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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Senate Budget Proposal
4:01 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Washington Senate Budget: More Money For Education, No 'Loophole' Closures

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 3:22 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The mostly Republican majority in the Washington state Senate has unveiled its budget proposal. It would put $1 billion more into basic education without raising taxes. The spending blueprint released Wednesday contrasts sharply with what Governor Jay Inslee proposed last week.

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Climate Change Bill
4:08 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Washington Republicans Declare Victory On Inslee's Climate Change Bill

Washington Legislature

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 3:07 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In the coming months, Washington state will embark on a study of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The research is one provision of a measure Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Tuesday. It’s a key legislative win for the Democrat.

So why are Republicans declaring victory?

In the end, Governor Inslee got his climate change bill. But it came out looking a bit different then it went in. That’s because Republicans now largely control the Washington Senate. They rewrote key sections of the bill.

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Abortion Coverage Mandate
4:59 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Even With Enough Votes To Pass, Abortion Coverage Mandate May Fail

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 4:50 pm

Abortion-rights supporters say they have enough votes to pass a controversial insurance mandate measure in the Washington state Senate. But it appears unlikely to clear a Republican-led health care committee before a Wednesday deadline.

Things got testy Monday at a public hearing on the measure. Democrat Karen Keiser urged Republican Chair Randi Becker to allow a committee vote on the bill.

“It’s the right thing to do and I would really ask you to consider my request,” Keiser said. To which Becker responded, “Thank you. We’ll consider it.”

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Financing Education
4:57 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Washington Governor Shifts Emphasis To Sell Tax Package For Schools

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 4:45 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – On the campaign trail, Washington Governor Jay Inslee talked about financing education by growing the economy. Now the Democrat proposes to raise $1.2 billion for schools by extending some tax increases and ending some tax breaks.

In Spokane last June I moderated the first gubernatorial debate between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna. And I put this question to both candidates: if elected, would you ask voters to support a new tax for schools to respond to the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling that the state is not adequately funding education.

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Principal Veto Power
5:21 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Washington Educators Pan Bill Aimed At Teacher 'Dance Of the Lemons'

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 4:54 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – It’s an idea that’s catching on around the country: give school principals the power to reject a teacher assigned to their building. Giving principals veto power has already passed the Washington Senate. But at a public hearing in the House Friday the idea faced opposition – and not just from teachers.

In the education documentary “Waiting For Superman” they talk about the dance of the lemons.

Waiting For Superman: “Principals have their lemons. These are teachers who are chronically bad: they know it, the other teachers know it …”

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Washington's Marijuana Consultant
6:39 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Pot Consultant: 'The World's Going To Learn A Lot' From Washington

TVW

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 7:06 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s new marijuana consultant says the world will learn a lot from the state’s move to legalize pot. Professor Mark Kleiman believes Washington is the right size state to try this voter-approved experiment.

And, he says, it bodes well that state regulators are taking it seriously.

“Even people that I know who really think that marijuana legalization is a bad idea and will not work out well, are enthusiastic about the idea that Washington is going to try it in a sensible way because then we’ll know something.”

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Short-Term Loans
6:02 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Proposed Short Term Loan Stirs Heated Debate In Washington

Dan Iggers Flickr

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 5:28 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – One of the Northwest’s most visible payday lenders is back in the middle of a fight over short-term loans. Moneytree wants the Washington legislature to approve a new type of consumer loan.

This new loan would give short-term borrowers more money up front, but also more time to pay it off. Someone in a financial pinch could borrow up to $1,500 cash over 12 months.

In testimony before a panel of lawmakers, opponent Bruce Neas noted that all the fees and interest could add up to more than the amount of the original loan.

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Undercover IDs
7:28 am
Wed March 27, 2013

False IDs For Cops? Washington's Unauthorized Program Faces Scrutiny

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 7:51 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – For decades, police officers in Washington have been able to obtain false driver licenses for undercover work. But this quasi-secret program inside the Department of Licensing only recently came to light. It turns out the confidential ID program was never approved by the legislature. Now two state lawmakers are calling for more oversight to prevent possible abuses.

As a street cop in the early 1980s, Mitch Barker went undercover to work drugs and vice. The Washington Department of Licensing helped him assume a fake identity.

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Undercover Driver's Licenses
5:55 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

GOP Lawmakers Have Concerns About Undercover Driver’s License Program

Two Washington state lawmakers are raising questions about a quasi-secret program inside the state’s Department of Licensing. For decades, the agency has issued false IDs to undercover police officers. But the legislature never approved the program.

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Wash. Senator Ill
6:59 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Washington Senate Majority Could Be Imperiled By Sick Member

Republican Mike Carrell

The serious illness of a Washington state Senator could threaten to alter the balance of power in that legislative chamber. The majority is now potentially short a critical vote.

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