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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Washington State Legislature
9:36 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Legislature acts on capping out-of-pocket medical expenses

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Out-of-pocket medical expenses are crushing some Washington families – even though they have health insurance. A key legislative committee voted Thursday to place an overall cap on how much a family would have to pay each year.

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Gay rights
9:25 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Gay couples celebrate Washington marriage vote; GOP struggles with vote

Richard Cannon and Richard Bullock have been together nearly 25 years and watched the gay marriage vote from the Senate gallery.
Austin Jenkins KPLU

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The battle to allow gay marriage in Washington has cleared a major hurdle. The Washington state Senate voted Wednesday night to approve same-sex marriage. The vote was 28 to 21. Four Republicans voting with the majority.

Gay marriage supporters packed the senate galleries hours before debate got underway. Among them Richard Cannon and Richard Bullock, together nearly 25 years. Bullock said their children from previous marriages are now grown and married.

“We have grandchildren now and it’s time for our wedding. We want the grandkids there,” Bullock said.

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Law
10:26 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Prosecutors won’t support bail reform package

Lawmakers are scheduled to take testimony Wednesday on a proposal to overhaul the state’s bail system. But now two key constituencies have yanked their support.

County prosecutors and an organization representing frontline police officers say they will oppose the measure because it doesn’t require defendants put down a minimum amount before bailing out of jail.

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Economy
9:20 am
Tue January 24, 2012

Laid-off, then hired back by the state of Washington

Keri-Anne Jetzer lost her job as a state researcher, but then was hired back in a different position.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The number of people who are out of work in Washington is falling. It’s a sign the economy is recovering – albeit slowly. But it’s only been in the last two months that the government sector has started hiring again.

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Gay rights
3:19 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Gay marriage opponents rally at Washington statehouse

Opponents of gay marriage rally at the Washington Statehouse.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Gay marriage opponents gathered at Washington statehouse on Monday to oppose legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry.

Participants at this “Stand up for Marriage” rally also waved flags and held signs that read: “One man, one woman – for life.”

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Washington State Legislature
4:26 pm
Thu January 19, 2012

Gay marriage one vote shy in Washington State Senate

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Supporters and opponents of gay marriage plan to descend on Washington’s capitol on Monday when House and Senate committees are scheduled to take public testimony on legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry.

It now appears sponsors in the state Senate are just one vote shy of passage.

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Washington government
4:39 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Washington revenue forecaster resigns; takes private sector job

Economic Forecaster Arun Raha, left, offers up his customary deadpan as he announces his resignation to take a job in the private sector.
Azusa Uchikura

OLYMPIA, Wash. – His job was to predict Washington revenues through the worst economic storm since the Great Depression. Now Washington’s chief economic forecaster is resigning to take a job in the private sector.

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Washington state legislature
9:06 am
Sun January 8, 2012

Budget crisis, gay marriage shake up next Wash. Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A one billion dollar budget shortfall, taxes and gay marriage are all on the agenda as the Washington legislature convenes Monday. But the timeframe is short – just 60 days – and already the Governor’s push for gay marriage is setting off partisan tension.

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K-12 Employee Health Care
9:12 am
Tue December 20, 2011

Battle looms over control of teachers' health care

Washington schools superintendent Randy Dorn is expected Tuesday to endorse a state takeover of K-12 employee health care. But the union that represents Washington teachers is prepared to defend its decades-long role as a provider of health insurance.

The teachers’ union calls it a taxpayer “rip off” and government “boondoggle.” Fiery language to describe a plan to put the state of Washington in the driver’s seat when it comes to K-12 employee health benefits.

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Protesting Wall Street
12:00 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

State troopers in riot gear clear Occupy Olympia camp

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Several dozen Washington state troopers in riot gear cleared the Occupy Olympia encampment early Friday. The troopers moved in after several verbal warnings to clear Heritage Park on the Capitol Campus.

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Protesting Wall Street
10:23 am
Fri December 16, 2011

Occupy Olympia activists ignore deadline, take over vacant building

Occupy Olympia activists outside an abandoned building they occupied after marching from Heritage Park.
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Several campers did fold their tents, but Occupy Olympia activists largely ignored a midnight deadline lastnight to vacate Heritage Park on Washington’s Capitol campus. Instead, they held a rally and then took over an abandoned building across the street.

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Joint Base Lewis-McChord
11:57 am
Tue December 13, 2011

Army won’t say yet if helicopters collided in deadly crash

OH58 Kiowa Warrior.
U.S. Army

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. – The Army isn’t saying yet whether a mid-air collision caused the crash of two reconnaissance helicopters at a training area on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The accident Monday night killed four Washington-based Army aviators.

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Washington State Legistlature
10:42 am
Fri December 9, 2011

Washington lawmakers aim for some cuts before holidays

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire appears to have given up hope of a balanced budget on her desk by Christmas. Instead, this week her budget director sent lawmakers a shorter wish list to get done before they adjourn for the holidays.

The protesters have gone home. So have many lawmakers.

But majority Democrats in the Washington legislature say they will be back next week with a goal. Cut the $1.4 billion budget shortfall down by, say, $500 million.

The secret list

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Effects of Recession
9:41 am
Thu December 8, 2011

Default ‘trouble’ spreads beyond Washington's ‘river city’

  • An error occurred ingesting this audio file to NPR

For the first time in nearly a decade, a Washington municipality has defaulted on a loan. The Greater Wenatchee Public Facilities District operates Town Toyota Center near the banks of the Columbia River. It missed a major bond payment on December 1st. Now the Washington legislature is debating whether to step in.

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Budget crisis
9:04 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Washington parks face emergency budget cuts

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s state park system is facing an emergency funding crisis. The Parks Commission will meet Tuesday to vote on a plan to immediately cut $11 million from the budget.

The crisis comes as sales of the new Discover Pass lag.

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