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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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.

The Washington state Capitol campus could soon be a no-fly-zone for drones. The agency that oversees the 486-acre campus is considering a strict ban.

Sore losers. That’s what Washington anti-tax activist Tim Eyman called opponents of Initiative 1366 Tuesday. This after they filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court to block the tax-limiting measure voters recently passed.

The search for a missing bow hunter in central Washington has been temporarily called off because of worsening weather. This follows a rare call out for volunteer searchers to help in the effort.

Pro-refugee demonstrators disrupted a planned rally at the Washington state Capitol Friday against allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

Washington lawmakers are meeting at the state Capitol this week to get ready for the 2016 legislative session. If lawmakers are back in town, that means lobbyists are too. So why squander the moment?

Washington prison inmates who suffer from “serious and painful medical conditions” are often denied adequate healthcare. That’s the allegation contained in a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle this week.

For the first time, prosecutors have obtained a federal Lacey Act conviction for trafficking in poached Northwest maple wood.

September’s deadly Aurora Bridge accident in Seattle and the 2015 fire season are on the agenda as Washington lawmakers return to the Capitol on Thursday and Friday.

Heavy rains have flooded the one road in and out of La Push on the Washington coast. That means the 300-400 residents of the Quileute Indian Reservation are cut off.

Opponents of Initiative 1366, a tax-limiting measure passed by Washington voters on November 3, said they will try to get an injunction to keep the new law from taking effect. That announcement Thursday comes as the Washington Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that allowed the measure to remain on the ballot.

Prosecutors in Washington state want voters to decide in 2016 whether to keep or repeal the death penalty. It’s been 40 years since Washington voters last weighed-in on the death penalty. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg says the time has come for voters to have another say on the subject.

A Washington state senator says he will try again in January to convince his colleagues to ban marine mammal shows. That announcement Monday came as SeaWorld said it will end orca whale performances at its San Diego theme park next year.

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