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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Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The wildfires from this past summer are out. Now Washington state officials are recognizing some four-hundred prison inmates who helped out on the fire lines.

There was a celebration Thursday at the Cedar Creek Corrections Center near Olympia. Inmate firefighter William Criss worked on the Carlton Complex, the largest wildfire in Washington state history.

“In all honestly it was just the extreme behavior of the fire that we’ll remember the most, I mean it was blowing up everywhere,” Criss said. “You’re watching it every day- plumes going up here and plumes going up there.”

timlewisnm / Flickr

Political Action Committees in Washington have spent more than $14 million so far this year. The top spenders are teachers, trial lawyers, SEIU and a business PAC called Enterprise Washington. But there are also dozens of smaller PACs that have been set up for just this election year. They're sometimes called "PACs-in-a-box."

The state of Washington is going back to federal court over clean-up at Hanford -- the nation’s largest nuclear waste site.

M Glasgow / Flickr

The National Rifle Association says it’s “very committed” to defeating a background check measure on Washington’s November ballot. But the gun rights group says it has no plans to compete financially with the campaign in favor of Initiative 594.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

This November, Washington voters will decide whether to require background checks for person-to-person gun sales.

Initiative 594 would close what gun control advocates used to call the “gun show loophole.” But these days, much of the unregulated gun trade is happening online.

Piutus / Flickr

The Washington Education Association has taken in $1.5 million this year, making it the head of the pack when it comes to money raised by political action committees.

Brett Levin / Flickr

People are lining up to buy legal marijuana in Washington. Now the question is how to convince kids not to touch the stuff. A panel of experts briefed Governor Jay Inslee Wednesday on the topic of youth marijuana use.

Scare tactics like “Reefer Madness” are out. Peer-to-peer messaging is in.

John Wiesman is Washington’s Secretary of Health. He told Governor Inslee he wants young people to help develop Washington’s marijuana prevention campaign.

MathTeacherGuy / flickr

The state of Washington paid out nearly $50 million last fiscal year to people who were somehow harmed by the state. The numbers were released Tuesday in an annual report on “tort claim payouts.”

Snohomish County / Flickr

43 people lost their lives in the Oso landslide in March. The six-month anniversary is Monday, September 22nd. So far, nearly 60 legal claims have been filed against the state of Washington stemming from the slide.

So far this year, business interests have contributed more than $16 million to political campaigns and committees in Washington.

But gifts from individual donors eclipse even that. That’s because a small group of wealthy people are writing large checks.

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