Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse, KPLU’s and N3’s Regional Correspondent, roves the Northwest to report on broad themes and telling details. His topics run the gamut from business to the environment and human interest. Home base is in Olympia, a legacy of a previously held state government beat from 1991-2003. Although he grew up in Seattle, Tom's radio career began by chance in Minnesota at Carleton College’s student radio station. Tom's memorable moment in public radio: "I am indebted to many people for tips and tutelage, but certainly some of the bluntest -- at times unprintable -- guidance came from NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg. I interned at NPR in 1989 and was privileged to keep Nina's chair warm at the U-S Supreme Court or at the high-octane Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North, wherever she wasn't at the time. Heady stuff for a tenderfoot reporter."

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Wildfire Danger
2:08 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Washington Evacuees Have Dealt With Fires Before, But ‘Not Like This’

Flames shoot from behind a house during a wildfire Friday, July 18, 2014, near Pateros, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says 1,000 National Guard troops will take a crash course in wildfire fighting so they can be deployed to central Washington fires. A blaze in Okanogan County that the governor calls a “firestorm” has destroyed around 100 homes.

Inslee says the troops are currently in Yakima for annual training.

"We're lucky, because they are on duty and in a place they can be trained. So we are going to bring trainers from the Department of Natural Resources to train them as rapidly as possible to be available — not just now, but for the rest of the summer," he said. 

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Wildlife
10:00 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Feds To Remove Fewer Wild Horses From Western Rangelands This Year

This file photo shows the August 2010 Wild Horse Gather by the Bureau of Land Management at the Stinkingwater Herd Management Area near Burns, Oregon.
Bureau of Land Management

The federal Bureau of Land Management plans to capture and remove fewer wild horses from Western rangelands this summer. An agency statement blames budget constraints and already-full holding pens.

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Women's World Cup
2:08 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Want More World Cup? 2015 Women's Final To Be Held In Vancouver, B.C.

United States goalkeeper Hope Solo celebrates with teammates after winning the gold medal match against Japan at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in London.
Andrew Medichini AP Photo

Organizers of the next FIFA Women's World Cup hope to leverage the unusually high interest in this year's men's tournament in Brazil to their benefit. Group play and the 2015 World Cup final will take place just across the border in Vancouver, Canada.

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Fighting Wildfires
11:36 am
Mon July 14, 2014

How Do Wildland Firefighters Cope With Triple-Digit Heat?

A portable, temporary air monitor was placed on the roof of the high school in Entiat, Washington and has been collecting samples since Thursday. Note the ground-hugging wildfire smoke in background.
Courtesy of Chelan County Emergency Management

Crews battling wildfires in eastern Washington and southeastern Oregon are dealing with sizzling hot temperatures of a heat wave.

Firefighters are gaining ground this weekend despite the wilting heat. Four of the five largest fires are nearly 100 percent contained.

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Timberland
9:59 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Grays Harbor County Tries Tax Gambit To Stop Weyerhaeuser's Recreation Fees

Vandalism and illegal dumping like this on the St. Helens Tree Farm was a key reason for the new access policy, says Weyerhaeuser.
Photo provided by Weyerhaeuser.

A coastal Northwest county is the first to strike back against pricey recreation permits now being required by some large timber companies. The Grays Harbor County commission voted unanimously Monday to take a tax deferral away from private timberland owners that charge for public access.

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Federal Funding
2:14 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Feds Warn States Of Possible Highway Cash Holdback

This file photo shows construction along Interstate 90 near Roslyn, Washington during the summer of 2012.
Washington State Department of Transportation

Washington and Oregon may follow Idaho’s lead in temporarily suspending advertising for bids for some highway projects.

Idaho’s decision is the result of a standoff in Congress over how to replenish the money in the pot for highway construction.  

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Native Tribes
4:40 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Proposed Changes To Tribal Recognition Hold Both Promise And Pitfalls

FILE - Squamish tribal member Dennis Joseph asks permission from his canoe to land at Birch Bay, Wash., in a ceremonial landing there July 25, 2009.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs wants to rewrite the rules that determine how a tribe becomes officially recognized in the eyes of the feds. The proposal raises hopes for status and federal benefits among some unrecognized tribes in the West.

The bid to streamline and simplify the process of tribal recognition encourages leaders of native groups and bands currently frozen out of federal programs. But they have to contend with existing tribes who fear having to share territory, resources or casino customers.

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
3:49 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Wash. State Task Force Starts Work On New Drone Regulations

In this undated photo provided by AeroVironment, a man hand-launches a Puma drone aricraft.
AeroVironment AP Photo

Imagine looking out your window to see a drone hovering outside. That happened earlier this month to a partially-dressed Seattle women who was startled and outraged.

That incident came up Monday as a Washington state task force convened for the first time to develop privacy rules for drones — something Oregon and Idaho have already done. The task force quickly narrowed its focus to use of drones by government agencies.

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Crime Rates
2:52 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Spokane, Seattle Among U.S. Auto Theft Hot Spots

Graphic based on ranking by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Kevin Mooney

In what Northwest city is your car most likely to be stolen? According to a new insurance industry report, the answer is Spokane, Washington.

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Supreme Court
6:16 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Yakima Labor Dispute Leads To U.S. High Court's Presidential Powers Ruling

File image
UpstateNYer Flickr

In a noteworthy decision issued Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the president's power to make recess appointments when the Senate is not in session. 

The unanimous decision held that three appointments President Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012 were invalid because the Senate was not technically in recess. The ruling stemmed from a labor dispute in Yakima, Washington.

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Constitutional Rights
4:22 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Federal Judge In Portland Orders Changes To No-Fly List

FILE - This May 11, 2012 file photo shows Portland Imam Mohamed Sheikh Abdirahman Kariye.
Rick Bowmer AP Photo

A federal judge in Portland on Tuesday ordered the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to come up with new rules for the government's no-fly list. The court found travelers labeled as potential terrorists had been deprived of their constitutional rights to due process.

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Jobless Rate
1:34 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Wash. Job Growth Slowed, But Unemployment Rate Holding Steady

FILE - In this March 1, 2011 photo, Mariam Bario, recently relocated to Seattle from Kenya, fills out an application with others at a job fair, in SeaTac, Washington.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

The unemployment rate in Washington state is holding steady at 6.1 percent, according to the latest numbers released Wednesday by the state Employment Department.

State labor economist Paul Turek says the pace of job gains slowed down in the month of May, but Washington is still on course to record the strongest year of employment growth since the Great Recession.

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Business
10:27 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Delta's New Seattle Hub Could Lead To Lower Airfares

Port of Seattle fire trucks salute a Delta Airbus A330 as it departs for Hong Kong on Monday.
Courtesy of Port of Seattle

Can two airlines be partners and rivals at the same time? Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines are long-term contractual allies. But now the relationship is being tested.

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Timberland
11:59 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Weyerhaeuser Charging Big Bucks For Access To Big Bucks, Outdoor Fun

Vandalism and illegal dumping like this on the St. Helens Tree Farm was a key reason for the new access policy, says Weyerhaeuser.
Photo provided by Weyerhaeuser.

Timber giant Weyerhaeuser is joining the pay-to-play and pay-to-hunt trend. This week, the largest private forestland owner in Washington and Oregon will begin selling seasonal access permits to hunters, horse riders, hikers and other recreators.

The Washington state-based company is not the first to charge access fees. But the breadth and high prices it will charge are generating more push back than before.

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Cyber-Currency
10:16 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Expedia Begins Accepting Bitcoin For Hotel Bookings

FILE - This April 3, 2013 file photo shows bitcoin tokens in Sandy, Utah.
Rick Bowmer AP Photo

Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia just announced it will start accepting bitcoin for hotel bookings. The online travel site is embracing the volatile, virtual currency on what it calls a "test-and-learn" basis.

Effective as of Wednesday, the digital currency will be a payment option, but only for hotel bookings on the company's U.S. site. 

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