Austin Jenkins

Olympia Correspondent

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia–based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. He regularly files stories for NPR News. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin was a freelance general assignment reporter at KING–TV, the NBC affiliate in Seattle. He also worked as a freelance education reporter for KPLU–FM, the Tacoma–based NPR station. Austin spent 2001 in Washington, D.C. as a Knight Foundation/American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. Austin has also worked as a television reporter in Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; and Bozeman, Montana. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and has a B.A. in Government from Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Over the years Austin has won numerous professional awards for his reporting. He lives in Olympia with his wife Jennifer Huntley and their two children.

Read Austin's blog, "The Washington Ledge: Dispatches From Olympia."

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Controversial Commentary
7:06 am
Wed July 30, 2014

NRA Lobbyist Comments Attract Controversy

NRA lobbyist Brian Judy, addressing Congress in 2013.
Credit eyeontheworld9 / YouTube

Supporters of a Washington gun control measure on the November ballot may have just gotten a mid-summer boost. They’re capitalizing on an audio recording that recently surfaced. They say it captures the NRA’s Northwest lobbyist mocking Jewish people who support stricter gun laws. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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Tesla Gigafactory
6:43 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Washington Secretly Competed For Tesla ‘Gigafactory’

A Tesla Model S.
Credit Daniel Piraino / Flickr

For the first time, we are learning that Washington competed to become the location for a massive battery factory for Tesla electric cars. State officials confirmed that Thursday even as reports are surfacing that Tesla has broken ground near Reno, Nevada. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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Juvenile Solitary Confinement
7:37 am
Thu July 24, 2014

Lawyers Fight To Move Accused 15-Year-Old Killer From Solitary Cell

An example of a solitary confinement cell.
Credit Chris Gray / Flickr

In north Idaho, a 15-year-old boy sits in an isolated jail cell awaiting trial for murder. Eldon Samuel III is accused of shooting to death his father and younger brother in March. Juveniles accused of crimes like this are automatically charged as adults in Idaho. But now, Samuel’s lawyer and the ACLU are trying to get him moved out of solitary confinement at the adult county jail. They say his isolation amounts to “cruel and unusual” punishment. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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Washington Midterms
6:36 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Nearly $33M So Far In Washington Mid-Term Elections

The House Chamber at the Washington state Capitol in Olympia
Credit Cacophony / Creative Commons

Washington’s August primary is less than a month away. It’s a midterm election year with no statewide offices on the ballot. Even so, already nearly $33 million has been contributed to campaigns. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins takes a look at who’s giving.

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Washington Clemency
7:08 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Long Sentences, Aging Inmates May Strain Washington’s Clemency System

Members of the public raise their hands in support of a commutation for a three-strikes offender at a recent meeting of Washington's Clemency and Pardons Board.
Credit Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In just a few years, Washington will need another 1,000 prison beds. There’s been talk of building a new state lock-up. But that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars at a time when the Supreme Court has said school funding must be the priority. So what’s the solution? Washington could release some older inmates who are serving long sentences. But lawmakers are wary of a political backlash and the state abolished parole in the 1980s. That leaves clemency as the remaining pressure-relief valve on the prison system. As Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports, that system of mercy may not be up to the task.

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Aviation Industry
4:44 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Moses Lake Selected As Test Flight Location For Mitsubishi Regional Jet

Japan-based Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has announced plans to test its new regional jet in Moses Lake, Washington.
Credit Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp

It won’t just be Boeing jetliners flying lumbering test patterns over Moses Lake, Washington. Mitsubishi  Aircraft announced  Monday it has selected Grant County International Airport as its U.S. test flight center. That means a new high-tech airplane hangar and an estimated 100 jobs for the central Washington community. 

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Stop And Frisk Ruling
6:21 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Says ‘Stop And Frisk’ Went Too Far

File photo of the Washington Supreme Court chambers.
Credit Credit Cacophony / Wikimedia

Police in Washington can “stop and frisk” individuals they have specific reason to believe may be armed. But if that search goes beyond a “brief and nonintrusive” search then it’s unconstitutional. That’s the finding of the Washington Supreme Court Thursday.

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Marijuana Legalization
6:58 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Pot Stores Open Around Washington

Marijuana retailers opened across the state Tuesday.
Credit Mark / Flickr

Washington’s recreational marijuana market is open for business. From Seattle to Bellingham to Prosser, marijuana stores opened for business Tuesday. Excited customers lined up, dressed up and celebrated the end of pot prohibition. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this wrap-up.

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Legal Marijuana Licenses
5:48 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Stores Before The Pot: Why The Rush To License Washington Marijuana Retailers?

Credit Cannabis Training University / Wikimedia

It’s another significant milestone in Washington’s experiment with legal, recreational marijuana. The first 24 pot retailers in Washington now have their licenses in hand.

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Washington Marijuana
6:54 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Legal Pot Prices May Be High To Start

Credit Carline Jean MCT / Landov

Marijuana users may pay some high prices to get high when Washington’s legal pot market launches the week of July 7. The initial price-per-gram could be nearly double what medical marijuana card-holders pay. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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