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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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G.O.P. presidential candidates are looking for a boost from Washington’s caucuses this Saturday. It’s the last contest before Super Tuesday. But as one longtime party insider cautions, there won’t be any real winner this weekend.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – An insider’s game. That’s how open government advocates describe the Washington legislature as it heads into its final days. They complain of last minute public hearings, so-called “ghost bills” with only a title and no details, and quick votes on deals negotiated behind-the-scenes. These shortcuts save time. But critics say they effectively shut the public out of the process.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are hurtling toward a deadline to adjourn next Thursday. Majority Democrats still have to agree on a plan to re-balance the state budget. Tuesday, Senate Democrats unveiled a blueprint that includes a controversial move: paying a couple of bills a day late.

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In the Washington state Senate, a short-lived era of bipartisan cooperation on the budget appears over. Majority Democrats Tuesday will unveil their plan to rebalance the budget. But Republican leaders say they won’t be there.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington voters consistently send Democratic majorities to the statehouse. But four times over the past 20 years they’ve also voted to require a supermajority of the legislature to raise taxes. Most recently, in 2010. Now a group of Democratic lawmakers and their allies are challenging the constitutionality of that two-thirds rule. Oral arguments are scheduled for March 9th. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins previews the case.

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he opposes gay marriage, but is comfortable letting voters decide the issue for their own state. Gingrich made his comments Friday during a visit to the Washington capitol. It’s the second time in two weeks a Republican presidential candidate has campaigned under the dome.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – A bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers wants JPMorgan Chase to lower the ATM fee it charges cash welfare recipients. Currently these low- income clients pay 85-cents each time they withdraw cash. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports on how the fees add up.

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WaOLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington legislature has three weeks to rebalance the state budget. One way House Democrats propose to do that is to eliminate a series of payments that currently go to cities and counties. That proposal emerged Tuesday. Reaction from local governments was swift.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – Majority Democrats in the Washington state House have unveiled a plan to rebalance the state’s budget. The spending blueprint released Tuesday does not call for a general tax increase. But it would delay a massive payment to public schools. It also relies on savings from reduced demand for state services.

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MarriAs promised, gay rights activists have posted the names and addresses of more than 100,000 Washington voters in an online searchable database. These voters signed petitions in 2009 to repeal Washington’s “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law.

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – Slightly up. That’s the upshot of Thursday’s Washington revenue forecast. This is the quarterly report that tells budget writers how much money they have to work with. Steve Lerch is Washington’s interim economic forecaster. He told a panel of lawmakers they can expect $96 million more than they expected to balance the budget. Lerch said Washington’s recovery continues, but it’s slow.

Photo credit: Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

BalaOLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrats in the Washington legislature are suddenly hopeful they can rebalance the state budget without asking voters to approve a tax hike. Their optimism comes even before they see the latest revenue forecast out Thursday.

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