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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Minimum Wage
5:18 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Governor Inslee Says It's Time For Statewide Minimum Wage Discussion

In this Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 photo, wheelchair attendant Erick Conley, left, assists an elderly passenger heading overseas at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s time for a discussion on raising the state’s already highest-in-the-nation minimum wage. The Democrat’s comments Thursday come in the wake of a vote in the city of SeaTac and a new push by Seattle Mayor-Elect Ed Murray to raise the local minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The governor stopped short of calling for a $15 statewide minimum wage.

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Boeing Package
1:16 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Inslee On Boeing’s Demands: ‘No, It Is Not Fair, But It is Real’

FILE - Gov. Jay Inslee speaks at a signing event for legislation to help keep production of Boeing's new 777X in Washington, Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says he stands by the decision to extend nearly $9 billion in tax breaks to Boeing in an effort to win the 777X. But in comments made Thursday, he made it clear he doesn’t like playing the corporate tax subsidy game. 

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Transportation Package
9:53 am
Thu December 19, 2013

No Deal On Gas Tax Package, Talks To Resume In January

Associated Press

Gov. Jay Inslee’s hopes for a gas tax package agreement before the end of the year have been dashed. The Democrat announced  Wednesday evening that with no deal at hand, talks are over for now, but will resume in January.

Inslee made his announcement flanked by House and Senate transportation leaders. It follows a dozen negotiating sessions in recent weeks. Among the roadblocks to agreement: a dispute over whether to put sales tax proceeds from transportation projects back into transportation instead of the state’s general fund.

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Legal Marijuana
10:39 am
Wed December 18, 2013

RAND Study: Pot Use In Washington Double Original Projections

presensa420 Flickr

The amount of marijuana smoked, eaten and otherwise consumed in Washington each year is double the original projections, according to a long-awaited study released Wednesday by the RAND Corporation.

The findings come as Washington prepares to license hundreds of new marijuana businesses.

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State Budget
1:13 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Inslee Proposes More Prison Beds, But No Teacher COLAs In Budget Update

Members of the Washington Education Association wore these buttons to the governor's supplemental budget rollout to signify five years without voter-approved cost-of-living increases.
Austin Jenkins

More prison beds, but no cost-of-living raises for school teachers were the two takeaways after Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday proposed a modest update to the state’s two-year budget.

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Legal Marijuana
5:02 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Seed-To-Sale Tracking Alone Won’t Stop Marijuana 'Leakage'

As Washington moves to legalize recreational pot, the U.S. Department of Justice is prioritizing preventing so-called “leakage” to other states like Oregon and Idaho.

Barcodes will help the state track marijuana from seed to sale. But technology alone won’t keep Washington pot in Washington. And some think the concern about leakage is overblown.

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Obituary
4:23 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Foster Care and Public Defense among Justice Chambers’ Legacies

Former Washington Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers died of cancer at age 70.
Credit: Chambers Retirement Video 2012

In 12 years on the Washington Supreme Court, Justice Tom Chambers authored two groundbreaking opinions: one on foster care, the other on indigent defense. The former justice died late Wednesday at the age of 70.

In 2003, Chambers wrote the unanimous majority opinion in a case that put a spotlight on how often foster children in Washington bounce from home to home. 

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lobbyists & legislators
5:00 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

State Lawmakers to Get Clearer Guidance on Lobbyist-Paid Meals

Associated Press

Washington lawmakers will soon get clearer guidance on when it’s appropriate to accept free meals from lobbyists.

The state’s Legislative Ethics Board on Tuesday wrapped up a months-long review of lobbyist-paid meals. The move followed our investigation earlier this year into lawmakers who regularly dine out at lobbyist expense.

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Politics
3:39 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Frosty Politics on Display at Wash. State Capitol

This sign at the steps to the Washington statehouse captures more than just the weather conditions.

Like the weather, political relations in the Washington state Capitol have taken a frosty turn.

With split control of the Legislature, grueling negotiations have become the norm, first on the budget earlier this year and now on transportation funding. And the partisan divide cuts against a refrain you hear a lot in Olympia: “We’re not Washington, D.C.”

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boeing decision
11:39 am
Mon December 9, 2013

State Bids to Boeing Due Tuesday

File - In this Nov. 11, 2013 file photo Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, adjusts his glasses as he prepares to sign legislation in Seattle to help keep production of Boeing's new 777X in Washington.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Tuesday is the deadline is for states to submit their bids to Boeing in hopes of winning the 777X assembly line.

Washington is competing with more than a dozen other locations to build the next generation wide-body airliner. The competitors include Utah, California, Missouri and Alabama.  

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climate change
4:57 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Testy Exchanges, No Consensus on Governor’s Climate Change Panel

Gov. Jay Inslee has been dealt a setback in his campaign to reduce carbon emissions. The governor’s climate change workgroup quickly adjourned Friday with no consensus and after some testy exchanges.

Inslee wanted the workgroup to adopt five recommendations to the Legislature, including a proposal for the state to enact a market-based cap on carbon pollution. But when it came time for the Republicans on the panel to weigh in, they made it clear all of the governor’s proposals were non-starters—at least without more information on the cost.

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boeing decision
11:30 am
Thu December 5, 2013

St. Louis Machinists President Changes Tune for Hometown Press

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett, Wash.
Ashley Gross KPLU

The president of the St. Louis machinists union now says he’s “prepared and ready to sit down with Boeing” to discuss moving 777X production to Missouri. The union chief’s comments Thursday come one day after he said the work should remain in Washington.

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boeing decision
5:01 am
Thu December 5, 2013

St. Louis Machinists President: Keep 777X in Washington

The president of the machinists union in St. Louis says Boeing should build the 777X in Washington. And he’s angrily denying reports that his members would accept the Boeing contract recently rejected by Northwest machinists.

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boeing decision
5:52 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Sound Familiar? Gov. Calls Boeing Special Session...in Missouri

Boeing's 777 assembly line in Everett, Wash.
Ashley Gross KPLU

A team at Washington’s Department of Commerce is working to complete a lengthy questionnaire for Boeing as part of a multi-state competition to land the 777X assembly line.

Meantime, state lawmakers in Missouri convened Monday in a special session aimed at improving that state’s chances.

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corporate tax breaks
2:21 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

State Lawmakers Hear Pitch for Corporate Tax Disclosure

Associated Press

The issue of tax transparency in Washington is getting fresh attention on the heels of a major tax deal for Boeing. The message Friday at a legislative hearing was that the public deserves to know how much publicly-traded companies pay in state taxes.

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