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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Washington Budget
4:09 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Washington Budget Talks Slow, But Governor Sees Progress

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 4:06 pm

Washington’s special session begins next Monday. But at this point it seems unlikely House and Senate budget negotiators will be close to a deal. Governor Jay Inslee said both sides agreed Tuesday on some common assumptions about the next two year budget.

Inslee spoke at the end of a bill signing ceremony. For now he’s measuring progress in these budget negotiations by the week, not the day. A budget is made up of hundreds if not thousands of assumptions about how much something will or won’t cost. How much a cut will or won’t save.

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May Day Olympia
6:55 am
Thu May 2, 2013

Police And May Day Protestors Face-Off In Olympia

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 11:19 am

In Olympia, May Day protesters faced-off with police in riot gear Wednesday night. But the two sides did not clash. A group of about 50 mostly young people – some of them wearing face masks - marched for more than an hour through the streets of downtown Olympia, disrupting traffic.

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May Day March
5:05 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Olympia May Day March Remains Peaceful

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 4:33 pm

A May Day march in Olympia remained peaceful Wednesday. Protesters had planned what they called a “shut down the banks” party.

There were about 60 marchers. Some of them wore bandanas to disguise their identifies, although most went without. They marched through the streets of downtown Olympia and tied up some traffic. They passed by some of the corporate bank branches in downtown Olympia -- Chase, Bank of America, and U.S. Bank. But there was no vandalism or property damage.

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Washington Lobbyists
7:05 am
Wed May 1, 2013

The Influence Game: Wining And Dining Washington Lawmakers After Hours

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu May 2, 2013 4:39 pm

In the first three months of this year, lobbyists in Washington state spent more than $200,000 on entertainment. Much of that money was spent to wine and dine state lawmakers during the just-concluded 105-day session. But what are lobbyists and their clients getting in exchange for picking up the tab?

After the legislative day ends up at the Capitol, it’s pretty common for some of the players to decamp. They go to one of a handful of usually higher-end Olympia establishments. This is where – over a meal, perhaps a bottle of Washington wine – the work continues.

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Columbia River Crossing
5:39 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Columbia River Crossing Funding Hinges On Washington Special Session

Artist rendering of the potential I-5 replacement bridge.
Credit Columbia River Crossing

When Washington lawmakers return to Olympia in two weeks for a special session, Governor Jay Inslee is demanding they approve funding for the new Columbia River Crossing. The Democrat wants that funding included in a broader gas tax measure.

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Washington Legislative Session
7:59 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Washington Legislature Adjourns, But Not For Long

The Washington Legislature adjourned Sunday night.
Credit Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The Washington legislature has adjourned after a 105-day session. The final gavels fell just after six o’clock Sunday night.

Owen: “The 2013 regular session of the 63rd legislature is adjourned Sine Die"

But the adjournment won’t last long. Governor Jay Inslee immediately called a special session for two weeks from now because the House and Senate failed to come to agreement on a two-year budget. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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Washington Budget
7:35 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Washington Budget Writers ‘Light Years Apart’ As Special Session Looms

Hunter-Hill.jpg: Members of the Washington Senate’s majority coalition huddle during a break in floor action on the final day of the regular session.
Credit Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will give lawmakers a two week cooling off period before calling them back into special session. That announcement Sunday evening followed the formal adjournment of the regular 105-day session.

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Political Fundraising
4:01 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Washington Special Session Has Political Fundraising Implications

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 3:42 pm

An expected special session of the Washington legislature would mean another freeze on political fundraising. State law prohibits lawmakers from soliciting contributions while they are in session. For most members that’s probably not a huge concern since this is an off-election year. But a few legislators will be on this year’s ballot.

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Washington Legislature
5:32 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Washington Governor Wants DUI, Gun Bills Plus Budget

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 5:34 pm

Governor Jay Inslee is like the gambler. He says it would take an “inside straight” for the legislature to complete its work by Sunday’s deadline. 

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Two-Thirds Requirement
6:07 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Tim Eyman Proposes Yearly Advisory Votes On Two-Thirds For Tax Hikes

It’s been nearly two months since the Washington Supreme Court tossed out a voter-approved two-thirds requirement for tax hikes. Monday, anti-tax activist Tim Eyman proposed an initiative he describes as a “lobbying tool” to bring back the super majority rule.

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