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
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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Washington Budget
4:46 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Prospect Of Washington Special Session Looms

Originally published on Mon April 22, 2013 11:27 am

It appears more likely Washington lawmakers will go into an overtime session. The regular 105-day session ends this Sunday. But the House and Senate, along with the governor, still have to agree on a two-year budget deal. Even if a deal was at hand -- and it doesn’t appear one is -- they’d be cutting it close.

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Tax Measure
6:03 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Washington Tax Hearing Brings Out Competing Tales Of Hardship

Originally published on Fri April 19, 2013 3:23 pm

Washington House Democrats are getting praise and scorn for their proposed $1.3 billion tax package for schools. At a public hearing Friday lawmakers heard tales of hardship from people for and against the tax measure.

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Drunk Driving
5:09 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Proposed DUI Crackdown Gets Pushback On Multiple Fronts

US Department of Transportation

Originally published on Thu April 18, 2013 5:07 pm

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and lawmakers want to move swiftly to crack down on repeat drunk drivers. This after two recent high profile tragedies in Seattle. But Thursday they got some pushback from judges, prosecutors, civil libertarians and even the restaurant industry.

It’s a classic case of the devil’s in the details. Take ignition interlock devices. There’s a proposal to install them at the impound lot after a drunk driver is arrested. But the installers say that isn’t technically feasible and lawyers question whether it’s legal prior to a conviction.

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Fictitious Driver Licenses
6:18 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Inslee Would Apply 'Broad' Definition Of Law Enforcement For False IDs

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 5:45 pm

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he would apply a "broad" interpretation to the term “law enforcement” when issuing fictitious driver licenses to undercover agents. The governor’s comment follows our report that the CIA has obtained nearly 300 so-called confidential Washington driver licenses since 2007.

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Washington Legislative Session
4:41 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

Washington Legislature Heads Into Fraught Home Stretch

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 4:17 pm

For the second time this week, minority Democrats in the Washington Senate have tried to force a vote on a controversial insurance measure that deals with abortion coverage. The parliamentary move Wednesday highlights partisan tensions as the deadline for adjournment approaches.

Democrat Karen Keiser led the effort to revive the so-called Reproductive Parity Act. On the floor of the Senate, she said the bill has enough votes to pass. “But," she said, "the Majority Caucus leadership has been not inclined to bring this bill to the floor.”

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DUI Legislation
5:18 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Washington To Consider Special DUI Driver License, Alcohol Bracelet

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 5:07 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Repeat drunk drivers in Washington may soon carry a scarlet letter driver license and have to wear an alcohol detection bracelet. Those are just two of the requirements contained in DUI legislation proposed Tuesday in Olympia.

The bipartisan plan follows two recent drunk driving tragedies in the Seattle area.

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