Austin Jenkins

Olympia Correspondent

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. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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The search for a missing bow hunter in central Washington has been temporarily called off because of worsening weather. This follows a rare call out for volunteer searchers to help in the effort.

Washington prison inmates who suffer from “serious and painful medical conditions” are often denied adequate healthcare. That’s the allegation contained in a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle this week.

Washington lawmakers are meeting at the state Capitol this week to get ready for the 2016 legislative session. If lawmakers are back in town, that means lobbyists are too. So why squander the moment?

For the first time, prosecutors have obtained a federal Lacey Act conviction for trafficking in poached Northwest maple wood.

September’s deadly Aurora Bridge accident in Seattle and the 2015 fire season are on the agenda as Washington lawmakers return to the Capitol on Thursday and Friday.

Heavy rains have flooded the one road in and out of La Push on the Washington coast. That means the 300-400 residents of the Quileute Indian Reservation are cut off.

The story of Troy Kelley, Washington state’s auditor, is stranger than fiction.

Prosecutors in Washington state want voters to decide in 2016 whether to keep or repeal the death penalty. It’s been 40 years since Washington voters last weighed-in on the death penalty. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg says the time has come for voters to have another say on the subject.

Opponents of Initiative 1366, a tax-limiting measure passed by Washington voters on November 3, said they will try to get an injunction to keep the new law from taking effect. That announcement Thursday comes as the Washington Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling that allowed the measure to remain on the ballot.

A Washington state senator says he will try again in January to convince his colleagues to ban marine mammal shows. That announcement Monday came as SeaWorld said it will end orca whale performances at its San Diego theme park next year.

Washington is unlikely to meet a January deadline to provide jail inmates with court-ordered mental health services within seven days.

A staffing shortage at Western State Hospital has created a crisis situation. Federal inspectors this week determined that patients and staff face immediate risk for harm.

There’s a surprise newcomer to the campaign for a higher minimum wage in Washington. It’s the state’s restaurant association.

Washington voters appear to have given the thumbs up to another Tim Eyman tax-limiting measure. But the courts could get the final say.

Alcoa’s decision to idle two aluminum plants in Washington comes just months after state lawmakers renewed tax breaks for the company.

The attorney for indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley wants some of the charges against his client dropped. Attorney Angelo Calfo is also petitioning a judge to break apart the criminal indictment into separate trials.

Washington’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island is home to 252 sex offenders. These are men -- and one woman -- who’ve completed their prison sentences but are deemed too dangerous to release.

Mickey Mouse belongs in Disneyland, not on your ballot. Same goes for the Easter Bunny and other funny write-in candidates.

Payouts on lawsuits and other legal claims cost Washington taxpayers nearly $60 million in fiscal year 2015. That’s according to a state report issued Thursday.

Judge Ronald Leighton took federal prosecutors to task this week, saying they may have overreached when they seized nearly $1 million from indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley in September.

Courtesy WSP

The Washington State Patrol is reminding drivers to move over -- or at least slow down -- when approaching an emergency vehicle that’s stopped with its lights flashing. The Patrol will begin a three-day crackdown Tuesday on drivers who don’t give troopers some space.

About 30 times per year, a Washington State Patrol trooper has someone pulled over or is helping a motorist and another driver smashes into them.

Two years ago, Washington lawmakers created a registry for individuals convicted of a gun-related felony. The law was sold as a way to improve police officer safety by creating a database just for them.

The Washington State Patrol is recruiting. But in this case it’s not for troopers. It’s for military veterans who applied to be troopers and weren’t hired.

Wealthy donors helped get Initiative 1366 on the ballot. Now Washington voters will decide whether to approve Tim Eyman’s latest effort to require a two-thirds vote of the legislature or a vote of the people for tax hikes.

Ted S. Warren / AP

The state of Washington has issued workplace safety fines in a bridge demolition accident that killed a couple and their infant son. The fines announced Monday target four construction contractors.

On April 14, workers were building a pedestrian walkway on a highway overpass in Bonney Lake southeast of Tacoma. Suddenly a concrete barrier fell onto the road below crushing a vehicle passing underneath. Killed were Josh and Vanessa Ellis and their eight-month-old son Hudson.

The latest Elway Poll released Monday showed Initiative 1366, a tax-limiting measure on Washington’s November ballot, is tied. Sixteen percent of Washington voters said they’re still not sure how they’ll vote.

Washington Republicans have been talking about impeaching indicted state Auditor Troy Kelley. But now one of Kelley’s fellow Democrats says it’s time to proceed.

Note: This story is an update to a story first reported in 2012 in collaboration with the Seattle Times.

Between 2008 and 2011, more than 20,000 soldiers and Marines were given “other than honorable” discharges from the military. Now, one soldier from Salem, Oregon, has learned his discharge will be upgraded.

Money is pouring into a highly competitive special election to fill an open seat in the Washington state House. But tracing where that money comes from is no easy task.

The Washington State Patrol has a warning for drivers: it’s now illegal to have an open container of marijuana in the passenger compartments of vehicles.