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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WSU Medical School
4:44 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

WSU President Hopes To Present 'Unified Front' On Medical School

An existing building on the WSU Spokane campus would be used for the proposed medical school.
Credit Washington State University

This January, Washington State University plans to ask lawmakers for permission to open a medical school in Spokane.

The question is will the University of Washington oppose that effort? It currently runs its own prominent medical school.

WSU President Elson Floyd said his goal is to avoid what one lawmaker has termed the “Apple Cup of medical schools.”

“We are in the process now of negotiating those things so it’s my hope that we’ll be able to present a unified front to the legislature as we go forward next year,” Floyd said.

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Class Size Initiative
4:59 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Washington Class Size Measure Puts $2 Billion Dent in State Budget

Washington class size initiative puts squeeze on budget.
Credit Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

Washington’s budget outlook is suddenly $2 billion in the red largely because of a class size reduction measure just approved by Washington voters.

That initiative adds to an already challenging budget picture when lawmakers convene in January.

“I think we have a significant problem here and we have work to do,” Democrat Ross Hunter said. He’s the chief budget writer in the Washington House.

Hunter believes additional tax revenues will be needed to balance the next budget. Senate Republican budget chair Andy Hill disagrees.

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Government and Politics
5:52 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

What Is Astroturfing And Who's Doing It

This PowerPoint slide shows the “campaigns and coalitions” that the Western States Petroleum Association has “activated” to combat what it calls “aggressive anti-oil initiatives in the West.”
Credit Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Astroturfing is when interest groups run a campaign that’s designed to look like it’s grassroots in nature. A document obtained by public radio shows the oil industry is at the center of more than a dozen Astroturf groups in Washington, Oregon, and California.

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Skagit River Bridge
4:44 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Washington State Patrol Cites Truck Driver In Skagit Bridge Collapse

A water level view of the accident scene following the collapse of the bridge spanning the Skagit River.
Credit National Transportation Safety Board

The Washington State Patrol has ticketed the driver of an oversize load that collapsed the Skagit River Bridge in May of 2013.

The State Patrol announced the $550 fine Monday and released its final report into the bridge collapse. The report concluded the oversize load was two inches over legal height.

The investigation concluded that a pole on the pilot car leading the oversize load did hit the bridge. But instead of moving to the center lane where there was enough clearance, the truck’s driver stayed in the right lane.

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Washington State Birthday
7:26 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Washington Turns 125 But Doesn't Look A Day Over 30!

A new generation of capsule-keepers is sworn-in at the Washington Capitol. These mostly 10-year-olds will protect Washington’s time capsule for the next 25 years. This was part of a day-long celebration of Washington’s 125th birthday.
Credit Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington state is 125 years old. There was a celebration Tuesday at the state capitol. It featured a historic reenactment, a time capsule ceremony and, of course, cake.

In the Capitol Rotunda, a member of the Squaxin Indian tribe sang a blessing song.

That was followed by “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Then a speech by the governor before the action moved to Washington’s time capsule. The locked vault was opened and a new generation of time capsule-keepers sworn in.

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Voter Turnout
4:45 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Washington Voter Turnout Appears At 36-Year Low

Voter turnout this year in the state of Washington was 54 percent, making it one of the lowest turnouts since 1978.
Credit Washington Secretary of State

Voter turnout in Washington was not just low this year – it could be a 36 year low.

Not since 1978 has such a small percentage of registered voters participated in a Washington election. 1978 was the year Washington voters approved a ban on mandatory busing. That year, just 52 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. Turnout this year is barely on track to beat that at 54 percent. That’s eight points lower than Secretary of State Kim Wyman projected back in September.

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Class Size Initiative
6:34 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Washington Budget Committee Chair 'Doesn't Know How To Pay For' Class Size Measure

Credit Brianhe / Wikimedia Commons

Washington voters are likely to pass a class-size measure that comes with a multi-billion dollar price tag.

Now, Washington lawmakers will have to figure out how to fund it. Or muster the votes to amend it.

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Kenneth Bae Returns
6:23 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Kenneth Bae Released, Thanks Public 'For Not Forgetting Me'

Kenneth Bae of Lynnwood, Wash., with his family, addresses reporters minutes after landing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle Nov. 8, 2014. The Obama administration secured the release of Bae and another American from North Korean prison sentences.
Credit Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Kenneth Bae of Lynnwood, Wash., was free for the first time since 2012 when he landed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle Saturday night.

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Washington Gun Initiatives
6:01 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Washington Voters Approve Expanded Gun Background Checks

Credit M Glasgow / Flickr

Washington voters have overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to expand background checks for person-to-person gun sales and transfers.

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Washington Election 2014
10:26 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

GOP On Track To Hold Washington Senate, Pick-Up House Seats

File photo of the Washington Senate chamber

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 10:22 pm

Washington Democrats appear to have failed in their bid to retake control of the state Senate. Republicans were also poised to pick up seats in the Democratically-controlled Washington House.

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