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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Washington state abolished parole more than 30 years ago. Now, there’s a push by some inmate advocates to bring parole back. They had a chance to make their case Tuesday before a panel of state lawmakers.

Partisan tensions are building over the early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates that resulted in two deaths. Republicans held a third hearing Monday into the matter.

The state of Washington spends about $1 billion per year on prescription drugs -- that’s state and federal funds. And the cost has been going up. Now some state lawmakers are wondering if there’s a way to drive a better bargain. Or at least shed some new light on how drugs are priced.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has released a 52-page investigative report by two former federal prosecutors, Carl Blackstone and Robert Westinghouse, into the early release of nearly 3,000 prison inmates over a 13-year period. Those releases resulted in two deaths.

The stage is set in Olympia for a fight over eliminating tax breaks and whether to dip into the state’s rainy day fund. House Democrats say ‘yes’ to both. Senate Republicans say ‘no’.

Washington Republicans have said the state Supreme Court’s sanction over school funding “presents a clear threat” to separation of powers. Now the chief justice of the Supreme Court is offering her perspective.

More than a decade ago, Washington voters approved a ballot measure requiring performance audits of state and local government programs. But now Washington’s deputy state auditor says funding for those performance audits is imperiled. And she’s concerned it’s because of elected auditor Troy Kelley’s legal troubles.

The state lawyer at the center of an early release error involving Washington prison inmates has testified under oath for the first time. Two deaths are attributed to the mistake.

Washington lawmakers plan to tap the state’s rainy day fund to pay for last summer’s devastating wildfires. But legislative Democrats said several other crises also deserve immediate funding.

The accidental early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates will be the subject of a three hour legislative hearing Monday. Meanwhile, the findings of a separate investigation ordered by Governor Jay Inslee are expected to be released this week.

A Washington state correctional officer is recovering at home after a vicious assault. The attack came almost five years to the day after another prison guard was murdered. This latest incident is renewing questions about staffing levels inside Washington’s prisons.

Some school children say the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. Now Washington lawmakers are making a pledge: to end the reliance on local school district levies to fund basic education -- by next year.

Complying with a state Supreme Court order to fully fund public schools in Washington might have just gotten even harder. A new revenue forecast out Wednesday projects a sizable drop-off in tax dollars flowing to state coffers.

Barry Massey became a symbol for juvenile justice reform after he was sentenced to life in prison without parole at age 14. Now 42, Massey was released Tuesday after a change in state law.

In the aftermath of last Friday's vote by the Republican-led Washington Senate not to confirm Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson, essentially firing her on the spot, an email went out to all staff at the Department of Transportation.

Three-strikes offenders serving life in prison without the possibility of parole should get a “second look.” That’s the position of Washington’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission.

Should Washington’s Constitution be amended to require a two-thirds vote for tax hikes? The Republican-led state Senate voted “yes” to that Friday. But supporters failed to muster the supermajority vote required to send the question to voters.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said an investigation into the early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates should be finished soon. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans got an update from their investigator on a separate inquiry underway.

A new rule that lets transgender people in Washington choose whether to use the men’s or women’s facilities will stand -- for now. The state Senate Wednesday afternoon narrowly defeated an effort to repeal the rule.

In 2005, Washington state set a goal: Cut homelessness statewide by 50 percent by 2015. Ten years later the results are in and they’re far short of the target. Homelessness was reduced by only 22.5 percent statewide.

Some people ride the bus to work. Some rent a bus to party on. So-called party buses have been in the news a lot in recent years because of accidents and deaths across the country.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has cancelled a series of regularly scheduled meetings with the Republican leader of the state Senate. The move follows Friday’s surprise vote by Senate Republicans to oust Inslee’s Secretary of Transportation.

The Republican leader of the Washington Senate said he regrets using the word “racist” to describe ousted Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson.

Two of the three brothers accused in last week’s fatal shooting at a Seattle homeless encampment have juvenile records. But neither qualified for supervised parole after they were released from juvenile lock-up.

You’ve heard of sex offender registries. The state of Washington also has a registry for people convicted of gun-related felonies. But it’s hardly used.

Schools shooters often threaten violence before they act. But according to an FBI guide to school shootings, students who hear these threats rarely tell an adult.

A delegation from a tiny eastern Washington farm town is rallying to protect a walking, biking and horse riding trail that spans the state. They trekked to the Capitol to make their case.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said he’s “undaunted” after a partisan dust up over school funding. The Democrat Thursday sounded a hopeful note that lawmakers will find common ground.

Washington prison officials have said a computer programming error led to the accidental early release of more than 3,000 inmates over 13 years. Documents obtained by public radio reveal that a decade ago sentencing calculation errors plagued a major IT upgrade.

Allowing transgender people access to the restroom or locker room of their choice stirs strong feelings. Advocates on both sides of that debate packed a hearing room in Olympia Wednesday.

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