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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Army Veteran
6:03 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Combat Vet With PTSD Booted From Army, Barred From Healthcare

Army veteran Jarrid Starks, with his medications to treat PTSD and a hat that reads “Warning this vet is medicated for your protection."
Photo by Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – In Salem, a former Army staff sergeant named Jarrid Starks has run out of the medications that keep him stable. He has severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental and physical wounds of war. But he’s currently not eligible for veterans’ health benefits that would include prescription refills. That’s because Starks was kicked out of the Army for bad behavior. He’s far from alone. Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this story in collaboration with the Seattle Times.

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No Welfare ATM Fee
6:07 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

Wash. Welfare Clients Will No Longer Pay 85-Cent ATM Fee

JPMorgan Chase will no longer charge Washington welfare clients $.85 to withdraw cash at an ATM under a renegotiated contract.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

JPMorgan Chase will no longer charge Washington welfare clients $.85 to withdraw cash at an ATM. That fee is abolished in a renegotiated contract the state has signed with the New York-based bank to continue providing cash benefits electronically.

A Washington cash assistance client named Therese McLeod first brought the ATM fee to our attention in May of last year. She was outraged that JPMorgan didn’t disclose the fee at the ATM.

“Sounds like a racket to me. Don’t we have laws against that?” McLeod asked.

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McKenna's Education Funding Plan
6:24 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

McKenna Proposes Cap On Non-Education Spending To Fund Education

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna outlines his education funding plan in Tacoma.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Washington Republican candidate for governor Rob McKenna proposes to increase funding for public schools by capping all non-education state spending. That’s just one piece of an education funding plan he unveiled Tuesday.

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PTSD Diagnosis Revision
4:27 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Army Changes PTSD Diagnosis Process

Madigan Army Medical Center located on Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.
Madigan Army Medical Center press office

The U.S. Army is revising the way it diagnoses soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder. In the Northwest, it means the Army will no longer use a special psychiatric unit at Madigan Army Medical Center near Tacoma.

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Medical Interpreters
6:04 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Phone And Video Could Save Medical Interpreter Costs In Wash.

It happens more than 200,000 times a year in doctor’s offices throughout Washington. An interpreter is called in to help bridge a language barrier between the physician and patient. Soon though, that interpreter may join the appointment by phone or even video. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins explains.

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Warning To Young Drivers
4:25 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

Warning Letter To Young Drivers Rankles Some Parents

Some parents don’t appreciate the letter of reprimand sent to young drivers by the Washington Department of Licensing.
Claire Thompson Flickr

Get a traffic ticket, get a letter of reprimand from the Department of Licensing. That’s how it works in Washington if you are a driver between the ages of 16 and 21. The letter-writing campaign is designed to reduce crashes among younger drivers. But some parents don’t appreciate it.

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Washington Job Growth
6:33 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Wash. Gains 10,000 Jobs, But Jobless Rate Still 8.3 Percent

U.S., Washington and Seattle unemployment rates, seasonally adjusted, from June 2007 through June 2012.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Washington has gained back more than half the jobs it lost during the Great Recession. The state reached that benchmark last month with the gain of 10,000 new jobs.

Even so, Washington’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in June at 8.3 percent. That’s because the universe of people actively looking for work is also growing.

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Brando Beach
6:22 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Brando Beach: Washington’s Pension System Goes Tropical And Global

Marlon Brando’s private atoll Tetiaroa as seen from the air.
Photo courtesy Pacific Beachcomber

There’s a government office in Olympia where employees travel the globe and titans of Wall Street are regular visitors. The singer Bono even dropped in once, after a concert.

We’re talking about the Washington State Investment Board. Its job is to maximize returns on an $85 billion investment portfolio. To do that the Board invests in some very exotic places, as Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins found.

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Bizarre Incidents At State Capitols
4:33 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Bizarre Incidents At Wash. And Oregon State Capitols

The three-foot Samurai sword recovered from a man arrested near the Oregon Capitol building on Saturday.
Oregon State Police

The Washington and Oregon state capitols have been the scenes of two bizarre incidents in recent days. Both involved apparently mentally unstable men. One had a gallon of gasoline, the other wielded a samurai sword.

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Northwest Soldier Casualties
6:51 am
Mon July 16, 2012

Northwest War Casualties Mount As Fighting Season Heats Up

Sgt. Michael Ristau, 25, of Rockford, Illinois is the 19th Washington-based soldier to die in Afghanistan this year.
Photo courtesy U.S. Army

The summer fighting season in Afghanistan continues to claim the lives of Northwest soldiers. So far this year, 19 soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord have been killed. The Army announced the latest death over the weekend. Correspondent Austin Jenkins has more.

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