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."

Pages

Affordable Care Act
4:51 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Northwest Health Exchanges Are Big Money Ventures

Cover Oregon

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 4:47 pm

Nearly $500 million.

That’s how much the federal government has awarded Washington, Oregon and Idaho to create health benefit exchanges. These are the new web portals to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act. It’s a costly undertaking that involves six-figure salaries, hefty IT contracts and high-end advertising campaigns.

If a green, talking gecko can sell car insurance, then maybe Portland-based folk singer Laura Gibson can sell health insurance.

Read more
Washington Legislature
4:10 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Conflict Of Interest Lines Blur In Citizen Legislature

Washington Legislature

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 8:55 am

Washington lawmakers have departed the Capitol and are getting back to their normal lives. For most of them, that means going back to their regular jobs as farmers, lawyers, nurses, business owners. It’s the essence of a citizen legislature.

But this dual existence – one job as a lawmaker and another job back home - can invite conflicts of interest.

Family Matters

Read more
Marijuana Legalization
4:05 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Concerns Raised About Lack Of Police Resources, Commitment To Combat Illegal Pot

Cannabis Training University Wikimedia

Originally published on Fri July 5, 2013 3:26 pm

The stated goal of Washington’s new marijuana law is to stop treating adult pot use as a crime. But Washington’s pot consultant says this experiment in legalization will only work if the police aggressively target the black market. And he’s concerned that won’t happen.

The sponsors of Initiative 502 were clear. They said it was time for a “new approach” to marijuana in Washington. They wanted to allow adult pot use, free up law enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes and “take marijuana out of the hands of illegal drug organizations.”

Read more
Marijuana Market
6:17 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

No Per Person Caps On Retail Pot License For Now

Washington’s Liquor Control Board does not plan to limit how many retail licenses one person can obtain to sell marijuana. At least that’s the decision for now. The Board Wednesday issued its final draft rules for the state’s new recreational marijuana market.

Read more
Marijuana Regulation
4:44 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Revised Pot Rules Ditch Logo, Allow Outdoor Grows

Washington’s Liquor Control Board has dropped this proposed label for legal marijuana after criticism that it might promote pot use and brand Washington the pot state.
Credit Washington State Liquor Control Board

Washington’s official pot logo is out. Outdoor marijuana grows are in.

Read more
Columbia River Crossing
4:58 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Joint Washington-Oregon Columbia River Crossing Office To Close

Cacophony Wikimedia

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 5:40 pm

In what Washington Governor Jay Inslee calls "a dang shame," plans for a new bridge over the Columbia River are shelved -- if not dead. The Washington legislature adjourned without funding the construction phase of the project.

You might call the Columbia River Crossing “the bridge to the archives.” That’s where the blueprints will go now that the Washington Senate said “no” to a gas tax increase. That nixes $450 million for the new bridge over the mighty Columbia between Vancouver and Portland.

Read more
Washington Budget
5:08 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

Washington Senate Passes Budget

Lincolnite Wikimedia

Originally published on Fri June 28, 2013 4:55 pm

The Washington Senate has passed a two-year operating budget on a 44 to 4 vote. It now goes to the House for debate.

The sudden momentum in Olympia Friday follows weeks of budget gridlock. But in order to find common ground, both the House and Senate gave up things they wanted. That included all but one tax exemption that Democrats proposed to repeal.

Read more
Gas Tax
3:30 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

On Second Try, Washington House Passes Gas Tax Measure

Cacophony Wikimedia

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 3:18 pm

The Washington House has approved a $10 billion transportation package that includes a 10.5 cent gas tax increase over two years. The vote Thursday follows a failed effort Wednesday to approve the same measure.

It was a rare do-over vote on the House floor. And State Representative Marko Liias, a Democrat, acknowledged as much. He said, “As a House we rarely reconsider our decisions. You know when we make a decision, it’s pretty final. But this is a singular moment. This is a time when inaction is a loss of competitiveness.”

Read more
Budget Deal
3:15 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Washington Governor Announces Budget Deal, No Shutdown

Christina Salerno TVW

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 5:19 pm

The Washington legislature hopes to deliver a budget to Governor Jay Inslee by the end of business Friday. This after the House and Senate reached a handshake deal on a $33.6 billion state budget for the next two years. The agreement – after weeks of negotiations – should avert a government shutdown on Monday.

The official announcement came from Governor Inslee who was flanked by legislative leaders. “We are happy," he said. "And I know we are all relieved, to report to you that lawmakers have reached agreement on an operating budget for the next biennium.”

Read more
Washington Gas Tax
5:51 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Gas Tax Package Fall Short In Washington House

Theresa Murray Flickr

Originally published on Wed June 26, 2013 5:38 pm

A proposal to raise Washington’s gas tax by 10.5 cents to fund transportation projects has failed in the state House. Supporters Wednesday came up one vote short. But they vow to try again.

The transportation revenue package would raise $10 billion for maintenance and preservation of existing roads and to fund new projects. The proposal calls for a 6 cent gas tax increase this summer followed by another 4.5 cent increase next July.

Read more

Pages