Austin Jenkins

Olympia Correspondent

Austin Jenkins, KPLU’s and N3’s Olympia Reporter, has been covering the Washington State Legislature and regional public policy issues since 2004. Prior to becoming a public radio reporter, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise – to name just a few of his stops. Austin grew up in Seattle and is a graduate of Connecticut College. Austin’s memorable moment in public radio: “There are too many to pick just one: Covering Washington’s contested 2004 gubernatorial election, flying in an Army Reserve Chinook helicopter to the top of Mt. Rainier, spending 24-hours on a tug boat on the Snake River, the list goes on.”  You can also track all the current events at Washinton's capitol on Austin's blog, The Washington Ledge.

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State Budget
11:24 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Budget fallout: Juvenile re-arrest rates spike after parole cut

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 5:39 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – We’re starting to see real world fallout from some of the state budget cuts made in last few years. One of the clearest examples in Washington is juvenile parole. It turns out that the chief suspect in a recent high profile bar shooting had committed a previous murder – but did not qualify for intensive parole supervision because of cutbacks. One study finds juveniles who don’t receive parole are far more likely to be re-arrested within nine months of their release.

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Other News
4:48 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Washington correctional officers to protest following assaults

Washington Department of Corrections

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 5:24 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – It’s been nearly two years since Washington corrections officer Jayme Biendl was murdered on the job. But the union that represents prison guards says safety is still a major concern. The Teamsters plan to rally Thursday at the Capitol to demand safer work conditions. They also want the right to call in an arbitrator to resolve bargaining disputes.

Union representative Michelle Woodrow says since August seven officers have been assaulted at three different Washington prisons.

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Politics
11:04 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Latest Eyman initiative would extend Washington signature-gathering period

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 4:11 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington initiative promoter Tim Eyman says he wants to make it easier to put an initiative on the ballot. Eyman submitted nearly 350,000 signatures Thursday for his latest ballot measure. But critics are suspicious.

Eyman’s so-called "Protect the Initiative Act" would give signature-gatherers new protections from harassment. It would also stretch the time initiative backers have to gather signatures in Washington from six months to one year. By comparison Oregon allows up to two years.

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NPR Story
12:09 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Gregoire's Legacy: Children's Health, Navigating Recession, Gay Marriage

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 3:42 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire will leave office January 16th. During her eight years as governor, the Democrat often referred to herself as a “recovering lawyer.” Polls showed the former attorney general struggled to connect with voters. She could come off as a fierce technocrat. But her two-terms in office were marked by challenges that affected her on a deeply personal level.

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NPR Story
12:05 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Washington unemployment rates drops below 8 percent

Andreas Klinke Johannsen Flickr

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 3:51 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s jobless rate has dropped below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years. The November jobs numbers out Wednesday peg Washington’s unemployment rate at 7.8 percent. That’s down from 8.2 percent in October – the largest one month drop since 1977.

But chief labor economist Joe Elling cautions the state is still far from what he would consider full employment.

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Afghan Civilian Killing
2:32 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Army will seek death penalty against Washington soldier

High Desert Warrior

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 4:01 pm

The top forces commander at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord has decided to seek the death penalty against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. He’s the 39-year old soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year.

Bales is accused of conducting two predawn raids on villages in southern Afghanistan. The victims were mostly women and children and the Army says some of the bodies were burned. Prosecutors had asked for a death penalty trial and top commanders at Lewis-McChord agreed.

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Politics
10:58 am
Wed December 19, 2012

Governor Gregoire's parting budget emphasizes taxes

Gov. Chris Gregoire unveils her final budget before leaving office

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Taxes are a key part of Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s final budget before leaving office . The outgoing Democrat released her proposed two-year spending plan Tuesday as required by law. Gregoire says she wrote her budget with incoming Governor Jay Inslee in mind. But he hasn’t exactly embraced it.

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Marijuana
3:02 pm
Sun December 16, 2012

Obama's pot comments leave more questions than answers

AP

OLYMPIA, Wash. – President Obama’s first comments about marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado leave more questions than answers. The President tells ABC news that federal agents have – quote – “bigger fish to fry” than recreational pot users.

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Politics
7:21 am
Mon December 10, 2012

One party control of Wash. senate could change this week

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington is currently a Democratic one party rule state. But that could change this week. A possible challenge to the Democrats' tenuous control of the Washington state senate could emerge. Senate Republicans have called a news conference Monday morning at the Capitol.

A bipartisan group of senators is expected make an announcement regarding the leadership of the state’s upper chamber. All it would take is two Democratic senators to join with Republicans to create a philosophical majority.

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Marijuana legalization
7:04 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Wash. Liquor Board Has One Year To Catch Up To Pot Legalization

Drug Enforcement Agency

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 10:53 am

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Pot becomes legal in Washington on Thursday. But state officials have not even begun to write the complicated rules for who can grow it, process it and sell. That year-long process begins Wednesday.

By the end of this week, adult possession of up to one ounce of usable marijuana will no longer be a crime in Washington. But Initiative 502 -- approved by voters in November -- does much more than decriminalize possession. It requires the state to license and regulate marijuana producers, processors and retailers.

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2012 elections
3:00 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

They know if you’ve voted or not, and that’s not all

You get information from the Washington Secretary of State about candidates ... and the candidates get information about you.
Secretary of State

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In this era of mail-in balloting, political campaigns have become a bit like Santa Claus: He may know if you’ve been bad or good. But, they know whether you’ve voted yet or not - and who you’re likely to support.

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Gubernatorial Debate
10:23 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Personal attacks punctuate final McKenna, Inslee debate

Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna meet in Seattle for the final gubernatorial debate before the election.
Bettina Hansen The Seattle Times

The fifth and final debate between Washington’s candidates for governor was punctuated by personal attacks. Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna met in Seattle Tuesday night. The format encouraged them to engage each other.

One of the most personal exchanges came when the candidates had a chance to pose a question of each other. Republican McKenna asked Inslee to explain why the Democratic candidate has yet to pick up a single daily newspaper endorsement.

Inslee responded that he doesn’t work for the newspapers.

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Washington Gubernatorial Race
4:17 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

McKenna, Inslee vow no new taxes with caveats

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Ballots are about to go out in Washington. In the race for governor, both candidates are pledging to veto tax hikes. But Republican Rob McKenna and Democrat Jay Inslee also leave themselves some wiggle room.

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Referendum 74
12:26 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Checking the facts behind both sides of same-sex marriage ads

Simply Boaz Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Last minute money is pouring into the ballot fight over same-sex marriage in Washington. Those dollars are buying television ads on both sides of the issue. So what claims are the campaigns making?

Gay rights advocates say Referendum 74 is about marriage equality. But the first TV ad from the Preserve Marriage Washington campaign disputes that notion.

Announcer: “Referendum 74 is not about equality. Gays and lesbians already have the same legal rights as married couples.”

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Gubernatorial Debate
10:10 am
Wed October 3, 2012

Washington’s 'Blue Tide' creates challenge for McKenna

Gubernatorial candidates, Jay Inslee (left) and Rob McKenna met last night in Yakima for their third debate. Two more are scheduled before election day.

As the presidential candidates prepare for tonight's debate, polls show President Obama averages a 15-point advantage in Washington over Republican rival Mitt Romney. Washington’s open race for governor is much closer.

The two candidates in that contest met Tuesday night in Yakima for a fiery third debate. But the polls highlight a reality for Republican Rob McKenna: he’ll have to woo a good number of Obama voters if he’s to become Washington’s first GOP governor in nearly 30 years.

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