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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labor dispute
9:37 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Longshoremen Take Down Picket Line; Bertha to Resume Digging

WSDOT

The tunnel-boring machine known as Big Bertha will resume digging after longshoremen agreed to remove their picket line which had been in place since Aug. 20.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday said the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19 agreed to let the project resume despite an unresolved labor dispute with the project contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, over four jobs.

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Politics
5:57 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Governor Boosts Salaries for Several Cabinet Positions

<> Flickr

Since taking office in January, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has raised the salaries for several cabinet level positions. In total, those raises add up to nearly $100,000 over the course of a year. The boost in salaries comes even as the state continues to recover financially.

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marijuana money
4:30 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Pot Taxes Paid in Cash? Wash. State Says OK

File image
Ed Andrieski Associated Press

Marijuana-based businesses in Washington will be able to pay their taxes in cash, according to the state’s Department of Revenue. The agency is gearing up for more cash filers in its field offices.

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regulating marijuana
10:10 am
Wed September 4, 2013

State Liquor Board Announces Proposed Caps on Recreational Pot

AP Photos

The state of Washington can produce, at most 40 metric tons, or 2 million square feet, of marijuana per year, the state Liquor Control Board said in its revised proposed rules for recreational pot on Wednesday.  

A total of 334 pot stores will be allowed statewide, the board said, and each county will have its own cap.

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Amber Alerts Explained
2:30 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Amber Alerts Not Issued for Every Missing Child

File image
Nati Harnik Associated Press

The recent case of two missing children from Washington has raised fresh questions about the Amber Alert system. The brother and sister from Pierce County were located and are safe, but their disappearance did not trigger an Amber Alert.

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marijuana regulation
11:58 am
Tue September 3, 2013

State Liquor Board to Propose Caps on Pot Production, Stores

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

We’re about to find out the number of marijuana retail store locations that will be allowed in each of Washington’s 39 counties. The state’s Liquor Control Board plans to release that information Wednesday as part of the latest draft rules for Washington’s new legal pot marketplace.

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citizen lobbyist
5:01 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Determined Father Learns the Ropes in Olympia, Advances Bill

Citizen lobbyist Jeff Schwartz with his wife Cathy and sons Jacob (on couch) and Sam at their home in Kirkland, Washington.

There are nearly 900 registered lobbyists in Washington state. These are the paid professionals who try to influence the outcome of the legislative process.

But this year, a determined dad proved even outsiders can play the legislative game with a bit of help.

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regulating marijuana
3:44 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

City Moratoriums Could Thwart Legal Pot

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Legal pot? Not so fast. That’s the message from a growing number of Washington cities.

Several municipalities are considering whether to pass a moratorium on pot-related businesses. Others, like Bellingham and Olympia, have already enacted temporary bans. 

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Afghan civilian killing
9:19 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Afghan Victims Testify in Bales Sentencing Hearing

DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock, File/AP Photo

An Afghan father broke down in a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and tried to leave the witness stand.

The emotional outburst Tuesday came during the sentencing hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who pleaded guilty to murdering 16 Afghan villagers in March of last year.

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Growing marijuana
5:01 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Wash. State Compiles List of Pesticides for Marijuana Growers

Associated Press

The state of Washington has compiled a lengthy list of pesticides for marijuana growers to use, even though these chemicals are not officially approved for pot. The new list is part of the state’s ongoing effort to regulate the production of legal, recreational marijuana.

Cannabis is about to become Washington’s newest, legal cash crop. Like any crop, marijuana plants are susceptible to pests. Since pot cultivation is against federal law, there are no pesticides approved by the Environmental Protection Agency specifically for cannabis.

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public health
10:50 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Controversy over State Role in Hospital Mergers

The state of Washington is just beginning the process of writing new rules to govern hospital mergers. But already there’s controversy over what role the state should play when religious health care providers propose to take over hospitals.

The pace of hospital mergers has picked up in recent years amid a climate of healthcare consolidation. Many of them involved Catholic-based providers. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and other organizations are concerned this trend could limit access to end-of-life and reproductive services.

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Lost in Translation
7:01 am
Sun July 28, 2013

State's Translated Health Exchange Fact Sheets Get Poor Marks

Call it a case of “lost in translation.” Washington and Oregon’s new health insurance exchanges are getting poor marks for their efforts to communicate with foreign language audiences.

On the Washington Health Benefit Exchange website, you can find fact sheets in eight foreign languages, from Cambodian to Somali. These one- and two-page documents are supposed to help uninsured families navigate the new world of the Affordable Care Act.

But after the translations went live on the website, the feedback wasn't so good.

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lobbyists & legislators
11:57 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Legislative Ethics Board to Investigate Lobbyist Paid Meals

<> Flickr

Washington’s Legislative Ethics Board has launched an investigation into lobbyist paid meals for lawmakers.

The inquiry follows our reporting with the Associated Press on lawmakers who dine out the most with lobbyists.

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dangers of canning
7:01 am
Sat July 20, 2013

Home Canning Hobby Leads to Near-Fatal Medical Emergency

Mike O’Connell
Austin Jenkins

Home canning is regaining popularity as part of the local food movement. If done right, families can enjoy home grown fruits, vegetables and even meat all through the winter. But if done wrong, it can be devastating, if not deadly.

A lawyer for the state of Washington recently learned that lesson the hard way.

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Drunk driving law
12:00 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Victim, Prosecutor Say New DUI Law Is Progress, But Not Enough

Dan Schulte, with his sister at his side, speaks at the bill signing ceremony for Washington’s new DUI law.
Austin Jenkins

Second-time drunk drivers in Washington will go directly to jail. They’ll also be required to get an ignition interlock device within five days.

Those are just two of the provisions in a sweeping new DUI measure signed into law Thursday. But already there are calls for even tougher penalties in the future.

The bill signing ceremony took place at a State Patrol field office. Gov. Jay Inslee was flanked by police, prosecutors, lawmakers, and victims.

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