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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NPR Story
5:48 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Washington Lawmakers Consider Enshrining Supermajority Votes For Tax Hikes

Originally published on Tue February 26, 2013 6:12 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Supreme Court is expected to rule any week now on the constitutionality of supermajority votes for tax hikes. Meanwhile, Tuesday the budget committee in the Washington Senate took testimony on a proposal to enshrine that two-thirds threshold in the state constitution.

Proponents view it as a permanent taxpayer protection. But human services lobbyist Lonnie Johns-Brown told the Republican-led panel a constitutional amendment is unnecessary.

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Gun Control
4:05 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Washington Venture Capitalist Funds New Anti-Gun Violence Coalition

M Glasgow Flickr

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 3:46 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gun control advocates in Washington are banding together to turn up the heat on state lawmakers. In the coming days, they plan to announce the formation of a new grassroots lobbying coalition. Their first target is passage of universal background check legislation.

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility has seed money from Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer. Other founders are Seattle city councilwoman Sally Bagshaw, former council member Tina Podlodowski and Seattle writer and activist Eric Liu.

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Marijuana Entrepreneurs
6:07 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Washington Marijuana Legalization Draws Yale MBAs With Big Ideas

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 3:39 pm

SEATTLE, Wash. – As Washington moves to legalize marijuana, pot entrepreneurs are lobbying in public forums and behind the scenes. These business interests want to shape the new marijuana marketplace. Among them, a Seattle-based private equity firm called Privateer Holdings. The company has hired a top Olympia lobbyist and is making the case for large marijuana grows to state regulators.

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Hanford Leak
4:51 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Fresh Litigation Over Hanford A 'Definite Possibility' Says Washington AG

Department of Energy

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 4:12 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The latest Hanford waste leak will be on the agenda as Washington Governor Jay Inslee meets Friday with US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu. Meanwhile, Washington’s Attorney General says legal action to force a more aggressive clean up schedule at Hanford is possible.

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Gas Tax
4:17 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Washington Gas Tax Increase Proposal Faces Bumpy Road

Kristen Steele

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 3:54 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A proposal to raise Washington’s gas tax by ten cents faces a bumpy road in Olympia. House Democrats rolled out the idea Wednesday as part of a $10 billion transportation funding package, but it faced immediate opposition.

The plan comes from House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn. It would increase Washington’s gas tax two-cents per gallon per year for five years. House Republicans quickly pointed out that when fully implemented, the state’s fuel excise tax would be 47.5 cents per gallon – higher than any other state today.

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Wash. Transportation Secretary
5:14 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Oregon Transit Leader Tapped As Washington’s New Transportation Secretary

LinkedIn

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 5:47 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee has tapped an Oregon transit and land use advocate for his new Secretary of Transportation. Lynn Peterson will leave her job with Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber where she serves as his Sustainable Communities advisor. Previously, as Clackamas County Chair, Peterson developed a reputation as a supporter of mass transit. Governor Inslee says Peterson will bring a “new vision for transportation” to Washington.

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Liquor Control Officers
6:36 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Washington Liquor Control Officers Want Full Law Enforcement Powers

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 5:58 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. –Liquor control officers in Washington say they need more authority to combat the black market for booze, cigarettes and, soon, marijuana. State lawmakers on Tuesday will take testimony on a proposal to give full police powers to liquor enforcement officers.

Washington has 56 officers who police the stores and restaurants that sell liquor and tobacco products. Now that private retailers can sell booze, there are nearly three times as many liquor licenses statewide and theft has become a significant problem.

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Buried Waste Tanks
5:35 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Apparent Hanford Leak Raises New Questions About Buried Tanks

Hanford's 200 single-shell underground waste storage tanks were built in the 1940s.
Credit Department of Energy

There are renewed concerns about the condition of buried waste tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington. The U.S. Department of Energy says one of those mammoth World War II era containers – thought to have been stabilized - is losing highly radioactive waste at a rate of 150 to 300 gallons a year.

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Hanford Tank Leak
3:56 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Inslee Calls Apparent Hanford Tank Leak 'Disturbing News'

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 3:40 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the state has a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to radioactive leaks from the Hanford reservation in southeast Washington. The Democrat made his comments Friday in response to news of an apparent leak of high level nuclear waste from an underground tank.

This would be the first leak of its kind since 2005. That’s when the US Department of Energy completed efforts to stabilize dozens of tanks that had released more than a million gallons of waste into the ground.

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Gun Background Checks
6:02 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Universal Gun Checks Proposal Gains Support In Washington Legislature

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 5:53 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The idea of requiring background checks for all gun sales in Washington appears to be gaining traction. Nearly half of the Washington state Senate Monday signed onto a universal background check proposal.

Co-signers to the legislation include Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, a Democrat. Just last month he seemed cool to a similar universal background check proposal from the Washington House.

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