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.

Ways to Connect

A new tsunami survival option has come to the Pacific Northwest coast. It involves climbing into a spherical aluminum pod for what is sure to be the ride of your life.

A 32-year career at Boeing comes to a close in April for engineer Dave Baine of suburban Seattle. Baine was already prepared to retire when Boeing sealed the deal by making him a buyout offer last week.

"It's better than a gold watch," he says. The deal is six months' pay in a lump sum and extended health insurance.

"It'll help the younger folks that want to stick around and help some of the older folks exit quickly and quietly," he says.

The Boeing Company's CEO Tuesday had a second face-to-face meeting with President-elect Donald Trump to talk jet prices. Boeing's Dennis Muilenburg said they discussed a multi-billion dollar contract to replace the aging Air Force One jumbo jets and about new fighter jets for the military.

Washington state is playing catch-up compared to other West Coast states on earthquake preparedness. A "subcabinet" of state agency directors convened by Gov. Jay Inslee will hold its first public meeting Tuesday afternoon to review possible actions to improve.

A bipartisan group of Washington state politicians Monday endorsed the abolishment of the death penalty. The group included the current Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his Republican predecessor Rob McKenna.

The pair were flanked at a capitol news conference by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and a half-dozen senators and representatives from both parties.

The Consumer Technology Association estimates about 1.2 million drones were sold during the just-completed holiday shopping season. Now one state lawmaker from western Washington wants to give you the legal right to tell a drone operator to buzz off.

Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

A delegation of civic and business leaders from Washington state and California landed in Cuba this afternoon . Their arrival coincides with Alaska Airlines' launch of daily scheduled service from Seattle via Los Angeles to Havana.

Alaska Airlines launches a daily flight Thursday morning from the West Coast to Havana. The new service comes as the Obama administration's opening to Cuba gives way to an uncertain future.

A Nativity scene that appeared without fanfare at the Washington State Capitol early this week has now drawn protest. An atheist/agnostic group installed a counter display Friday on the public Capitol Grounds.

Uber and Lyft are gradually expanding their coverage in the Pacific Northwest beyond the major metro areas. Uber launched its smartphone ride-booking service in Kennewick and Yakima, Washington, last week and similar-sized Oregon cities may get their shot in 2017.

Unlucky crewmembers stranded on two big container ships of the bankrupt Hanjin line won't be home for Christmas, but that didn't mean the Christmas spirit bypassed them this week. The ships are being held indefinitely in the vicinity of Victoria at the behest of creditors.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has closed the deal to take over West Coast rival Virgin America. The combined carrier will become the nation's fifth-largest airline.

Long Beach, Washington, has an earthquake and tsunami preparedness problem shared with some other low-lying coastal Northwest places such as Seaside, Oregon, and Ocean Shores, Washington. Many townspeople and visitors likely couldn’t reach high ground in time to escape a tsunami.

Researchers at Washington State University in Spokane have analyzed well over 100 police deadly force encounters captured on dash cam video or observed in a simulator. That academic research has now turned in a “counter bias” training program.

A survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor who now lives in Lincoln City, Oregon, has vivid memories of the surprise strike on the Pacific Fleet that pushed the U.S. into World War II. Ed Johann, then a 17-year-old apprentice seaman, was crewing a hospital ship's water taxi when the first fighter bombers came over the horizon.

As museums and historians polish exhibits and remembrance programs for the 75th anniversary on Wednesday, Johann recalled the attack that killed more than 2,300 U.S. servicemen.

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.

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