Austin Jenkins

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. He regularly files stories for NPR News. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin was a freelance general assignment reporter at KING–TV, the NBC affiliate in Seattle. He also worked as a freelance education reporter for KPLU–FM, the Tacoma–based NPR station. Austin spent 2001 in Washington, D.C. as a Knight Foundation/American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. Austin has also worked as a television reporter in Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; and Bozeman, Montana. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and has a B.A. in Government from Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut.

Over the years Austin has won numerous professional awards for his reporting. He lives in Olympia with his wife Jennifer Huntley and their two children.

Read Austin's blog, "The Washington Ledge: Dispatches From Olympia."

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NPR Story
5:32 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

PACs Face Quirk In Washington Law Before They Can Spend Money

File photo of climate activist Tom Steyer

California billionaire Tom Steyer is poised to help Democrats try to win back control of the Washington Senate.

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NPR Story
4:24 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Washington Lt. Governor Agrees To $15K Ethics Fine

Washington Lt. Gov. Brad Owen

Washington Lt. Gov. Brad Owen has agreed to a $15,000 ethics fine. The settlement announced Friday stemmed from the five-term Democrat’s use of state resources to operate a non-profit with his wife.

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NPR Story
4:06 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Washington Regulators Shut Down Party Bus Company

File photo of the interior of a party bus

Washington regulators are continuing their crackdown on the party bus industry. The state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission announced Wednesday that it’s shutting down a company that stranded a group of prom-goers.

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NPR Story
6:14 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Weighs New Trial For Accomplice In Lakewood Police Shootings

Attorney Gregory Link makes the case for a new trial for Dorcus Allen in front of the Washington Supreme Court.

The getaway driver in the murders of four Lakewood, Washington police officers is seeking a new trial. The case has made it to the Washington Supreme Court and Tuesday the justices heard arguments.

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NPR Story
5:20 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Grants 120-Day Stay In Psychiatric Boarding Ruling

File photo of the Washington Supreme Court chambers.

The state of Washington now has until the end of the year to stop “boarding” mental health patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds.

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NPR Story
5:00 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Inslee Scolds Legislature On School Funding, But Cautions Court On Sanctions

Washington Governor Jay Inslee speaks to reporters at a Capitol news conference Thursday, September 4.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the legislature has not “acted appropriately” in the face of the McCleary decision on school funding. But he cautioned the state Supreme Court Thursday not to impose sanctions that would penalize other areas of state government.

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NPR Story
5:58 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Washington Justices Weigh Contempt, Sanctions Against State

Members of the McCleary family, who sued the state of Washington over school funding, answer questions from the media on the steps of the Washington Supreme Court.

  The Washington Supreme Court has heard the arguments. Now it must decide whether to hold the state in contempt for failing to submit a complete plan to fully fund schools.

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NPR Story
4:36 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Washington Supreme Court To Hold Contempt Hearing On Wednesday

Attorney Tom Ahearne represents the coalition that sued the state of Washington over school funding. He wants the Supreme Court to find the state in contempt.

Originally published on Tue September 2, 2014 3:56 pm

The state of Washington will go before the state Supreme Court Wednesday to explain why it should not be held in contempt.

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NPR Story
6:24 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Big Checks From Special Interests Flow To Legislative Caucus PACs In Washington

Longtime state Senator Tim Sheldon is a political target this year after the maverick Democrat joined with Republicans to help them take control of the Washington Senate.

This November’s election will decide who controls the Washington state Senate. Democrats are desperate to win back the majority while a mostly-Republican coalition, that took power last year, is determined to hold on.

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NPR Story
5:24 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Nearly $9 Million And Counting For Washington Fall Ballot Measures

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 2:08 pm

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the aggregate amount of money raised by the campaigns.

Washington’s November election will decide three statewide ballot measures. So far, nearly $9 million has flowed to these campaigns. And it’s still early.

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NPR Story
5:53 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Puts Hospital Boarding Decision On Hold

File photo of The Temple of Justice in Olympia, Washington

The state of Washington will not have to start discharging severely mentally ill patients starting this week. The Supreme Court Monday put a hold on a recent ruling that says it’s illegal for the state to “board” psychiatric patients in non-psychiatric hospital beds.

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NPR Story
9:01 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Washington Seeks Emergency Stay On Psychiatric Boarding Ruling

File photo

The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled it’s illegal for the state to “board” mental health patients in emergency rooms and regular hospital beds.

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Voting Rights
8:33 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Federal Judge: Yakima Election System Disenfranchises Latino Voters

File photo. More than four in 10 residents in Yakima are Hispanic, but Sonia Rodriguez True still lost her race for city council in 2009.

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 9:08 am

A federal judge has ruled that the way city council members are elected in Yakima, Washington, disenfranchises Latino voters.

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NPR Story
6:25 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Sets Standard For Post-Conviction DNA Testing

File of the Temple of Justice in Olympia, Washington.

Washington’s Supreme Court may have just made it easier for prison inmates to try to get their convictions overturned through DNA testing.

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NPR Story
4:37 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Amid Legal Pot, The Search Continues For Illegal Grows

File photo of 'guerrilla' cultivation of cannabis

Legal marijuana grows are just getting started in Washington state. But it’s the illegal ones that local, state and federal agents are searching out this month.

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NPR Story
4:22 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Washington Legislative Ethics Panel To Consider Free Meals Rule

File photo of the Washington State Capitol building in Olympia.

Washington law allows lawmakers to accept gifts of food and drink on infrequent occasions. But that word “infrequent” has never been defined.

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NPR Story
1:49 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

SeaTac Minimum Wage Fight In Hands Of Washington Supreme Court

Prior to a Washington Supreme Court hearing, Sea-Tac Airport workers and others rally at a union-organized event in favor of the City of SeaTac’s $15 an hour minimum wage law.

Voters in SeaTac, Washington, narrowly approved a $15 per hour minimum wage. Now, the state Supreme Court will decide whether that law should stand, and if so, whether it should apply to workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Currently it does not.

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NPR Story
3:53 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Outlaws Mental Health 'Boarding'

File photo of the Temple of Justice in Olympia, Washington.

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 6:26 pm

The Washington Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that the practice of "boarding" mental health patients in hospital emergency rooms is unlawful.

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NPR Story
4:27 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Protest Over Closed-Door State Labor Negotiations

Tim Welch of the Washington Federation of State Employees tries to hand out cups of tea to protesters from the Freedom Foundation.

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 5:31 pm

The state of Washington resumed bargaining sessions Wednesday with its unionized employees. Protesters showed up to criticize the secret nature of the meetings.

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Idaho News
3:47 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Accused Teen Killer In North Idaho Moved Back To Juvenile Detention

File photo of Eldon Samuel.

A north Idaho teenager accused of killing his father and brother is no longer being held in solitary confinement at an adult county jail.

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