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. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C-SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Washington State

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington House Democrats have a new plan to rebalance the state budget and go home. The proposed spending blueprint unveiled Wednesday abandons a controversial delayed payment to school districts. But it would also leave less cash-on-hand in case of an emergency. Majority Leader Pat Sullivan says the House hopes to use the budget to kick start stalled negotiations.

Photo credit: WSDOT/Flickr" / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Republican takeover of the Washington state senate last month could prove costly. A longtime lawyer for the Senate Republican caucus is now demanding $1.75 million in damages. He says to muster enough votes to control the senate, Republicans lifted sanctions against a senator who created a hostile work environment.

Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s deadline for a bipartisan budget deal has come and gone. Lawmakers Tuesday failed to agree on a plan to rebalance the state budget and implement so called government reforms.

Now, House Democrats say they will pass their own budget in hopes of breaking the logjam.

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Republican candidate for governor Rob McKenna is injecting himself into the ongoing turmoil over how to rebalance the state budget. At a news conference , McKenna went after Democratic Speaker of the House Frank Chopp.

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Nearly 4,000 Northwest-based soldiers are about to deploy for nine months to Afghanistan. The Army’s 2nd Stryker Brigade received a formal send off Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma. The departure comes amid continuing fallout from the case of suspected Afghan shooter Sgt. Robert Bales.

Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire says the next 48 hours are critical to reaching a deal to rebalance the state budget. The Democrat resumed signing legislation into law Thursday after holding dozens of bills hostage.

Photo credit: Normanack / Flickr

Here come the bugs. It was a warm winter in the southern half of Idaho, in Montana and points east. That means insects are emerging earlier and will have longer breeding seasons.

Democratic candidate for Washington governor Jay Inslee has reversed course and now says he will participate in a June debate sponsored by the Association of Washington Business, the state's chamber of commerce. Public Radio Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins will moderate the event.

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Just like the rest of us, police officers use cell phones and smart phones. But in an emergency, they still rely on old-fashioned two-way radios to communicate. In Washington, the State Patrol is about to upgrade that radio system to meet new federal standards. The $26 million contract went to Motorola with no opportunity for other companies to bid. Now the project is under fierce criticism from a tech-savvy Washington state lawmaker.

Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Unless Congress acts, 2011 will be the last year Washington residents were able to deduct sales tax from their federal income tax returns. Governor Chris Gregoire signed onto a letter Tuesday asking Congressional leaders to reauthorize the deduction for 2012.

Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The debate over debates continues in the Washington governor’s race. Republican Rob McKenna announced Monday that he will commit to 15 joint appearances with Democrat Jay Inslee. Meanwhile, Inslee made it official: he will not participate in one debate that’s become a tradition in Washington.

Phot credit: Ryan Hallock / U.S. ARMY

Seventeen counts of murder. Six counts of assault and attempted murder. Those are the charges filed Friday against 38 year old Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. He’s the Washington-based soldier accused of killing 9 Afghan children and 8 adults in a massacre earlier this month. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Correspondent Austin Jenkins explains the next step is an Article 32 hearing.

Photo via High Desert Warrior

Major Christopher Ophardt at Lewis-McChord says it’s unclear at this point whether the pretrial hearing will happen in Washington or at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. That’s where Bales is currently being held. Ophardt acknowledged prosecutors at Lewis-McChord recently sent four Washington based soldiers to prison for killing Afghan civilians in 2010.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The 85-cent ATM fee that JPMorgan Chase charges Washington welfare clients could soon be a thing of the past. The state hopes to have a deal by the end of the month with JPMorgan on a new, lower cost contract for electronic benefits. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this update.

PORTLAND -- Last fall we brought you a story about doctors at Northwest medical schools who get paid to speak on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. Thursday, a task force will convene at Oregon Health and Science University. It will review the medical school’s policy on paid speaking gigs and other industry interactions. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

US Senate

A scandal over PTSD diagnoses at Madigan Army Hospital has triggered an Army-wide Inspector General investigation. That’s according to the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh.

Photo source: High Desert Warrior

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas -- The man accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians has had a brief phone conversation with his wife and two children. But efforts are underway to arrange a face-to-face meeting. That’s according to one of the attorneys for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports Bales’ defense team will spend the next two days interviewing him at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Phot credit: High Desert Warrior / Northwest News Network

NPR has confirmed the name of the Washington- based soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians. He is 38-year old Robert Bales of Lake Tapps, Washington .

We still don’t know the name of the Washington-based Army soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians last weekend. But we now know the name of his civilian attorney. John Henry Browne is a high-profile Seattle lawyer who most recently defended the serial burglar known as the “Barefoot Bandit.”

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Nearly a week into Washington’s special session and there’s no sign of a budget deal. Now, an angry Governor Chris Gregoire is refusing to sign dozens of bills in protest over the pace of negotiations.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Lieutenant Colonel from Joint Base Lewis-McChord has been charged with threatening to kill his girlfriend, his estranged wife and his Army boss. The allegations come just days after another Lewis-McChord soldier was accused of a murderous attack on Afghan civilians.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – The U.S. soldier who allegedly massacred at least 16 Afghan civilians is reported to be from Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. Soldiers assigned to the base express shock at the violence and concern about retaliation. Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington legislature has adjourned. But not for long. Late Thursday night, Senate Democrats failed to muster the votes for a plan to re-balance the state budget. That means Washington lawmakers will return to the Capitol to finish their work. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are headed into special session after adjourning their 60-day regular session. The final gavels fell just after midnight Thursday night.

“The 2012 regular session of the 62nd legislature is adjourned sine die.”

Despite the celebration, majority Democrats failed to muster the votes for a plan to re-balance the state budget. That means they will return to the Capitol Monday for an extra inning. Our Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins filed this report overnight.

Photo credit Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The clock is running out on Washington’s 60 day legislative session. Lawmakers must adjourn by midnight Thursday night. But they still haven’t passed a plan to re-balance the state budget.

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Last fall we brought you a series of stories on failures in how the Northwest treats mentally ill youth. Now, a landmark legal agreement announced Wednesday aims to bring about better treatment options for nearly 20,000 Washington kids. These are children who suffer from depression, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire acknowledged Wednesday afternoon that a special session of the legislature will be necessary to re-balance the state budget. But Gregoire says she’s still trying to keep the pressure on lawmakers to come to an agreement.

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A follow-up now to a story we first brought you in December. It was about the default of an under-performing hockey and concert arena in Wenatchee . Governor Chris Gregoire recently signed into law a rescue plan for that project. The new law also aims to prevent future municipal defaults.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s Republican caucuses over the weekend gave Mitt Romney a boost going into Super Tuesday. The straw poll was non-binding, but it still attracted robust turnout from Republicans. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this wrap up from both sides of the Cascades.

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. - It's been a day of high drama in the Washington state Senate. Republicans took control of the chamber with the help of three Democratic colleagues.

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