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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Marijuana Legalization
5:37 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Are Northwest Voters Ready To Legalize Pot?

It looks like voters in both Oregon and Washington will decide this fall whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Backers of an Oregon ballot measure submitted a final batch of petitions Friday to the Secretary of State. In Washington, a pot legalization initiative has already qualified for the ballot. The question now: are Northwest voters ready to say ‘okay’ to getting high? Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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Washington Initiatives
6:01 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Initiative Deadline Arrives In Wash., Oregon

"Groundhog Day.” That’s what Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman says it going to feel like Friday. This will be the third time Eyman has submitted signatures for a ballot measure to require a supermajority vote of the legislature to raise taxes. Friday is the deadline in Washington and Oregon for initiative sponsors seeking to qualify for the November ballot. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has this preview.

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Methadone Addiction
6:08 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Methadone Deaths Down, But NW Expert Warns Of Shift To Other Drugs

Overdose deaths from a popular painkiller called Methadone appear to have peaked nationally. That’s according to a CDC report released Tuesday. The Northwest has one of the highest Methadone prescription rates in the country. Correspondent Austin Jenkins has more.

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Mental Health System For Veterans
5:14 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Two Years Later, Former Soldier "Vindicated" By PTSD Diagnosis

Former Army SSG Richard Kellar was recently re-assessed for PTSD. The result was a positive diagnosis.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Washington Sen. Patty Murray has introduced legislation to overhaul the mental health system for war veterans. The move comes in the wake of a scandal at Washington’s Madigan Army Hospital. Doctors there incorrectly told dozens of soldiers they didn’t suffer from PTSD. One of those soldiers was Richard Kellar.

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Forest Fire Warning
6:37 am
Mon July 2, 2012

First Forest Health Hazard Warning For Wash. Expected

Washington’s Lands Commissioner is expected to declare the state’s first ever forest health hazard warning Monday. The formal declaration comes amid growing concern about the potential for a catastrophic fire – not unlike what we’ve seen in recent days in Colorado. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports.

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Public Defender Caseload
7:34 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Wash. Public Defender: New Caseload Standards “Absurd”

Shocking cases of inadequate public defense in Washington have led the state Supreme Court to take an unusual step. The high court has imposed a mandatory cap on the number of cases lawyers for the poor can take. You might assume public defenders would be cheering – finally they’re going to get relief. But in fact some lawyers are downright offended and angry. Correspondent Austin Jenkins profiles one.

It’s a Wednesday afternoon at Lewis County District Court. Out in the hallway, attorney Joseph P. Enbody is meeting with clients.

Enbody: “Are you Ms. Tran?”

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Health Care Ruling Reaction
6:48 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Wash. Governor Applauds Health Care Ruling

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire comments on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

“Happy and relieved.” Those are the words Washington Governor Chris Gregoire uses to describe the Supreme Court’s decision on health care. The Democrat Thursday told a personal story about a health scare in her own family.

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Juvenile Offender's Clemency Plea
4:46 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Attorney: Court Ruling Should Bolster Barry Massey Clemency Petition

Marina owner Paul Wang was murdered by juveniles Barry Massey and Michael Harris In 1987.
the Wang family

Before Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire leaves office in January, she will decide whether to commute the life sentence of convicted killer Barry Massey. His attorneys hope this week’s Supreme Court ruling on life without parole for juveniles will bolster their case for clemency.

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Postal Hunger Strike
4:46 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Postal Workers Stage Hunger Strike Over Cuts

Seattle postal worker David Yao pickets in Olympia as part of a nationwide hunger strike to protest cuts to mail service.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Four Northwest postal workers are taking dramatic action to bring attention to cuts to mail service. They’re staging a hunger strike this week. It’s part of a national campaign by unionized post office employees.

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Washington's Revenue Forecast
5:05 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Wash. Revenue Projections Holding Steady

Washington's revenue forecast has seen a slight uptick, but still remains essentially flat.
Visitor 7 Wikimedia Commons

Washington’s economy remains essentially flat. That’s the takeaway from Washington’s quarterly revenue forecast out Wednesday. It shows an increase of about a $150 million through the current two-year budget cycle.

That slight uptick in projected revenues is mostly due to legislative policy decisions this year like fund transfers, not the economy.

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