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.

Ways to Connect

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.

Washington voters could decide in November on a combined minimum wage and sick leave measure . A union-backed campaign calling itself “Raise Up Washington” filed an initiative Monday to raise the state’s base wage to $13.50 an hour by 2020.

Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke faced questions from state lawmakers Monday as the 2016 legislative session convened. The head of Washington’s prison system called the accidental early release of more than 3,000 inmates the “largest single error” in his agency’s history.

Washington lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday for a short election-year session. They say getting bipartisan agreement on a school funding plan is a top priority.

A Washington prison inmate who was accidentally released early and then locked back up has been granted a rare medical furlough. Bobby Davis said his re-release from prison this week came as a welcome surprise.

According to the latest non-partisan Elway Poll released Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee leads his top Republican challenger by nine points. Pollster Stuart Elway said a nine point race at this early stage seems like a tight race.

A member of the Washington National Guard has emerged as a vocal supporter of the armed occupiers in eastern Oregon.

Staff Sgt. Maureen Peltier has served in the Guard since 2000. She even deployed to Iraq. But over the years she says she’s come to believe that corruption and a toxic environment exists in many parts of the U.S. government. Thus her interest in what she calls the patriot movement.

“I’ve been watching the patriot movement quietly for years while serving,” Peltier said.

Heavy rains in the lowlands and heavy snow in the mountains are making holiday travel tricky.

How much would you pay to see Adele in concert? Tickets to her sold-out Seattle shows in July are selling on StubHub for as much as $8,500.

Fans may be frustrated, but it’s perfectly legal.

As Washington’s prison population swells, there are renewed calls for a state prisons ombudsman. Legislation to create the position was filed Wednesday in advance of the January legislative session.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will roll out his proposed update to the state’s two-year budget on Thursday. One of the chief spending items will be paying for last summer’s fire season.

It has taken five years, but low-copper and copper-free brakes are now available in Washington. That’s because of a 2010 law designed to phase out the use of copper and other toxics in brake pads.

Washington’s voter-approved background check law for private gun sales has been in effect for a year. But so far there’ve been no reports of arrests or prosecutions.

Indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley suddenly returned to office Tuesday, pending his federal criminal trial in March for money laundering and tax evasion. The first-term Democrat is also under investigation by the state for hiring a former business associate to work in the auditor’s office.

Austin Jenkins / / Northwest News Network

Indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley has returned to office. The first-term Democrat abruptly ended his seven month leave of absence  Tuesday. He says it’s because of efforts to impeach him.

A bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers has introduced a resolution to impeach indicted State Auditor Troy Kelley. That announcement Monday follows months of calls for the first-term Democrat to resign after being charged with possession of stolen funds and tax evasion unrelated to his duties in office.

In the second day of a pretrial hearing in the case of indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley, defense attorney Angelo Calfo continued to question the lead FBI investigator in the case. Calfo is seeking to undermine key foundational elements of the theft, money laundering and tax evasion case against Kelley even before it reaches a scheduled trial in March. 

The attorney for indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley aggressively sought to undermine the case against his client during a pretrial hearing in Tacoma.

Indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is scheduled to be back in court Tuesday. He’s fighting to get back nearly $1 million the feds seized in September.

Federal agents started investigating indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley before he was elected to that office. That’s according to a document prosecutors filed Tuesday in federal court.

Pages