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.

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Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he’s “deeply disappointed” by comments President Trump’s spokesman made Thursday about legalized marijuana.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order Thursday in response to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The Democrat said the state will not participate in “mean-spirited policies” on immigration.

This week, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security announced an aggressive plan to deport people who are in the United States illegally and who run afoul of the law.

On a visit to Olympia on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray described the policy as “very wrongheaded.”

Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board has fined state Rep. Melanie Stambaugh $5,000 for posting taxpayer funded videos and photos to a campaign-related Facebook page. The Republican from Puyallup said she will challenge the ethics ruling.

STATE OF OKLAHOMA

Former Washington state Sen. Don Benton said he’s “very excited” about the confirmation of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Benton is a senior adviser to the White House at the EPA.

Washington prosecutors say state law makes it nearly impossible to criminally charge a police officer who uses deadly force. Now a key state lawmaker predicts that law will change this year.

When a convicted felon, domestic abuser or fugitive tries to buy a gun in Oregon and is denied after a background check, a state trooper comes calling. Sometimes it leads to an arrest and prosecution.

But when this happens in Washington, it’s a different story.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson predicts future legal battles with President Donald Trump. The Democrat said Wednesday that he’s prepared to sue the president again if he feels Washington state is harmed by White House actions.

A bipartisan proposal to repeal the death penalty in Washington state will get a hearing Wednesday morning. But the Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee said there’s no plan to hold a vote on the measure.

President Donald Trump has made immigration a top issue. But one of his campaign promises has a Republican state senator in Washington concerned.

When President Donald Trump signed an executive order on immigration and refugees last month, it was Washington state that led the legal battle to overturn it. Now, after a string of court rulings, it appears that the fight could be be heading all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And the question many people are asking is, why Washington?

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco Thursday afternoon refused to reinstate President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations. The court left in place a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is vowing to continue to resist policies from President Donald Trump. At a news conference Thursday, the Democrat said Washington has been “appropriately bold and protective” of its interests.

Domestic abusers, felons and fugitives are prohibited from owning guns. But what happens if they try to buy a gun? In Oregon, the State Police investigate or alert local police. In Washington state no one follows up.

But that could soon change.

Outside the federal courthouse in downtown Seattle last Friday afternoon, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson suddenly found himself in the national spotlight after federal Judge James L. Robart had just imposed an immediate, nationwide halt to President Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees. As camera shutters clicked, Ferguson played David to Trump's Goliath.

"The law is a powerful thing," Ferguson said. "It has the ability to hold everybody accountable to it and that includes the president of the United States."

First it was companies like Amazon and Expedia. Now Washington state’s lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration has the support of former top U.S. officials.

WSDOT / Flickr

 

Thursday is the 21st anniversary of a deadly school shooting at Frontier Junior High in Moses Lake, Washington. To mark the anniversary, the sister of one of the victims plans to ask state lawmakers to make it a crime to not safely store guns.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee seems to have a new part-time job: foil to President Donald Trump. And it’s getting him lots of attention, including mentions on Facebook and in the national media.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants a new capital gains tax and carbon tax to comply with a court order to fully fund public schools. Republicans in the state Senate Friday instead proposed to solve the state’s school funding crisis by raising the state property tax while lowering local rates.

President Donald Trump wants a “major investigation” into voter fraud during the 2016 election. But Washington Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Wednesday that she’s seen no evidence of illegal voting.

A conservative Republican state senator from northeast Washington has resigned his seat to take a job with the new Trump administration. Sen. Brian Dansel announced his resignation Tuesday leaving the Washington Senate in a temporary political tie.

When we think of kids getting suspended or expelled from school, we usually think of high schoolers. But it also happens to elementary school students -- even kindergartners. Monday parents begged a panel of Washington lawmakers to ban suspensions for the youngest students.

There’s a lot the Democratic governors of Washington and Oregon don’t want from President-elect Donald Trump. They’re miles apart on health care, immigration and trade. But it turns out each governor does have a wish list for the new administration.

It happens thousands of times a year in Washington state: someone who isn’t allowed to own a gun tries to buy one but is denied after a background check. But even though it’s a crime to lie on a background check form, police rarely if ever investigate these cases.

As Donald Trump was being sworn in Friday morning, students from Olympia High School led a permitted rally on the steps of the Washington Capitol. Some were joined by their parents and had excused absences.

TVW

 

The idea of giving workers paid time off to care for a new baby or an elderly parent has long been a priority of the left, but now the idea is gaining traction with some Republicans in the Washington Legislature.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was sworn in Wednesday for a second term. In his inaugural address to a joint session of the Washington Legislature, the Democrat said his top priority this year is to fully fund education.

The Washington Legislature convenes Monday for a 105-day budget writing session. And the political dynamic in Olympia is full of digs at President-elect Trump, partisan sniping and disagreement over how to fund education.

Cori Medeiros / WSU Spokane Communications

 

Should it be easier to criminally charge police officers in Washington who use deadly force? A legislative task force said “yes," but the vote was far from unanimous.

Washington state lawmakers face a daunting task as they convene on Monday for the 2017 legislative session: how to fully fund public schools by 2018. And that job might have just gotten harder.

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