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 Supreme Court
4:56 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

Washington Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Backpage.com Case

Anti-human trafficking activists rally at the Washington Supreme Court before oral arguments in a case involving Backpage.com.
Austin Jenkins

The fate of a human-trafficking lawsuit against Backpage.com is now in the hands of the Washington Supreme Court. The justices heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case that involves three underage victims of sex trafficking. The justices must decide if the lawsuit can proceed.

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Election 2014
10:52 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Some Lobbyists Play Key Role In Washington Campaign Finance

Harvey Barrison Flickr

The top political spenders in Washington this election year include environmentalists, unions, trial lawyers and business interests.

But there’s a group of influential players who don’t necessarily show up in the campaign finance reports: lobbyists. They often work behind the scenes to guide campaign contributions on behalf the interests they work for. It’s another way that lobbyists exert their influence over the political process.

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Election 2014
5:00 am
Mon October 20, 2014

Election 2014: Big Money, Big Issues

James Myers of Seattle peers into the slot before dropping in his ballot at a ballot drop box Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

We’re just about two weeks away from the 2014 election. It’s not a presidential election year, but there are several big issues on the ballot that have attracted big money to try to get your vote. Those issues include gun sales, class size and control of the state Senate.

Here’s a quick look at what’s on your ballot, what’s at stake and what it’s costing.

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NPR Story
3:08 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Billionaire's PAC Moves $750K To Washington Conservation Voters

File photo of Tom Steyer

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 3:03 pm

California billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer has contributed a significant amount of cash to an environmental political action committee in Washington.

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Investment
9:44 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Wash. State's Exotic Investment Opens On Tahitian Island Once Owned By Brando

The Washington State Investment Board is a majority owner of the company that owns a resort on a Tahitian island once owned by Marlon Brando.
Wikimedia

A new luxury resort has opened on a Tahitian island once owned by Marlon Brando and it could soon start to pay a dividend to Washington state’s retired public employees.

That’s because the Washington State Investment Board is a majority owner of the company that owns the resort.

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Ebola
4:09 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Ebola Makes West Africa A No-Go Zone For Washington Investment Officers

FILE - This undated photo made available by the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, shows the Ebola virus viewed through an electron microscope.
AP Photo/Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa means Washington state investment officers won’t be traveling to that region anytime soon.

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Lobbyists & Legislators
4:59 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Washington Ethics Board Adopts Annual Cap Of 12 Lobbyist-Paid Meals For Lawmakers

Starting in January, Washington lawmakers will be barred from accepting more than 12-lobbyist-paid meals per year. The state’s Legislative Ethics Board adopted that limit today after months of public hearings and deliberation.

The issue of free meals first came to light in May of last year when we, in partnership with the Associated Press, reported on the practice of lawmakers letting lobbyists pick up the tab.

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Dueling Initiatives
4:05 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Elway Poll: Wash. Background Check Measure Retains Healthy Lead

FILE - Elections worker Joseph MacLean moves boxes of petitions for Initiative 594 at the Secretary of State's office Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Olympia, Washington.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

A ballot measure to expand background checks for gun sales in Washington has lost some support, but still enjoys a healthy lead, according to the latest Elway Poll released Monday.

Meanwhile, a competing gun rights measure appears to be in trouble.

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Election 2014
11:10 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Watch Your Mailbox For Ballots, Voter’s Guides

Priscilla Slaughter of Seattle lets out a little cheer and raises her arms in celebration after dropping in her ballot at a ballot drop box Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Election 2014 is less than a month away. 

Ballots will soon be arriving in mailboxes in Washington and Oregon where the election is all vote-by-mail. Idaho voters still go to the polls, but about a quarter of Gem State ballots are cast absentee.

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Wildland Firefighters
4:11 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Wash. Inmate Crews Celebrated For Work On Summer Wildfires

Inmate firefighter Christopher Hindermann did two 14-day stints on the Carlton Complex Fire in north central Washington this summer.
Austin Jenkins

This summer’s Carlton Complex wildfire was the largest in Washington history. Scores of firefighters battled the inferno in north-central Washington. Among them were prison inmates assigned to the Department of the Natural Resources. Those inmate crews were honored Thursday at a ceremony at Cedar Creek Corrections Center.

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Election 2014
5:00 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Political Action Committees Pop Up In Election Years

Political Action Committees in Washington have spent more than $14 million so far this year. The top spenders are teachers, trial lawyers, SEIU and a business PAC called Enterprise Washington. But there are also dozens of smaller PACs — PACs in a box — that have been set up for just this election year.

You’ve heard of a jack in the box. Single-year political action committees are sort of like that. They just pop up. And then when the election is over, they disappear again.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
4:10 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Inslee Announces Court Action In Hanford Cleanup Fight

A sign warns of radioactivity near a wind direction flag indicator at the "C" tank farm during a media tour of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation Wednesday, July 9, 2014 near Richland, Washington.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

The state of Washington is going back to federal court over cleanup at Hanford, the nation’s largest nuclear waste site. Gov. Jay Inslee announced the latest court action Friday in an exclusive public radio interview.

The decision to return to court follows months of negotiations that failed to produce a new Hanford cleanup agreement. Inslee says the time has come once again to get the courts involved.

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Election 2014
1:24 pm
Thu October 2, 2014

National Republican Group Puts Money Into Washington Legislative Races

Colin Fogarty

The Republican State Leadership Committee, a national Republican group with a focus on “down ballot” races, is pumping money into Washington state.

So far this year, the committee has invested more than $300,000 in the state.

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Gun Initiatives
4:35 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

NRA Says It's 'Very Committed' To Defeating Gun Background Check Measure

M Glasgow Flickr

The National Rifle Association says it’s “very committed” to defeating a background check measure on Washington’s November ballot.

But the gun rights group says it has no plans to compete financially with the campaign in favor of Initiative 594.

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Gun Initiatives
8:00 am
Tue September 30, 2014

Washington Ballot Measure Targets Online Gun Sales

Aman More takes aim with his .357 Magnum at the Poulsbo Sportsman Club. He buys and sells guns on a website called ARMSLIST and opposes efforts to regulate those sales.
Austin Jenkins

This November, Washington voters will decide whether to require background checks for person-to-person gun sales.

Initiative 594 would close what gun control advocates used to call the “gun show loophole.” But these days, much of the unregulated gun trade is happening online.

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