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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Wash. Senate Session
5:28 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Opening Prayer In Washington Senate Stirs Marriage Controversy

On an already tense first day of session in the Washington State Senate, the opening prayer became a source of controversy. It had to do with the issue of same-sex marriage.

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Washinton State Senate
4:39 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Democrats Officially Lose Control Of Washington Senate

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 4:30 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. –A new governing coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats is now in control of the Washington state senate. The power shift happened Monday as the legislature convened for a 105-day budget writing session.

The day began as the first day of session always does with plenty of formalities – including an a cappella rendition of the national anthem.

But that harmony wouldn’t last. Soon Democrats lost a vote to lead the Senate as the majority party. That paved the way for the new philosophical majority to introduce its own governing rules.

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Wash. State Cabinet
4:14 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Shipbuilder Executive To Lead Washington Social Services Agency

Shawn Murphy Flickr

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 4:02 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A shipbuilding executive with no social work experience will head Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services. Governor-elect Jay Inslee announced that appointment and four other cabinet picks Thursday.

Inslee’s choice for DSHS Secretary is former Democratic State Senator Kevin Quigley. He’s far from an agency insider. In fact most recently he was a president with Vigor Industrial, a major shipbuilder. At one point Quigley ran the company’s Everett shipyard.

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Wash. Prison Official
4:00 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Ethics Hearing Begins For Former Top Washington Prisons Official

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 3:26 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – An ethics hearing is underway for a former top Washington prison official. In opening statements Wednesday, the state accused Belinda Stewart of misusing state resources. Her attorney calls it a “political prosecution.”

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Wash. Correctional Officers
5:35 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Washington Correctional Officers To Protest Following Assaults

Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl was murdered on the job nearly two years ago.
Credit Washington Department of Corrections

It’s been nearly two years since Washington corrections officer Jayme Biendl was murdered on the job. But the union that represents prison guards says safety is still a major concern. The Teamsters plan to rally Thursday at the Capitol to demand safer work conditions. They also want the right to call in an arbitrator to resolve bargaining disputes.

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JBLM Helicopter Crash
5:42 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Mid-Air Crash At JBLM Brought Down Helicopters In 2011

OH58 Kiowa Warrior
Credit U.S. Army

A new Army report confirms it was a mid-air crash that brought down two Army helicopters at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord a year ago. It happened during a night vision training exercise.

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Gregoire's Education Legacy
4:54 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

On Gregoire’s Watch, Key Education Measures Didn’t Budge Much

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire.
Credit Wiki commons use Korribot

One measure of success for governors is their ability to get better results out of schools. As Washington

Governor Chris Gregoire prepares to leave office, the state’s high school graduation and dropout rates have improved, but not a lot. And there’s still a significant achievement gap between white and non-white students.

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Death Penalty Sought For Sgt. Bales
4:23 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Bales Defense Team Calls Army's Decision 'Disappointing'

High Desert Warrior

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 4:01 pm

The top forces commander at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord has decided to seek the death penalty against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. He’s the 39-year old soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year.

Bales is accused of conducting two predawn raids on villages in southern Afghanistan. The victims were mostly women and children and the Army says some of the bodies were burned. Prosecutors had asked for a death penalty trial and top commanders at Lewis-McChord agreed.

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Wash. Unemployment Drops
4:16 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Washington Unemployment Rates Drops Below 8 Percent

Andreas Klinke Johannsen Flickr

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 3:51 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s jobless rate has dropped below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years. The November jobs numbers out Wednesday peg Washington’s unemployment rate at 7.8 percent. That’s down from 8.2 percent in October – the largest one month drop since 1977.

But chief labor economist Joe Elling cautions the state is still far from what he would consider full employment.

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Gregoire's Final Budget
4:47 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Washington Governor’s Parting Budget Emphasizes Taxes

Washingon Gov. Chris Gregoire
Credit Credit Austin Jenkins

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Taxes are a key part of Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s final budget before leaving office . The outgoing Democrat released her proposed two-year spending plan Tuesday as required by law. Gregoire says she wrote her budget with incoming Governor Jay Inslee in mind. But he hasn’t exactly embraced it.

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