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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Drunk Driving Laws
5:20 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

After Tragedies, Wrong-Way Drivers And Ignition Interlocks Get Focus In Olympia

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 5:18 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Recent tragedies in Seattle have triggered an emergency discussion of drunk driving laws. Governor Jay Inslee said Tuesday it’s not acceptable that it takes a fifth DUI in ten years before a driver is charged with a felony. But changing that policy would be costly.

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Drunk Driving
4:10 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Inslee Calls For 'Aggressive' Approach To Drunk Drivers

Flickr

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 3:57 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee is demanding a renewed crackdown on drunk drivers. This after recent tragedies in the Seattle area.

The Democrat Tuesday called for more DUI patrols, more resources for prosecutors and stricter rules for ignition interlock devices.

“We've got to understand a drinking driver is just as dangerous as someone out there with a bomb in their car because that’s what they are," the governor said. "They’re rolling time bombs and that’s why I believe we need to be much more aggressive.”

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Confidential Driver Licenses
3:59 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Fictitious Driver License Program May Get More Safeguards

Washington Department of Licensing

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 4:30 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Stricter guidelines may come to a program that lets undercover police officers in Washington obtain fictitious driver licenses. The Washington House could vote soon on a measure that would require additional safeguards to ensure the false IDs are not misused.

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Marijuana Regulation
5:55 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

For Regulators, Marijuana Legalization All About 'Getting Into The Weeds'

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 5:50 pm

SEATTLE – When Washington voters legalized recreational marijuana last fall, they handed the state’s Liquor Control Board a regulatory nightmare. There’s no manual for how to create a safe and legal market for pot – something that’s never been done before.

State Representative Roger Goodman – speaking after a recent meeting on marijuana legalization – says the giggle factor is gone.

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Gas Tax
4:11 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Washington Senate To Wait And See On Gas Tax Package

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 3:19 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Transportation leaders in the Washington Senate have proposed what they call a “barebones” roads, ferries and transit budget for the next two years. The spending plan rolled out Wednesday in Olympia includes no new sources of funding for highway projects.

Republican Curtis King co-chairs the Senate Transportation committee. At a press conference, he acknowledged there’s a lot of pressure for a gas tax package this year.

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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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