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

Dueling Initiatives
3:54 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Poll: Gun Rights Initiative Losing Support While Background Check Remains Popular

FILE - Supporters Zach Silk, left, and Cheryl Stumbo deliver boxes of petitions for Initiative 594 to the Secretary of State's office Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Olympia, Washington.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Support for a gun rights measure on Washington’s fall ballot is flagging, according to a new Elway poll released Tuesday. Meanwhile, a dueling measure that would expand background checks remains popular.

Read more
Aerospace
8:40 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Moses Lake Selected As Test Flight Center For Japanese Regional Jet

Japan-based Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has announced plans to test its new regional jet in Moses Lake, Washington.
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp.

A Japanese airplane maker will test its new regional jet in Moses Lake, Washington. Mitsubishi Aircraft Company made that announcement Monday at the Farnborough Air Show in England. 

Gov. Jay Inslee is attending the air show with a delegation. He told reporters in a conference call that Mitsubishi’s investment could put central Washington on the global map for flight tests.

Read more
Washington Supreme Court
4:24 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Says ‘Stop And Frisk’ Went Too Far

Police in Washington can “stop and frisk” individuals they have specific reason to believe may be armed. But if that search goes beyond a “brief and nonintrusive” search, then it’s unconstitutional, according to a finding by the Washington Supreme Court Thursday.

Read more
Legal Marijuana
9:41 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Amid Fanfare, Pot Stores Open Around Washington State

Taunya Harris, is a "cannabis coach" for Altitude pot store in Prosser, Washington. She showed of a container that customers can sniff and see the buds to choose their favorite strain.
Anna King Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 6:58 pm

Washington’s recreational marijuana market is open for business. From Seattle to Bellingham to Prosser, marijuana stores opened for business Tuesday to excited customers who lined up, dressed up and celebrated the end of pot prohibition.

Read more
Legal Marijuana
4:52 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

In Wash. State, Would-Be Customers Eagerly Await Pot Store Openings

Rick Stevens stopped by 420 Carpenter, a marijuana retail location in Lacey, Washington to see if it was open yet.
Austin Jenkins

The first legal marijuana stores in Washington are scheduled to open Tuesday. The Liquor Control Board issued the first 24 retail licenses early Monday.

But state officials warn of high prices and short supply in the beginning. Even so that’s not keeping away some would-be customers.

Read more
Life Behind Bars
4:45 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Washington Prisons Will No Longer Punish Inmates For ‘Self-Harm’

Justin Steyer KPLU

Washington’s prison system has announced a major policy change when it comes to inmates who harm themselves. The Department of Corrections said Thursday that it will no longer sanction inmates for cutting or other acts of self-injury.

Read more
Legal Marijuana
10:33 am
Thu July 3, 2014

Wash. State To Issue About 20 Pot Retail Licenses Monday

Brennan Linsley AP Photo

Washington’s Liquor Control Board plans to issue about 20 marijuana retail licenses next Monday, and the first pot stores could open the next day following a 24-hour waiting period.

But the state cautions many stores may not be ready yet for customers and marijuana could be in short supply.

Read more
Workplace Tragedy
10:56 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Shows Go On For Northwest Fireworks Company Shaken By Workplace Death

Ken Julian of Entertainment Fireworks stands near where a memorial will go for his friend and employee Bill Hill.
Austin Jenkins

People in the fireworks business say their job is to make people happy. But as the Fourth of July approaches, Entertainment Fireworks in Tenino, Washington, one of the largest fireworks companies in the Northwest, is reeling.

On June 18, a longtime seasonal employee was killed in an on-the-job explosion and fire.

Read more
Minimum Wage
7:32 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Washington Supreme Court To Hear Sea-Tac Airport Minimum Wage Fight

File image
AP Photo

Should SeaTac’s voter-approved $15 per hour minimum wage apply to workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport? Washington’s Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on that question today.

The case pits airport vendors, Alaska Airlines and the Port of Seattle against supporters of the higher wage.

Read more
Criminal Justice System
10:06 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Inslee Launches Review Of Prison Population Growth In Wash. State

Michael Coghlan Flickr

Washington state’s prison system is projected to need 1,000 new beds by 2018. And that growth has Gov. Jay Inslee concerned.

Inslee on Tuesday announced a Department of Justice-backed review of the state’s criminal justice system. The goal is to look for ways to save money without jeopardizing public safety.

Read more
Military & Defense
9:12 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Death Of Northwest Soldier In California Puts Army Training Accidents In Spotlight

Private First Class Andrew Sass was killed in a training incident at Ft. Irwin, California.
U.S. Army

The death of a soldier based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord over the weekend highlights the danger of training for war. Private Andrew Sass was killed Saturday in an incident at the National Training Center in California.

Read more
Government Workings
3:07 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Wash. State's Volunteer Drivers Collect Tens Of Thousands In Mileage Reimbursements

This screenshot of Washington’s Open Checkbook shows the mileage reimbursements paid to volunteer driver Lavaughn Nuner in the first nine months of the current fiscal year.

Imagine driving your personal car for work so much that your boss cuts you a $10,000 mileage reimbursement check. That’s what happened recently at Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services.

But the person who got the check isn’t an employee, and she’s not the only one who’s logging high miles and collecting large reimbursements from DSHS. So far this fiscal year, the agency has reimbursed volunteer drivers more than $300,000.

Read more
Legislators & Lobbyists
5:15 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Wash. Ethics Panel Gets Earful On Lobbyist-Paid Meals For Lawmakers

mathteacherguy Flickr

How often is “infrequent” when it comes to state lawmakers accepting free meals from lobbyists? Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board spent nearly two hours Tuesday taking testimony on that issue and then grappling with the answer. 

Read more
Budget Cuts
4:13 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Gov. Inslee Directs State Agencies To Identify 15 Percent Cuts

File image
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee is directing Washington state agencies to identify 15 percent cuts in the next budget. The directive comes as the latest revenue forecast released Tuesday shows an ongoing sluggish recovery.

State budget director David Schumacher says the budget-cutting exercise does not mean all agencies will be cut by 15 percent.

Read more
Balance of Power
9:31 am
Tue June 17, 2014

School Funding Lawsuit Prompts Hearing On Separation Of Powers

File image
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

The Washington Supreme Court could hold state lawmakers in contempt over school funding. But is the high court overstepping its bounds? A Republican-led legislative panel held a hearing Monday on separation of powers.

Read more

Pages