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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Gun control supporters in Washington have filed an initiative to the legislature to require background checks for all gun sales. The move Tuesday follows a failed effort earlier this year at the Capitol to enact a universal background check measure.

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility is the group behind the initiative. But it was filed by Cheryl Stumbo, a survivor of a 2006 shooting at Seattle’s Jewish Federation.

Christina Salerno / TVW

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will call lawmakers back into a second special session beginning at 9 a.m. Wednesday. He’s also beginning preparations for a government shutdown on July 1 if there’s no deal by then.

Washington’s Liquor Control Board has been inundated with feedback on its proposed marijuana regulations. The deadline to submit comments was Monday. The Board is writing the rules for legalized cannabis. Among the many concerns: the state’s new pot logo.

It’s called the Produced in Washington icon. It’s an outline of the state with a marijuana leaf in the middle. The idea was to require this label be affixed to any package containing marijuana sold at a retail store.

Washington’s overtime legislative session ends at midnight on Tuesday. But there’s still no agreement on a state budget for the next two years.

Over the weekend, the mostly Republican senate majority passed a revised version of its own spending plan, along with a trio of controversial policy measures.

The three policy bills are not new, the Senate passed them during the regular session. The difference is two of them now have referendum clauses, meaning voters would get the final say.

Washington House Democrats have abandoned some proposed tax increases, but not others, in what they call a “significant compromise” budget offer to the Senate. The public unveiling Wednesday of a slimmed down House spending plan comes as the clock is running out on the current overtime session with still no budget deal.

Bluedisk / Wikimedia Commons

There’s one week left in Washington’s special legislative session and still no budget deal. Governor Jay Inslee and the Senate majority caucus held dueling news conferences Tuesday complete with plenty of finger-pointing.

Northwest News Network

A Washington State Patrol trooper has died after the motorcycle he was riding collided with a box truck late Friday afternoon in Skagit County. Trooper Sean O’Connell was on a special assignment related to the collapse of the Skagit River I-5 bridge.

Lobbyists in Washington state routinely fail to properly report dinners out with lawmakers. And dinners over $50 in value do not always show up – as required – on lawmakers’ personal financial statements. Those are among the findings of a public radio investigation – conducted in cooperation with the Associated Press.

The 'Morton Rule'

When retired Senator Bob Morton was in the Washington legislature, he’d go out to lunch with a lobbyist. But he had a rule.

Washington state Senator Mike Carrell of Lakewood has died from complications related to treatment for a pre-leukemia blood disorder. 

Washington state lawmakers are barred from accepting gifts intended to influence their vote. But there’s an exception to that rule. Members of the legislature are allowed to accept free food and drinks if it’s related to their official duties, but only on an “infrequent” basis.

However, a public radio investigation, done in cooperation with the Associated Press, reveals that dozens of state legislators frequently accept meals from lobbyists. And many of them do so even while collecting taxpayer-funded per diem payments.

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