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. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C-SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Ways to Connect

VISITOR7/WIKIMEDIA-TINYURL.COM/J6O4LKN

Nearly 20,000 people have been removed from Washington’s Medicaid rolls for ineligibility. The purge happened after the state stepped up efforts to verify residency and income levels.

Over the summer, Washington’s Health Care Authority experimented with using the research firm LexisNexis as an additional way to check the residency status of Medicaid recipients. Based on that, 64,000 accounts were flagged.

WIKIMEDIA-TINYURL.COM/YC44O4SR

Recreational marijuana may be legal in Washington and Oregon, but police continue to bust illegal pot operations that aren’t licensed by the state.

The latest numbers from the Washington State Patrol show that 89 illegal marijuana grow operations were shut down in Washington in the past year. Some were indoor grows, most were outdoor.

Washington and Oregon are making contingency plans in case Congress doesn’t reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is for low-income families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Police are investigating the apparent murder of an inmate Sunday night at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.

In response to recent reports about sexual harassment at the Washington state Capitol, a state Senate committee voted Tuesday night to require all senators and staff to take annual sexual harassment training.

The vote by the Senate’s Facilities and Operations Committee was unanimous.

Washington state lawmakers will likely have to come up with an extra $1 billion for schools when they convene in January for the 2018 session.

The Washington Supreme Court issued a unanimous order Wednesday that said the state is not on track to fully fund public schools by a court-imposed deadline of September 1, 2018.

WSDOT/FLICKR

Beginning next year, Washington state Senators and Senate staff will be required to take annual sexual harassment training. The Senate’s operations committee unanimously approved that requirement at a meeting Tuesday night.

Republican state Senator Joe Fain told his colleagues there needs to be immediate action to address the workplace climate at the Capitol.

LAKE STEVENS POLICE DEPARTMENT

 

The state of Washington has agreed to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit involving a 7-year-old girl named Cheyene who was rescued from a trash and feces-filled house in Lake Stevens in 2015.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the retrial of former Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley.

VISITOR7 / WIKIMEDIA - TINYURL.COM/J6O4LKN

Washington lawmakers will return to the Capitol next week for “Committee Days” in advance of next January’s regular legislative session. Distracted driving and salmon net pens will be on the agenda.

Lawmakers will get an update on Washington’s new distracted driving law, which has been in effect since July. The law prohibits drivers from holding and operating their phones and other devices—even while stopped at a traffic light.

There will also be a review of last summer’s collapse of a net pen near holding more than 150,000 farmed Atlantic salmon.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Democrats are declaring victory in a special Washington state Senate race that will give them one-party rule in Olympia. A new vote tally Wednesday showed Democrat Manka Dhingra maintaining her lead in the 45th district race in the Seattle suburbs. 

Democrats had the early advantage in the race for control of the Washington state Senate as Democrat Manka Dhingra led Republican Jinyoung Englund by 10 points in a special election on the eastside of Lake Washington.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

More than 170 women who work or have worked at the state Capitol have signed onto a letter urging sweeping change at the Legislature to end inappropriate behavior and misconduct women say they face on the job.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

 

It’s been an eventful and, for some, an emotional week in Olympia. On Tuesday,  a story was reported about women being sexually harassed in the state legislature. That reporting was in collaboration with The News Tribune of Tacoma and The Olympian. Since that story broke, more women have come forward on social media and in person to tell their stories of harassment at the Capitol.

Washington Legislature

A Washington state lawmaker who abruptly resigned his seat in March 2011 had been accused by a female staff member of inappropriate behavior. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Leaders in the Washington Legislature said they won’t tolerate sexual harassment, and encourage women to report unwanted attention from men. Those comments follow NWPR's investigation with The News Tribune of Tacoma into the workplace climate at the state Capitol.

Women At Washington’s Capitol Say ‘Me Too’

Oct 31, 2017
Pamela Wang

Nicole Grant was excited when she arrived at the state Capitol in 2010 to lobby on behalf of the Certified Electrical Workers of Washington. A journeyman electrician by training, Grant would be representing her fellow union members on issues such as workplace rights and safety.

The owner of a decaying central Washington mobile home park has agreed to make repairs and pay restitution to his mostly Latino farm worker tenants as part of a settlement in a two-year old lawsuit filed by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Candidates are breaking spending records in a special election that will decide which party controls the Washington Senate.

Republican Jinyoung Englund and Democrat Manka Dhingra are vying to fill an open state Senate seat in Washington’s 45th legislative district which stretches from Kirkland to Duvall.

CAMPAIGN PHOTOS

 

  Candidates are breaking spending records in a special election that will decide which party controls the Washington Senate.

With Election Day less than a month away, money is pouring into Washington state political action committees. Much of that cash will likely find its way to a special state Senate race on the east side of Lake Washington.

The outcome of that race will determine which party controls the Senate. 


In the living room of her Olympia home, Crystal opens up a large file box that contains her son’s life history.

“As a mom you keep those shot records and those test scores in their little file even if they’re in their 20s,” said Crystal, whose last name we’re not using to protect her son's identity.

But this plastic box has something else: a detailed record of her son’s battle with addiction and mental illness beginning when he was 12.

SEATTLE MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES - TINYURL.COM/YA8MLCGM / CACOPHONY - TINYURL.COM/Y9SPFGG2

 

Washington’s economic climate is the fourth best in the nation. That’s according to a new report by produced by Washington’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

On a recent Wednesday morning, Denise Vermillion stood outside the Thurston County Courthouse and expressed the frustration that had been building inside her for days.

Efforts to turnaround Washington’s troubled Western State Hospital are taking longer than expected. The federal government this week granted yet another extension to give the state’s largest mental hospital more time to fix systemic problems.

GLASGOWS / FLICKR - TINYURL.COM/H5S37YU

In 2014, Washington voters approved Initiative 594 to require background checks for person-to-person gun sales. But the law has only resulted in two prosecutions.

Did Washington’s prepaid Guaranteed Education Tuition program give VIP service to state lawmakers with accounts?

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a challenge Monday to Washington’s voter-approved background check law for person-to-person gun transfers.

If you buy individual health insurance through Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange get ready for sticker shock. Rates will go up by an average of 24 percent next year.

Courtesy TVW

The state of Washington will petition to join a lawsuit that challenges President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. Governor Jay Inslee announced the legal move Monday.

Pages