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’s new voter-approved background check law appears to have prevented the sale of a rifle to a man with a warrant out for his arrest.

It could be the first time the new law was put to the test.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

"It is time to reinvest in Washington," Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday. 

Washington Consolidated Technology Services

 

The state of Washington has good cyber security standards, but state agencies don’t always adhere to those standards, according to the findings of a performance audit released Monday.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Several hundred gun rights activists rallied at Washington’s capitol Saturday to protest the new voter-approved law that requires background checks for person-to-person gun sales and transfers. Most participants in the "I Will Not Comply" rally were openly carrying handguns or rifles or both.

Austin Jenkins

 

The lights are back on for many of those who lost power during the windstorm that walloped western Oregon and Washington Thursday night. But repair crews are still hard at work across the region.

The largest number of outages were in Puget Sound Energy territory. But the utility said the number of customers still without electricity is less than half what it was at the peak overnight.

In Olympia’s South Capitol neighborhood, there was a harrowing moment when a very large, sprawling tree fell across power lines and onto a car, knocking out the power in the residential neighborhood.

Washington Consolidated Technology Services

 

A foil-wrapped secret room is a plausible use for unused portions of Washington’s new data center. That’s according to a national expert on what Time Magazine has dubbed “spy-proof rooms.”

Brianhe / Wikimedia Commons

 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is likely to propose a revenue package that exceeds $1 billion when he unveils his proposed two-year budget next week, according to the governor’s budget director who briefed reporters at the Capitol Tuesday.

Washington Consolidated Technology Services

 

The search is widening for tenants to fill Washington’s overbuilt data center. Efforts to lease the 26,000 square feet of highly-secure warehouse space to the private sector have so far been unsuccessful.

Austin Jenkins

The agency that oversees child welfare in Washington wants to hire nearly 100 more child protection workers.

But the budget request comes after years of lawsuits that cost the state more than $150 million. Now the question is whether Washington’s Department of Social and Health Services has taken adequate steps to learn from child welfare cases that went awry.

Austin Jenkins

 

Low-wage workers picketed and rallied across the country Thursday in support of a $15 per hour minimum wage.

On the steps of the Washington state Capitol, a group of about 50 people gathered, mostly minimum wage earners who carried signs saying "Strike poverty." They’re calling for a $15 per hour base wage in Washington state.

Austin Jenkins

 

Washington’s new background check law for person-to-person gun sales and transfers takes effect Thursday.

The law puts federally-licensed gun dealers in the role of conducting the checks. But Don Teague, the owner of Private Sector Arms, a gun store in Thurston County, said it’s not a role he’s comfortable with.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

 

Two Washington prison inmates have committed suicide in recent weeks at the state’s main intake facility in Shelton.

The first was in October. The most recent was just before Thanksgiving.

mathteacherguy / Flickr

 

Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board has capped the number of free meals lawmakers can accept from lobbyists.

Now the board will consider whether lawmakers must report those meals. A meeting is scheduled for Dec. 2.

Austin Jenkins

 

The election is over, but not the political fundraising. Washington state lawmakers are racing the clock to replenish their coffers before the freeze.

The freeze that hits on Dec. 13 isn't the plummeting temperatures kind; it's a freeze on campaign fundraising.

Austin Jenkins

In Washington, D.C., there’s a waiting period before members of Congress and their staffers can work as lobbyists.

And unlike Oregon and 31 other states, Washington state does not require a waiting or “cooling off” period to slow the revolving door. 

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