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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Business
2:36 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Businesses get a $350M break from state worker programs

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington businesses will get some unexpected tax relief next year – to the tune of $350 million. Governor Chris Gregoire made the announcement Thursday in Olympia.

“There will be no overall increase in workers’ compensation rates in 2012 and an actual reduction in unemployment insurance rates for all rate classes," Gregoire said.

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Budget crisis
6:00 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Protesters continue disruptions at Washington Legislature

Washington State Troopers remove members of the “Occupy” movement who disrupted a senate budget hearing in Olympia.
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – State troopers arrested ten people at the Washington state capitol Tuesday. Four of them after protesters disrupted a Washington legislative committee.

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Budget crisis
3:26 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Protesters disrupt start to Washington special session

Protesters demonstrate against budget cuts, Monday inside the House chamber at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., on the first day of a special legislative session. ---------------------------------------------------
Ted S. Warren The Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Protesters disrupted the start to Washington's 30-day special session. Lawmakers have returned to the Capitol to deal with a $1.4 billion budget shortfall.

Students and others associated with the Occupy movement took over the House and Senate galleries and delayed a budget committee hearing.

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Budget crisis
2:50 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Gregoire proposes half-cent sales tax increase for Washington

Gov.Chris Gregoire discusses her half-cent sales tax proposal To “buy back” some cuts.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Republicans call it a bad idea. Advocates on the left say it’s not enough. Those are some of the responses to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire’s proposal Monday to temporarily raise the state sales tax.

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Budget crisis
5:23 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Cuts and new revenue state budget proposals set for Monday

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor Chris Gregoire is set to propose a mix of cuts and new revenues to close a $1.4 billion budget shortfall. The Democrat has scheduled a news conference Monday morning.

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Mentally Ill Juveniles
10:37 am
Mon November 14, 2011

Mentally ill juveniles cycle in and out of detention

Every year in the Northwest, thousands of mentally ill teenagers get caught up in the juvenile justice system. In fact, some counties estimate more than half of the kids they place behind bars have a diagnosable mental health condition like schizophrenia, bi-polar or personality disorder. Yet many of these teens do not get the treatment they need. Instead, they cycle in and out of detention.

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Election 2011
2:53 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

Washington liquor employees brace for the unemployment line

Control Board clerk Lidia Giusti uses a metal bar to straighten rows of liquor on shelves in Oct. 31 at a new state liquor store in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle.
Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The mood in state liquor stores across Washington is subdued. More than nine-hundred state employees face lay-off with the passage of Costco-backed Initiative 1183 .

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Election 2011
10:16 am
Wed November 9, 2011

State control of liquor sales to end in Washington

Washington voters have ended nearly 80 years of state-controlled liquor sales. As of Tuesday night, Initiative 1183 was passing with 60 percent of the vote. The measure privatizes the sale of booze and closes state liquor stores.

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Protesting Wall Street
12:21 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Police make drug arrests at sleepy Occupy Olympia site

The scene at Occupy Olympia.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Occupy Olympia, part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been a rather sleepy affair. That is until this past weekend. That’s when state troopers moved in and made a series of arrests.

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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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