Tom Banse

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. During the early 1990s, he worked in the Seattle bureau of United Press International. 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. In 1996, he spent two months reporting from Bonn and Berlin, Germany on an Arthur F. Burns Fellowship. In 1999, he traversed the globe to cover the Pacific Rim (Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan) on a Jefferson Fellowship.

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.

A U.S. bankruptcy judge Tuesday approved the sale of the profitable core of the Haggen grocery chain to rival Albertsons. That brings to a close the dismantling of the Washington-based company.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has scheduled a press conference Monday morning to give his take on the legislative session that just ended. At the top of the list of topics is whether the governor might take executive action to expand Medicaid under a provision of Obamacare.

The Idaho Legislature has wrapped up for the year without doing anything to address 2016’s highest profile issue: expanding health care coverage for Idaho’s working poor.

The share of Oregonians and Washingtonians without health insurance has dropped dramatically under Obamacare. The uninsured rate is now at a historic low in the West Coast states.

Idaho has missed out on that trend, largely because the state until now has refused to expand Medicaid eligibility on the federal dime. Idaho's Republican-controlled legislature was teetering Friday on whether to end its holdout.

Idaho will remain among the 19 states resisting a key provision of Obamacare. The Idaho Legislature adjourned Friday without agreement on whether to explore an expansion of the Medicaid program.

As the Idaho Legislature lurches to a conclusion of its 2016 session, Idaho lawmakers and some school groups are declaring schools a winner.

Idaho has become the 25th state to authorize terminally-ill patients to request unapproved, investigational drugs and treatments. The concept -- also new in Oregon -- has come to be known as the “Right to Try.”

Idaho cities, counties and local voters will not have the option to approve increases in the minimum wage in the absence of action at the state level. A legislative measure to block local minimum wage increases became law Tuesday.

Idaho lawmakers said amen for public school teachers to use the Bible in classrooms. The Idaho House voted 54-15 Monday to allow religious texts, including the Bible, to be used for reference purposes.

Across the West, groundwater reserves are being depleted. Nature can’t replenish the aquifers as quickly as they’re being drawn down for irrigation, industry and drinking water.

This winter, the Idaho Legislature has considered a range of what are sometimes called "message bills," introduced to convey dissatisfaction with how federal agencies are managing public lands. But the latest proposal from one conservative lawmaker went too far even for the Republican majority in the statehouse. 

The Washington Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday morning about the legality of anti-tax activist Tim Eyman's latest voter-approved initiative.

Idaho counties could declare federal forestland within their borders to be a "catastrophic public nuisance" under a measure approved by an Idaho legislative committee Tuesday.

Three anti-government protesters from Idaho will stay behind bars for the time being. A fourth will have his status reviewed Thursday in Coeur d’Alene. This all stems from the armed confrontation near the Bundy Ranch in Nevada in 2014.

Sen. Ted Cruz won the Idaho Republican presidential primary. Cruz pulled in about 45 percent of the GOP vote Tuesday followed by businessman Donald Trump in a distant second place with 28 percent.

Idaho State Treasurer Ron Crane served as Ted Cruz’s honorary state chairman. Crane said Cruz’s values aligned with Idaho’s GOP electorate.

“He connected with Idahoans,” Crane said. “I think his visit to Idaho this last weekend was strategic. His timing was perfect.”

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