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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This is an off election year, but there is one hot legislative race that has implications for future control of the Washington state House.

The license application window opens Monday for medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state that want to continue to operate.

The race is on to replace indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley. Republican state Senator Mark Miloscia announced Thursday he will campaign for the seat in 2016.

Poor and minority students in Washington state are more likely to be labeled truants. That’s a according to the state’s 2015 Truancy Report out Wednesday.

Washington Lt. Governor Brad Owen hasn’t announced if he intends to seek a sixth-term next year. But he already faces challenges from two fellow Democrats who are betting he won’t run.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Mentally disabled sex offenders housed on McNeil Island are not getting the treatment they deserve. And, in some cases, they are being held in isolation. Those allegations are contained in a lawsuit plaintiffs say they will file today in federal court.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Citing a lack of confidence, state regulators took emergency action Monday to suspend Ride the Ducks tours in Seattle. The move follows last week’s deadly crash involving one of the company’s amphibious vehicles.

Austin Jenkins

Brian Phillips spent 71 days in solitary confinement this summer. He was locked up in the Thurston County Jail after he went off his psychiatric medication and had several run-ins with police. Like many of inmates in his situation, Phillips had to wait weeks for a mental health evaluation. While he waited, the isolation took a toll.

Ted S. Warren / AP

  The lawyer for indicted Washington state auditor Troy Kelley has more than 80,000 pages of transcripts, witness statements and documents to wade through. It’s a sign of the complexity of the money laundering and tax evasion case against the first-term Democrat.

Tradnor at the English Language Wikipedia

  The Washington State Patrol says security at the governor’s mansion in Olympia has been improved in the wake of two breaches. Trespassers made it past the perimeter fence in 2013 and again earlier this year.

Some of the security upgrades are obvious: a higher, more robust gate at the east entrance to the governor’s mansion. This is the gate that was easily scaled by a trespasser in August of 2013. That event was caught on video. According to the State Patrol a new alarm has also been installed on that gate.

A security breach at the Washington governor’s mansion on August 7, 2013 was more serious than first reported. Records obtained from the Washington State Patrol reveal the trespasser broke a window before he was arrested at gunpoint.

The perimeter surrounding Washington’s governor’s mansion has been breached twice by trespassers since 2013. The incidents were not publicized at the time.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley has pleaded not guilty -- again. The indicted Democrat was arraigned Friday morning in federal court in Tacoma on a revised 17-count indictment.

The FBI has seized a $900,000 legal retainer fee paid by indicted Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley. They said the money came from alleged ill-gotten gains related to Kelley’s former real estate services business.

A three-year-old Washington state law that allows whistleblowers to bring Medicaid fraud lawsuits is working. That’s according to a review by legislative auditors that urges lawmakers to renew the law before it expires next year.

Vance for Senate Campaign

Longtime Washington U.S. Senator Patty Murray has drawn a Republican challenger. Former GOP Chair Chris Vance says he plans to focus on issues like the national debt. Vance formally announced his 2016 run Tuesday.

Vance launched his campaign with a video announcement and a promise to be a different kind of candidate.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley faces additional charges of money laundering and tax evasion. The U.S. Attorney’s office announced the new charges Thursday afternoon.

Rachel La Corte / AP

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled a lawsuit against can move forward. The lawsuit alleges Backpage was complicit in the sex trafficking of minors.

Ted S. Warren / AP

The Olympia police officer who shot two African-American brothers during a confrontation in May will not be criminally charged.

That was the announcement Wednesday afternoon from Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim. He is charging the two brothers with assault on the officer.

The Washington State Patrol is responsible for guarding the governor and his wife. But audio recordings obtained through public records reveal the Patrol’s Executive Protection Unit is also concerned about protecting the governor politically -- at least when it comes to driving him in a gas-guzzling SUV.

A federal judge in Seattle has made it clear to the state that mentally ill jail inmates need to be evaluated within seven days to see if they’re competent to stand trial.

Washington Lt. Governor Brad Owen traveled to China last year and touted a company that’s now at the center of a federal fraud investigation.

The Washington state Senate Wednesday morning failed to muster a two-thirds vote to suspend a voter-approved class size reduction measure. That could put a $2 billion hole in the freshly passed two-year budget.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a new two-year budget into law just before midnight Tuesday averting a partial government shutdown.

Recreational marijuana buyers would pay a flat 37 percent pot tax, plus sales tax, under a proposal headed to the desk of Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

The court battle over wait times for Washington jail inmates to get mental health competency exams is not over.

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is choosing to remain mostly silent about his legal troubles.

A proposal to make it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving has died in the Washington House. The measure failed to get a vote before a key deadline Tuesday.

Two of the highest priority issues for Washington House Democrats are a $12 per hour minimum wage and paid sick leave.

House Democrats on Friday unveiled a proposed $1.5 billion tax package. Senate Republicans plan to rollout their proposed budget later this week.