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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Resentencing Law
5:12 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Washington Juvenile Killers Could Get Second Chance At Release

FILE - In this April 9, 2010 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington.
Evan Vucci AP Photo

Nearly 30 juvenile killers currently serving life sentences without the possibility of parole in Washington could be eligible for release in the future, thanks to a new state law that took effect this month.

The law was passed in response to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that automatic sentences of life without parole for juvenile killers are unconstitutional. In response, the Washington state Legislature this year passed a law that requires new, individualized sentences for these aggravated murderers.

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Three-Strikes Law
4:40 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Another Three-Strikes Offender In Wash. State Wins Clemency Recommendation

Washington’s Clemency Board has recommended the release of another three-strikes offender serving life without parole. The 3-to-0 vote Friday followed testimony from King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg who supported the petition for mercy.

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Education Funding
9:39 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Orders ‘State’ To Contempt Hearing In McCleary Case

File image
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

A frustrated Washington Supreme Court appears ready to hold state officials in contempt.

The high court late Thursday ordered the “state” to appear at a hearing in September to address the lack of a plan to fully fund basic education.

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Three-Strikes Law
2:08 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

As Washington Prisons Crowd, Could Some 'Lifers' Get A Second Look?

In 2009, three-strikes offender Stevan Dozier was granted clemency. He stands in front of a mural at King County Juvenile Court that reads “never lose hope.”

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 3:51 pm

Stevan Dozier's crimes were violent purse snatchings. The final time, he hit his 69-year old victim in the face, knocked her to the ground and stole her wallet. As a result, Dozier was one of the first to be sentenced under the voter-approved "three strikes" law back in 1994.

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Workplace Safety
9:43 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Washington Capitol Employees Train For Active Shooter Scenarios

Austin Jenkins

Get out. Hide out. Take out. That’s the lesson employees at the Washington state Capitol got Wednesday in a class on active shooters. The refresher course comes in the wake of recent high profile shootings in the Northwest.

The sign on the door to the legislative hearing room said it all: “Workplace Violence Prevention and Active Shooter Survival.” About 50 state legislative and executive branch employees showed up for the lunch-hour training.

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Oso Slide
9:26 am
Wed June 11, 2014

38 Oso Slide Legal Claims Filed Against State Of Wash., More Expected

Snohomish County Flickr

The deadly Oso landslide in March has resulted in a blizzard of legal claims against the state of Washington.

As of Tuesday, the state’s risk management office reports it has received 38 tort claims, which are precursors to a lawsuit. Claims have also been filed against Snohomish County.

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New Laws
5:00 am
Wed June 11, 2014

New Washington Laws Cover College Aid, Guns And Tanning

AP Photo

This is the week undocumented students in Washington will become eligible for state college tuition aid. The “Real Hope Act” is just one of dozens of new state laws that take effect Thursday, 90 days after the Washington legislature adjourned.

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Gay Rights
12:17 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Wash. AG Puts Health Plans On Notice To Cover Same-Sex Spouses

Terry Gilbert, left, kisses his husband Paul Beppler after wedding at Seattle City Hall, becoming among the first gay couples to legally wed in the state, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Washington’s Attorney General is reminding employers they may not discriminate against same-sex spouses when it comes to health coverage.

Thursday’s warning follows a discrimination complaint earlier this year against O’Reilly Auto Parts.

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Tragedy On Rainier
9:15 am
Tue June 3, 2014

More Names And Details Emerge About Mount Rainier Climbing Accident Victims

Mount Rainier is seen from the road to Paradise Visitor Center at Mount Rainier National Park on Sunday, June 1, 2014.
Rachel La Corte AP Photo

Alpine Ascents International has released the name of the second company guide who was killed in this weekend’s climbing tragedy on Mount Rainier. His name was Eitan Green, a Colby College graduate from the Boston area. He was based in Seattle and had guided for Alpine Ascents since 2009.

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Tragedy On Rainier
9:30 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Climbers Mourn Mount Rainier Tragedy, But Climb On

Mount Rainier as seen from the road to the White River campground.
Austin Jenkins

Mount Rainier, one of the most popular climbing destinations in the nation, became the scene of a terrible tragedy this weekend. Six climbers apparently fell to their deaths in the second worst climbing tragedy in the mountain's history.

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Development
5:00 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Pacific Tower Expected To Fill With Tenants; Long-Term Funding An Issue

Joe Mabel Wikimedia

After a slow start, the state of Washington says it’s on track to fill the former headquarters of Amazon.com with tenants. But long-term costs remain a concern.

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Traffic Citation
5:00 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Stopped By A Trooper? Don't Reach For Your Registration

Washington State Patrol

With the summer driving season fast approaching, the Washington State Patrol is reminding drivers what to do and not do if you’re stopped.

I was stopped recently by a Washington State Patrol trooper. I had two earbuds in, which is illegal; you can only have one. When I pulled over to the side of the Interstate, I stopped the car and immediately reached for my glove box to get my registration ready.

It turns out that is a big no-no.

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Washington Supreme Court
9:18 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Wash. High Court: Sea-Tac Airport Workers Unknowingly Fed Pork Can Sue Over Lunch

Cacophony Wikimedia Commons

Washington employers must “reasonably” accommodate the religious practices of their employees, according to a ruling issued by the Washington Supreme Court Thursday.

The case involves four men employed by a company that makes meals for airline passengers at Sea-Tac Airport.

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Washington Supreme Court
4:54 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Washington's First Openly-Gay Supreme Court Justice Sworn Into Office

New Washington state Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu is applauded by current court members behind as she acknowledges the gallery after being sworn in to the bench Tuesday, May 20, 2014, in Olympia, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

The Washington Supreme Court's first openly gay justice has been sworn into the bench. Former King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu is also the first Asian American and first female Hispanic member of the court.

Yu took the oath in Washington’s Temple of Justice on Tuesday. Afterward, she expressed some relief that she won’t face an opponent in the fall election.

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Politics
5:00 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Carfax For Candidates? Nonprofit Offers Politician Background Checks

It’s an mid-term election year. Even so, some 300 candidates are vying for 162 local, state and federal positions in Washington state alone.

So who are these would-be officeholders, and what kind of troubles may they have had in the past? Formal background checks for candidates are not a part of the typical vetting process, but a former candidate wants to change that.

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