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.

Pages

DUI legislation
8:01 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Proposed DUI crackdown gets pushback on multiple fronts

An ignition interlock is a breath test device linked to a vehicle’s ignition system.
U.S. Department of Transportation

Gov. Jay Inslee and lawmakers want to move swiftly to crack down on repeat drunk drivers. This after two recent high profile tragedies in Seattle. But on Thursday, they got some pushback from judges, prosecutors, civil libertarians and even the restaurant industry.

It’s a classic case of the devil’s in the details. Take ignition interlock devices. There’s a proposal to install them at the impound lot after a drunk driver is arrested. But the installers say that isn’t technically feasible and lawyers question whether it’s legal prior to a conviction.

Read more
Fake Wash. IDs for CIA
10:11 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Inslee: 'Broad' definition of law enforcement for false IDs

Gov. Jay Inslee says he would apply a “broad” interpretation to the term “law enforcement” when issuing fictitious driver’s licenses to undercover agents. The governor’s comment follows our report that the CIA has obtained nearly 300 so-called confidential Washington driver’s licenses since 2007.

Read more
Fake Wash. IDs for CIA
10:54 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

House authorizes fake driver’s license program over objections

The Washington House has voted to allow the Department of Licensing to continue to issue fictitious driver’s licenses to undercover police officers. But with new safeguards. Even so, the vote late Tuesday came over the objections of some Republicans.

The Department of Licensing has issued so-called confidential driver’s licenses for decades. But it never had direct authorization from the Legislature to do so. 

Read more
Law
6:05 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Lawmakers consider special DUI driver license, alcohol bracelet

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, flanked by lawmakers, announces new proposed DUI legislation.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Repeat drunk drivers in Washington may soon carry a scarlet letter driver’s license and have to wear an alcohol detection bracelet. Those are just two of the requirements contained in DUI legislation proposed Tuesday in Olympia.

The bipartisan plan follows two recent drunk driving tragedies in the Seattle area. 

House Public Safety Chair Roger Goodman says the ankle bracelet detects alcohol consumption and alerts authorities.

Read more
Fake Wash. IDs for CIA
7:31 am
Tue April 16, 2013

CIA obtains false IDs from Wash. Dept. Of Licensing

In recent years, the state of Washington has issued nearly 300 fictitious driver licenses to the CIA. That number is according to public records initially disclosed, but now withheld, by state officials.

The state’s cooperation with the nation's premier spy agency has been a secret for years—unknown to lawmakers and even the governor.

Read more
State Legislature
11:26 am
Sat April 13, 2013

66 Wash. lobbyists get warning letters for lack of transparency

 

More than 60 lobbyists in Washington have been sent warning letters for failing to submit monthly reports that detail how much they earned and how much they spent to lobby state lawmakers. 

“This letter is the only formal warning you will receive from PDC staff for not filing timely lobbying reports during 2013," said Lori Anderson of the Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission, which issued the letters.

Read more
State Legislature
9:00 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Fictitious driver license program may get more safeguards

Stricter guidelines may come to a program that lets undercover police officers in Washington obtain fictitious driver licenses. The Washington House could vote soon on a measure that would require additional safeguards to ensure the false IDs are not misused.

Read more
Marijuana legalization
12:00 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

For regulators, legalizing pot all about ‘getting into the weeds’

Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

When Washington voters legalized recreational marijuana last fall, they handed the state’s Liquor Control Board a regulatory nightmare. There’s no manual for how to create a safe and legal market for pot – something that’s never been done before.

State Representative Roger Goodman – speaking after a recent meeting on marijuana legalization – says the giggle factor is gone.

“Initiative 502 largely is about making marijuana boring. Because who cares about all this detail, technical, regulatory stuff," he said. "Well that’s what it’s all about is to get down into the weeds so to speak.”

Read more
State Legislature
4:10 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Senate budget: More money for education, no 'loophole' closures

The mostly Republican majority in the Washington state Senate has unveiled its budget proposal. It would put $1 billion more into basic education without raising taxes. The spending blueprint released Wednesday contrasts sharply with what Gov. Jay Inslee proposed last week.

Read more
State Legislature
2:47 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Republicans declare victory on Inslee's climate bill

In the coming months, Washington state will embark on a study of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The research is one provision of a measure Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Tuesday. It’s a key legislative win for the Democrat. So why are Republicans declaring victory?

Read more
State Legislature
6:01 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Even with enough votes, abortion coverage mandate may fail

Abortion-rights supporters say they have enough votes to pass a controversial insurance mandate measure in the Washington state Senate. But it appears unlikely to clear a Republican-led health care committee before a Wednesday deadline.

Things got testy Monday at a public hearing on the measure. Democrat Karen Keiser urged Republican Chair Randi Becker to allow a committee vote on the bill.

“It’s the right thing to do and I would really ask you to consider my request,” Keiser said. To which Becker responded, “Thank you. We’ll consider it.”

Read more
State Legislature
12:20 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Inslee proposes to end several tax breaks to fund schools

Oregon shoppers in Washington would pay sales tax and bottled water would be taxed under a proposal from Governor Jay Inslee to raise $1.2 billion in additional money for public schools.

Inslee, a Democrat, proposed Thursday to end or modify a dozen tax exemptions, extend two expiring tax hikes, and cut back by 25-percent a favorable tax rate that many businesses enjoy.

Read more
State Legislature
12:26 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

False IDs for cops? Unauthorized state program faces scrutiny

Mitch Barker of the Washington Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Assoc. used a state-issued fictitious driver’s license as an undercover street cop.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

For decades, police officers in Washington have been able to obtain false driver licenses for undercover work. But this quasi-secret program inside the Department of Licensing only recently came to light.

It turns out the confidential ID program was never approved by the Legislature. Now two state lawmakers are calling for more oversight to prevent possible abuses.

As a street cop in the early 1980s, Mitch Barker went undercover to work drugs and vice. The Washington Department of Licensing helped him assume a fake identity.

Read more
State Legislature
4:24 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

State Senate majority could be imperiled by sick member

The serious illness of a Washington state Senator could threaten to alter the balance of power in that legislative chamber. The majority is now potentially short a critical vote.

Republican Mike Carrell is home battling a blood disease and is a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. His condition is serious enough he was recently hospitalized. With Carrell gone, the mostly Republican Majority Coalition Caucus has just 24 members – one shy of an actual majority.

In a statement, Democratic leader Ed Murray sent wishes for a “speedy recovery.”

Read more
legislature
9:03 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

Teachers' union tops lobbying spending in Olympia so far

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 4:45 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – New disclosure reports are out on money spent for lobbying in Olympia. Who tops the list? So far Washington’s teachers’ union is spending the most to influence state lawmakers this legislative session.

The Washington Education Association has five top priorities for the 2013 legislature. The list includes more money for schools as directed by the Washington Supreme Court. The union is also pushing for competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and support staff.

Read more

Pages