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."


Referendum 74
4:24 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

R-74 Campaign Hopes For Boost From President's Marriage Comments

President Barack Obama endorsed same sex marriage in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America.
Photo courtesy of the White House Northwest News Network

Northwest gay rights supporters are cheering President Obama’s comments that he thinks same sex couples should be able to marry. But organizers of a petition drive to repeal Washington’s new marriage equality law hope to capitalize on the President’s new stance.

Read more
DSHS Morale
4:56 pm
Mon May 7, 2012

Morale At Washington’s Biggest State Agency Plummets

Department of Health and Human Services employees are lacking zeal at work.

The Great Recession has taken its toll on morale at Washington’s largest state agency. Employee satisfaction at the Department of Social and Health Services has plummeted over the past couple of years. That’s according to a new employee survey.

Read more
JBLM Helicopter Crash
5:08 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Grieving Mother Calls JBLM Midair Helicopter Crash “Preventable”

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Frank Buoniconti Deployed To Iraq and Afghanistan And Was The Recipient Of The Distinguished Flying Cross.
Photo Courtesy: Silvia Buoniconti Northwest News Network

“Heartbreaking” and “Preventable.” That’s how the mother of an Army helicopter pilot describes the midair crash that killed her son and three others last December. It happened during a nighttime training exercise at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord. A report released this week finds that commanders knew about radar and radio limitations in the training area where the crash happened. But apparently those communication gaps went unresolved – despite other near misses.

Read more
Brown Won't Run
4:37 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Wash. Senate Majority Leader Stepping Down, May Run Statewide In Future

Wash. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown.
Courtesy Brown's office Northwest News Network

One of the most powerful members of the Washington state legislature won’t seek re-election this year. Senate Democratic Leader Lisa Brown made her surprise announcement Thursday at the Capitol. But she didn’t rule out a future run for statewide office.

Read more
Wash. Budget Signed
4:44 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Wash. Gov To Candidates For Gov: New Education Tax Needed

Governor Chris Gregoire Poses For An Official Photo With Lawmakers After Signing The Newly Rebalanced State Budget
Photo credit: Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has a message for both leading candidates to replace her next year. The state will need to find a new, dedicated source of funding for education. The Democrat made her comments Wednesday at a ceremony to sign a newly rebalanced state budget.

Read more
6:21 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Lawsuit Likely Over Roll-Your-Own

Governor Gregoire to sign roll-your-own cigarettes tax.
Northwest News Network

The burgeoning roll-your-own cigarette industry in Washington is preparing to do legal battle against the state. Governor Chris Gregoire is expected to sign into law Wednesday a new tax on do-it-yourself smokes. That will likely trigger a lawsuit.

Read more
Army Helicopter Crash
5:13 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Human Error Blamed In JBLM Midair Collision That Killed 4 In December

Army vehicles leave the crash site near Rainier, Washington.
Photo credit: Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Pilot negligence - not a mechanical failure- led to a deadly midair crash last December of two Army helicopters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord . But poor communication and moonlight might also have been factors in the nighttime accident. Correspondent Austin Jenkins has details on an internal investigation released Monday.

Read more
Helicopter Crash
4:01 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Army Investigation: Midair Crash Killed Four Helicopter Pilots In December

OH58 Kiowa Warrior
Photo courtesy of US Army

For the first time, the U.S. Army is confirming it was a midair collision that brought down two helicopters last December at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The results of an internal investigation into the crash that killed four pilots was released Monday. It blames pilot error, not a mechanical failure.

Read more
5:06 pm
Thu April 26, 2012

Soldiers At Joint Base Lewis-McChord Will Get New Layer Of Oversight

Army Secretary John McHugh At Joint Base Lewis-McChord To Announce New Oversight Of Combat Troops.
Photo credit: Austin Jenkins

Combat brigades at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord will soon get a new layer of supervision. That announcement from the Secretary of the Army comes nearly two months after a Washington-based soldier allegedly killed 17 Afghan civilians.

Read more
Wash. Liqour
5:38 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Mini-Mart, Gas Station Owners Win Piece Of Wash. Liquor Business

Smaller sized liqour stores auctioned by Washington State could operate like a mini-mart.
Photo Credit: Tom Banse

Backers of last year’s initiative to privatize liquor sales in Washington said the new law would avoid a raft of new corner booze outlets. But in this week’s auction of state run liquor stores, mini-mart and gas station owners won a piece of the action.

Read more