beef is supposedly the finest steak in the world. It’s very hard to get -- and very expensive -- in the United States. But it's getting easier and easier these days to find more affordable “American style Kobe beef" or “American Wagyu” at your neighborhood steak house or upscale grocery.

The governors of Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska have written a joint letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking for forbearance with their marijuana policy experiments.

Alaska Airlines executives say the integration of former rival Virgin America is proceeding on track. Parent company Alaska Air Group updated Wall Street analysts on the merger at an "Investor Day" briefing in New York City Wednesday.

Big earthquakes happen infrequently enough in the Northwest that people can be lulled into complacency. That’s not the case in Japan.

Most large Japanese cities have at least one disaster training center, where people can learn in realistic simulators what to do in an earthquake, typhoon or fire. Leaders from the Pacific Northwest who have seen these centers say it’s a concept worth copying.

How do you dispose of an old totem pole? Fortunately, this is not a problem we regularly face. But a tall totem gifted by Seattle to its sister city in Japan renewed this question.

Who caught the last fish you bought for dinner? If it came from Pacific Northwest waters, the fisherman was very likely a man. Commercial fishing remains a male-dominated profession in the Northwest.

But research by Oregon State University and a federal agency shows evolution in women's roles in the industry.

The report cards are in and it's not pretty if you worry about how you'll fare after a magnitude 9 Cascadia megaquake and tsunami. Washington and Oregon's emergency management divisions have now published after-action reviews of last June's multi-state disaster drill called Cascadia Rising .

An Oregon agency is proposing two new earthquake proof buildings near the state Capitol in Salem to ensure government continuity after a Magnitude 9 offshore mega quake. The state buildings would have solar power and backup generators, independent water and sewage systems, and shock absorbers under the foundation.

The Federal Aviation Administration says reports of unsafe flying by civilian drones "have increased dramatically" over the past two years.

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