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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A new rule that lets transgender people in Washington choose whether to use the men’s or women’s facilities will stand -- for now. The state Senate Wednesday afternoon narrowly defeated an effort to repeal the rule.

In 2005, Washington state set a goal: Cut homelessness statewide by 50 percent by 2015. Ten years later the results are in and they’re far short of the target. Homelessness was reduced by only 22.5 percent statewide.

Some people ride the bus to work. Some rent a bus to party on. So-called party buses have been in the news a lot in recent years because of accidents and deaths across the country.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has cancelled a series of regularly scheduled meetings with the Republican leader of the state Senate. The move follows Friday’s surprise vote by Senate Republicans to oust Inslee’s Secretary of Transportation.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took the gloves off Monday and launched a full-throated attack on Senate Republicans for sacking his Secretary of Transportation in a surprise move last Friday afternoon. 

Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson is out of a job. The Republican-led Washington Senate voted Friday afternoon not to confirm Peterson three years after she was appointed by Democratic Governor Jay Inslee.

According to the Washington Department of Licensing, 380,000 drivers have suspended licenses. Many of them are low-income and lost their license because they failed to pay traffic tickets. They often have unpaid tickets from several jurisdictions and they’re likely to drive even without a license.

Two of the three brothers accused in last week’s fatal shooting at a Seattle homeless encampment have juvenile records. But neither qualified for supervised parole after they were released from juvenile lock-up.

You’ve heard of sex offender registries. The state of Washington also has a registry for people convicted of gun-related felonies. But it’s hardly used.

Schools shooters often threaten violence before they act. But according to an FBI guide to school shootings, students who hear these threats rarely tell an adult.

Washington prison officials have said a computer programming error led to the accidental early release of more than 3,000 inmates over 13 years. Documents obtained by public radio reveal that a decade ago sentencing calculation errors plagued a major IT upgrade.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he’s “undaunted” after a partisan dust up over school funding. The Democrat Thursday sounded a hopeful note that lawmakers will find common ground.

Allowing transgender people access to the restroom or locker room of their choice stirs strong feelings. Advocates on both sides of that debate packed a hearing room in Olympia Wednesday.

The Washington Department of Corrections has finished re-calculating the sentences of 1,500 inmates who were potentially released early since 2011. Of those, more than 100 must return to prison to finish their sentences.

Washington Lt. Governor Brad Owen has removed state Senator Pam Roach from a task force on human trafficking. Owen said Monday he took the action after receiving several complaints about the senator’s conduct at a December meeting of the task force.

Working in a prison is a dangerous job. Inmates outnumber officers and fights are common. Fourteen-year veteran correctional officer Patrick McPherson said over the course of his career he’s been assaulted four or five times.

The Washington House has pledged to take action next year to end the reliance on local levies to fund schools. The vote Monday also directs the 2017 legislature to fully fund competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and staff.

Is the tax on legal marijuana in Washington too high?

Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife will formally acknowledge Friday that it violated the constitutional rights of two brothers who commercially fished the Columbia River.

The Washington Supreme Court will likely decide the fate of a voter-approved tax-limiting measure. A judge in King County ruled Thursday that Initiative 1366, approved in November, is unconstitutional.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is renewing his push to raise the smoking and vaping age to 21. The Democrat announced the bipartisan effort Wednesday at a Capitol news conference.

The political showdown over the accidental release of more than 3,000 Washington inmates continues. Senate Republicans moved quickly Tuesday to approve two subpoenas seeking records from the governor’s office and the Department of Corrections.

Washington’s state ethics board has dismissed complaints against several current and former officials at the state Department of Commerce. Three of those former staffers now work for clean energy start-up companies that are benefiting from a state grant program.

The March trial of indicted Washington state Auditor Troy Kelley could take four to six weeks. That’s according to proposed jury questionnaires filed with the federal court.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee is defending his investigation of the accidental early release of more than 3,000 prison inmates. The Democrat responded Thursday after Republican state senators announced they plan to use their subpoena power to conduct their own inquiry.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has issued an emergency order to stop the tunneling project along Seattle’s downtown waterfront. The tunnel will replace the aging Highway 99 viaduct.

For the third time in less than a year, a Washington state employee has been accused of having sex with a juvenile offender. The most recent arrest happened this week at a state juvenile lock-up in Chehalis.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee used his State of the State speech to pledge accountability when government fails. The Democrat’s comments Tuesday follow the early release of more than 3,000 prison inmates because of a computer coding error.

Elaine Thompson, ASSOCIATED PRESS / AP Images

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has endorsed a proposed ballot measure that would raise the state minimum wage and require employers to provide paid sick leave. The Democrat used his state of the state address  Tuesday to pledge his support for the measure filed this week.

It’s a new year, but the saga continues. The state of Washington has missed a deadline to provide competency services to jail inmates within seven days. And in some cases wait times are getting worse not better.

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