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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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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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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