Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse covers business, environment, public policy, human interest and national news 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 heard 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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Home prices in the Seattle and Portland metro areas are rising faster than anywhere else in the country right now -- about twice as fast as the national average.

Many Oregon motels are sold out and reservable campsites are going fast for an event that doesn't happen until the second half of next year. If you don't want to miss a total solar eclipse, mark August 21, 2017 on your calendar.

Community uproar about police shootings around the country prompted Washington state lawmakers to review the use of deadly force. A task force they convened meets Monday in Olympia to adopt its final recommendations.

The state Fish and Wildlife departments in Washington and Oregon are seeking -- and getting -- help from hunters and hikers to track a perplexing epidemic. It's a hoof disease that causes heartbreaking scenes of limping or lame elk.

Washington state is moving toward a showdown like Oregon went through two years ago about issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. Washington legislators were warned Monday that current state Department of Licensing policy to not check for legal residency could lead to trouble for everyone at the airport in just over a year.

Even though party control isn't shifting at the Oregon State Capitol, there will be a lot of new faces. Nearly a quarter of Oregon House members decided not to seek re-election this year. But very few seats in the Oregon Legislature changed party hands during Tuesday's election.

Washington voters gave an overwhelming thumbs down Tuesday to a citizen initiative to impose a direct tax on carbon emissions. But that doesn't look to be the end of the story on regulating global warming pollution at the state level.

Washington state voters said "yes" to a higher minimum wage, said "no" to what would have been a history-making state carbon tax and rendered a split decision on several campaign finance reform ideas in Tuesday's general election.

Five Northwest ski resorts have changed hands in about the past month in a series of unrelated deals. The ownership of Stevens Pass and The Summit at Snoqualmie in the Washington Cascades and Cypress Mountain by West Vancouver changed in a 15-mountain transaction announced late Wednesday between a trio of holding companies back East.

Canadian residents generally can't vote in our election, but they can gamble on the outcome through several provincial lotteries. And the bets are piling up.

A vast pool of warmer-than-normal ocean water off of the West Coast continues to mess with our weather and sea life. It's nicknamed "The Blob.”

In Washington’s Tri-Cities, an attorney on the losing side of a gay wedding flowers case is now seeking to unseat the judge who ruled against her. Early last year, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom ruled that the owner of Arlene’s Flowers broke the law when she refused to sell flowers for a gay couple's wedding.

A short online post broke the story to viewers and readers that the regional all-news channel Northwest Cable News will air its last broadcast on January 6.

The Pacific Northwest is certainly known for its rain, but the amount of rain that has fallen in October is one for the record books in more than a dozen Northwest cities -- and counting.

Piloting a jetliner was once a glamorous profession. Then came the 9/11 terror attacks, airline bankruptcies and pension cuts. Entry-level pilots worked for peanuts.

But now the pendulum is swinging back. Regional airlines across America -- including the Northwest's Horizon Air -- are grappling with a looming pilot shortage.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden said he remains confident that a proposed takeover of rival Virgin America will happen. But he acknowledged to Wall Street analysts Thursday that he had been hoping the $2.6 billion deal would have closed “a couple of weeks ago.”

Washington state employers added 20,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis last month according to the latest numbers out Wednesday from the state’s Employment Security Department.

A hacked email from the Hillary Clinton campaign reveals some interesting names considered early on as possible Democratic vice presidential picks. The names released by Wikileaks Tuesday included Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Microsoft's Bill Gates and Melinda Gates.

Spokane-based Avista Utilities and Seattle City Light --perhaps soon to be joined by Oregon's two biggest electric utilities: Portland General Electric & Pacific Power -- are diving into a new line of business: charging up electric cars.

They have plans to buy and maintain significant numbers of electric car charging stations. These will be installed at homes, private workplaces and public locations.

www.sos.wa.gov

Washington state set a new one-day record for voter registrations Sunday, topping 23,000 in a single day. Monday is the last day Washingtonians can register online in time to vote in the November election. Tuesday is the deadline to postmark a mail-in voter registration card. True procrastinators can register in person at their county elections office until Halloween.

A startup company from North Idaho captivated donors and YouTube viewers worldwide a few years ago with its idea for turning roads and parking lots into solar farms. Now that far-out idea is available for public inspection for the first time.

Solar Roadways / https://www.facebook.com/solarroadways

This weekend Sandpoint, Idaho, celebrated the debut of a local start-up company's idea for "solar roadways." Ultimately, the entrepreneurs envision roads, sidewalks and parking lots doing double duty as power plants.

A group of natural gas utilities in Washington Friday filed the third legal challenge this week to new state limits on global warming pollution. The private utility companies Cascade Natural Gas, NW Natural, Avista and Puget Sound Energy filed the latest challenge in Thurston County Superior Court.

A food industry startup from Oregon is ready to sell you something completely different for your mid-morning snack. How about some roasted crickets in cayenne spice or original flavor?

Exporters are bracing for ocean freight price increases due to the collapse of Hanjin Shipping, one of the trans-Pacific lines serving the Northwest. Meanwhile, sailors and cargo are marooned on container ships in Northwest waters.

Researchers from the University of Washington and NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center found the opposite of what they expected when they used a new scientific method to sample the waters of Puget Sound.

Washington state policymakers wrestled for much of the day Monday whether and how to regulate self-driving cars. Until now, major automakers and technology companies have successfully convinced Northwest states to hold off so there aren't 50 states with differing standards.

A South Puget Sound city has joined the fray over athletes protesting during the national anthem. The mayor of DuPont, Washington, scrubbed a planned Seahawks pep rally Saturday ahead of the Seattle team's home opener.

FIONA MARTIN / NOAA CLIMATE.GOV

 

What kind of weather might the Northwest be in for this fall and winter? Federal forecasters at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center Thursday dropped their "La Niña Watch.”

Neither Oregon nor Washington are presidential election battleground states, so the region's TV viewers have been spared the attendant barrage of campaign commercials. But now the Libertarian presidential ticket is going on the air.

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