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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Gun Background Checks
4:24 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Washington Governor Enlists Gabby Giffords In Push For Gun Checks Measure

The Washington House is expected to vote later Monday on a proposal to require background checks for all gun sales. Governor Jay Inslee has enlisted the help of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to help muster the votes for the controversial measure. Giffords was shot in the head in Arizona in 2011. Inslee, a Democrat, told reporters he spoke with Giffords Monday morning.

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Business Lobbying
6:52 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Inside The World Of Business Lobbying In Olympia

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 4:27 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In the world of state legislatures, there’s a powerful breed of players who normally shun the spotlight. They prefer to work behind the scenes to influence policy outcomes. We’re talking about business lobbyists. Inside this often hidden world, you’ll meet two of the most successful corporate contract lobbyists in the Washington state capitol. And learn some of their tricks of the trade.

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Legal Marijuana
5:38 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Pressure Mounts On Feds To Intervene In Washington, Colorado Pot Laws

Petr Brož Wikimedia

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 5:36 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday. He will likely get questions about Washington and Colorado’s new marijuana laws. Pressure is mounting on the Obama administration to block the pot legalization measures.

The new push for federal invention comes from a United Nations-based drug agency and nine former DEA chiefs. They say Washington and Colorado's new recreational pot laws violate international treaties.

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Pistol Database
5:38 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Washington Sheriffs, Police Chiefs Say Pistol Database Is Valuable Tool

Quagmar Flickr

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 5:36 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Efforts to get gun rights leaders in Washington to support -- or at least not oppose -- universal background checks appear to have hit a stumbling block. At issue is a state database that tracks pistol sales. Second Amendment advocates want it shut down, but the state’s sheriffs and police chiefs say it’s a vital law enforcement tool.

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Washington Senate
7:12 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Despite Pledge To Cooperate, Partisan Recriminations in Washington Senate

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 5:29 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Three months ago, 23 Republicans and two breakaway Democrats seized control of the Washington state Senate. At the time, Majority Leader Rodney Tom, one of the Democrats, pledged a new spirit of bipartisanship.

“The public out there is hungry for us to come together, to work together in a collaborative manner and that’s exactly what this coalition is trying to accomplish,” he said.

But as the halfway point of the legislative session approaches, the Washington state Senate has become a hotbed of partisan recriminations.

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Supermajority Ruling
6:20 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Supermajority Ruling Is Personal Defeat For Fiery Initiative Activist

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 5:00 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes is a personal defeat for initiative activist Tim Eyman. Over the years, he sponsored three of the five ballot measures that enacted the supermajority rule.

Outside the Capitol after the ruling, reporters noted that Eyman seemed more subdued than defiant.

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Supermajority Requirement
4:00 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Washington Supreme Court Tosses Out Supermajority Tax Vote Requirement

Cacophony Wikipedia

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 5:05 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington Democrats say it’s a victory for democracy. Republicans call it a defeat for taxpayers. In a major decision Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court tossed out the state’s two-thirds supermajority requirement for raising taxes. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that the voter-approved law violates a provision of the Washington state constitution that requires a simple majority vote in the state legislature to approve bills.

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Supermajority Rule
5:22 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Washington High Court Expected To Rule On Supermajority Votes For Tax Hikes

Cacophony Wikipedia

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 5:11 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Supreme Court is expected to rule Thursday in a case that challenges the two-thirds requirement for tax hikes. A lower court judge previously found the supermajority rule unconstitutional.

If the two-thirds majority for tax hikes which Washington voters have repeatedly approved -- most recently in November with nearly a two-thirds vote -- is thrown out by the court, then really the only remedy for supporters is to try to get a constitutional amendment passed to actually enshrine it in the constitution. That is no easy feat.

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520 Bridge
4:37 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Inslee Says 520 Bridge Pontoon Cracks Shouldn't Derail Funding Package

Washington Dept. of Transportation

Originally published on Wed February 27, 2013 4:27 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he’s “grossly disappointed” by mistakes that led to cracks in the pontoons for the new 520 bridge over Seattle’s Lake Washington. But the Democrat says those problems should not derail his plans for a transportation funding package this year.

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Supermajority Vote
6:02 pm
Tue February 26, 2013

Washington Lawmakers Consider Enshrining Supermajority Votes For Tax Hikes

Credit Northwest News Network

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.

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