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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Other News
3:14 pm
Fri November 4, 2011

Alleged "kill team" leader takes stand in his own defense

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The alleged ringleader of the so-called Army “kill team” war crimes case took the stand in his own defense Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs is charged with murdering three civilians while deployed in Afghanistan last year. Correspondent Austin Jenkins says under defense questioning Gibbs justified his killing of one of the victims.

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Budget crisis
3:59 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

Seattle think tank floats state capital gains tax

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington voters last year rejected a state income tax on high-wage earners. Now a left-of-center think tank is proposing a tax on investors to help bail out the state budget.

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Environment
9:25 am
Wed November 2, 2011

Washington plans to raise fees for dam inspections

A Dam breach piping failure in Walla Walla County.
Washington Dept. of Ecology

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Northwest is known for its big hydroelectric dams. But across the region there are also hundreds of smaller non-hydro dams. Some of them hold back water, but others retain dairy waste or sewage.

In Washington, the operators of these structures could soon pay more in annual fees to cover the cost of inspections.

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Budget crisis
11:58 am
Thu October 27, 2011

Gregoire proposes $2 billion in cuts; new taxes still on the table

Wash. Gov. Chris Gregoire Says She’s Open To “Revenues” At Offset Another $2 Billion In Cuts
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire says it’s time to look for new sources of funding for the state budget. That’s a major shift from her position a year ago. The Democrat’s comments today came after she proposed another $2 billion in cuts.

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Economy
10:50 am
Thu October 27, 2011

Canadian electricity giant opens U.S. headquarters in Olympia

Governor Chris Gregoire at TransAlta's ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new US headquarters in Olympia

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 11:05 am

Canadian electricity giant TransAlta has already agreed to shut down its coal-fired power plant in southwest Washington by 2025. But the company isn’t packing up and leaving. In fact, Wednesday the Alberta-based company opened its first US headquarters in Olympia.

Paul Taylor will head TransAlta’s US operations. He calls Washington’s capital city a “sweet spot” location for the company.

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Washington trade
5:10 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Wash. governor defers to State Dept. on human rights in China

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has returned from her second trade mission to China. The state’s Tibetan community wanted her to press Communist officials on the issue of human rights.

But the Democratic governor believes that’s the role of the State Department.

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Washington state legislature
10:50 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Coroner: Heart condition caused state senator’s death

A Washington state senator found dead in his hotel room Friday died of heart failure – the result of a previously undiagnosed enlarged heart. That’s the finding of an autopsy this weekend.

Democrat Scott White was 41 years old. A public memorial is planned possibly later this week.

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Initiative battle
2:13 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Costco burns up record $22 million to privatize liquor

Can Costco buy a win in the initiative battle over privatizing alcohol sales?
Joel Goodman Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The fight to privatize liquor sales in Washington just got a lot more expensive. Costco has dumped another $9 million into the Yes on Initiative 1183 campaign.

That brings the wholesale giant’s total spending to more than $22 million – a state record for a ballot measure.

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Domestic Partnership
10:09 am
Wed October 19, 2011

Gay rights group to publish names of R-71 petition signers

In 2009 Ref. 71 asked voters to approve or reject granting registered domestic partners additional state rights previously given only to married couples. It was approved with 53 percent of the vote.
Elaine Thompson AP

Washington voters who signed an anti-domestic partnership petition in 2009 can expect their names to appear online within a month. That's the word Tuesday from a Massachusetts-based gay rights group called "Know Thy Neighbor."

Referendum 71 was a failed effort by opponents of gay marriage to repeal Washington's "everything but marriage" domestic partnership law. Now, following a protracted legal battle, a federal judge has ordered the petitions be made public.

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Budget crisis
4:31 pm
Thu October 13, 2011

State workers picket over Western State Hospital closures

Western State Hospital nurse Celia Gorski joins a picket to protest the proposed closure of five wards in a cost-cutting move.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – Unionized state workers are protesting a cost-cutting proposal to close five wards at one of Washington's mental institutions. More than a dozen employees staged a lunch-time picket Thursday outside Western State Hospital.

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Elections 2011
3:24 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Bellevue developer backs I-1125, wants to reengineer state roads

Kemper Freeman has become the money and the mouth behind Tim Eyman’s latest initiative, one that would limit highway tolling.
Northwest News Network

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Usually, high dollar political contributors let their money do the talking. They write big checks to campaigns, but otherwise stay behind the scenes. Not so with Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman. He’s become the money and the mouth behind Tim Eyman’s latest initiative – to limit highway tolling.

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Obituary
2:54 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Former Washington Gov. Rosellini remembered as reformer

In this file photo, date and location not known, former Washington Gov. Al Rosellini, second from right, votes as his wife, Ethel, right, and his daughter, Lynn, third from right, look on.
Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Former Washington Governor Albert Rosellini is being remembered as a reformer. Rosellini died today at the age of 101 of complications from pneumonia.

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Business
8:11 pm
Sun October 2, 2011

Minimum wage in Washington will rise to $9.04 in January

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Despite a slow economic recovery, inflation is up. That means Washington’s minimum wage will increase to more than $9 an hour starting in January.

That was the announcement Friday from the state. The wage hike is based on a voter approved initiative that links the minimum wage to inflation.

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Education
9:44 am
Fri September 30, 2011

State school's chief defies Gregoire's request for list of cuts

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington schools chief Randy Dorn has defied a request by the governor to provide a list of new education budget cuts. Instead, Dorn sent Governor Chris Gregoire a letter that explains why he told his staff not to respond to her request.

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Murder of Tom Wales
6:32 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Calls for information in decade-old federal prosecutor murder case

Images of federal prosecutor Tom Wales, who was shot dead in the basement of his Seattle home.

It's been 10 years since federal prosecutor Tom Wales was shot dead in the basement of his Seattle home. The case has never been solved. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Seattle Wednesday to bring fresh attention to the cold case.

At a news conference, Holder asked anyone with knowledge of the crime to come forward. Wales' daughter, Amy, also read a lengthy statement.

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