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."


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

Oregon Transit Leader Tapped As Washington’s New Transportation Secretary


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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Wash. Governor's Schedule
4:20 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Washington Governor’s Schedule Includes Lots Of Pot Talk

Washington Governor Jay Inslee gives reporters and cameras a tour of his office following a news conference.
Credit Austin Jenkins

Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s first weeks in office were highlighted by marijuana legalization and meetings with key Democratic constituencies. That’s according to copies of his schedule released to our Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins under a public records request.

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Healthcare Costs
6:23 am
Mon February 11, 2013

Washington State Pays For More Than Half Of Births

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 4:42 pm

SHELTON, Wash. - It’s one of the most vexing problems state lawmakers face: how to curb the rising cost of healthcare. In Washington, there’s one specific line item in the healthcare budget that’s startling, but few at the Capitol are talking about: taxpayers now foot the bill for more than half of all births in Washington. But why is that number is so high?

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Medical Marijuana
5:07 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Medical Marijuana Tax Proposed To Address Black Market Concerns

Brianna Butterfield Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 5:07 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Three powerful Democrats in the Washington state House are proposing a new 25 percent tax on medical marijuana. The measure introduced Thursday is designed to avoid an underground market for medicinal pot once recreational marijuana is legally sold in stores.

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U.S. Secretary of Interior
4:36 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Washington Governor Calls REI CEO Jewell A Friend


Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 4:05 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Jay Inslee calls President Obama’s choice for Secretary of the Interior “a friend.” The President Wednesday announced REI CEO Sally Jewell as his choice to replace Ken Salazar.

Inslee says Jewell -- a Seattle-area native -- believes natural resource protection and economic development can go hand-in-hand.

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Medicaid Expansion
4:14 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Washington Governor Urges Expansion Of Medicaid 'Quickly'

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 3:50 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. –Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants state lawmakers to move “quickly” to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. At a news conference Wednesday, the Democratic governor described expansion as a “no brainer” that will save the state money.

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