Tom Banse | KUOW News and Information

Tom Banse

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

Immigrant rights march heads into downtown Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Supporters of immigrants and workers rights rallied through Seattle on Monday as part of the annual May Day demonstration.

Most of the rallies were peaceful, but as of Monday night Seattle Police said they arrested 5 people.

Listen to a wrap-up from the days rallies and protests:


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.

Washington state lawmakers sent a distracted driving crackdown to the governor's desk late Wednesday. And lawmakers in Oregon are steadily steering their own version of this through legislative committees.

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.

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