Tom Banse

Regional Reporter

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.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared Thursday that a weak and short-lived La Niña weather phenomenon is over.

Drivers and professional lobbyists for the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft are urging state lawmakers to replace what they call a "patchwork" of city regulations with uniform statewide rules for their industry. They testified in Olympia Wednesday that this would expand the availability of the smartphone-based ride-booking services.

Oregon and Washington state are teaming up to a get a share of a remediation fund created under a court case against Volkswagen for emissions fraud. The first grants to promote electric cars could come later this year.

The red-blue divide on immigration is on prominent display in the Northwest Monday. The state attorneys general of Washington state and Oregon are denouncing the Trump administration for its order limiting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Meanwhile, Idaho legislators took the first step to require local police to assist the federal government on immigration enforcement.

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.

This Friday's Presidential Inauguration festivities in Washington, DC, are drawing Donald Trump fans and foes alike from the Pacific Northwest. Large contingents from the area will be on the National Mall Friday and again on Saturday.

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.

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.

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.

After the results of the November election, more than half of U.S. states have now authorized medical marijuana. And eight of those states also allow recreational marijuana. So if pot helps some humans feel better, how about people's best friends?

Alaska Airlines management and workers received a lively, upbeat welcome on their rival’s home turf Wednesday when they flew to San Francisco to celebrate a merger closing. Alaska Air paid $2.6 billion to buy upstart Virgin America.

Now comes the hard work of integration.

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.

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.

TOM BANSE / NORTHWEST NEWS NETWORK

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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