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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Mental Health
4:35 pm
Mon March 9, 2015

Deaths, Lawsuits Spur Mental Health Bills In Washington Legislature

Cacophony Wikimedia

Originally published on Mon March 9, 2015 4:32 pm

Mental health is one of the top issues in the Washington legislature this year. Several measures cleared the Washington House Monday in advance of a Wednesday cut-off deadline.

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Washington Lawmakers
6:45 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Washington Lawmakers Race Key Cut-Off Deadline

An aerial view of the Washington State Capitol Campus in Olympia
WSDOT Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 4:29 pm

Washington lawmakers face some long workdays as they try to beat the cut-off to move bills to out of their chamber of origin. Bills that don’t move on die.

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Truant Juveniles
5:57 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Amid Push For Alternatives, Judges Cling to Juvenile Detention For Truants

Grays Harbor County uses its juvenile detention facility to lock up non-criminal status offenders for contempt of court more than any other county in the state.
Credit Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

We’ve been reporting on students who are sent to juvenile detention for skipping school and other non-criminal behavior. Nationally, there’s a push to outlaw incarceration for these youth and use alternatives. But some judges are reluctant to give detention up.

On a recent morning, Judge David Edwards presides over Grays Harbor County truancy court.

“You have two F's, two incompletes because of missing work,” Edawrds said.

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Government and Politics
3:18 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Washington State Senator Apologizes After 'Colored' Remark

Washington state Senator Jim Honeyford of Yakima
Washington Legislature

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 9:47 am

Washington state Senator Jim Honeyford of Yakima has apologized after using the term “colored” to refer to people of color.

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Mental Health
5:46 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Bill Would Allow Families Of Mentally Ill To Petition For Involuntary Treatment

Joel Reuter was a 28-year old Seattle man who was killed in a standoff with police in 2013 after firing a gun from his balcony.
Doug Reuter

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 5:48 pm

For the first time, the Washington state Senate has passed a version of “Joel’s Law.”

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Truant Juveniles
3:23 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Locked Up At Age 11: One Truant's Cycle In And Out Of Juvenile Detention

Marquise Flynn was in elementary school the first time he served time in juvenile detention for contempt of court related to his truancy petition.
Gail Morehouse

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 3:16 pm

The first time a judge sent Marquise-Unique Travon Flynn to juvenile detention he was in fifth grade. He had one goal: not to cry in front of the other kids in the courtroom.

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Minimum Wage
5:50 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Washington House Passes $12 Minimum Wage

Cacophony Wikimedia

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 5:20 pm

Democrats in the Washington state House have passed a $12 per hour minimum wage measure. The increase would phase-in over four years.

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Truant Juveniles
5:16 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Should Judges Lock Kids Up For Skipping School?

Superior Court Judge David Edwards presides over truancy court in Grays Harbor County.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 4:25 pm

Skipping school is not a crime in Washington state, but it can still land a student behind bars.

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Gas Tax
4:42 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Washington Senate Passes 11.7 Cent Gas Tax Hike; Heads To House

The Washington Senate approved an 11.7-cent gas tax increase phased in over three years.
Kristen Steele Flickr

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 3:44 pm

The Republican-led Washington Senate Monday approved a nearly 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase phased in over three years.

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Senate Tax Rule
4:22 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Washington Lt. Governor Tosses Two-Thirds Rule For 'New' Taxes

Washington Lt. Governor Brad Owen
Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 3:10 pm

In January, the Washington state Senate adopted a rule requiring that new taxes pass the Senate by a two-thirds vote. Monday Lt. Governor Brad Owen tossed it out.

Owen said the super majority threshold runs afoul of the state constitution. Owen pointed to a 2013 Washington Supreme Court ruling that overturned a voter-approved super majority requirement for tax hikes.

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