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.

Pages

Law
10:46 am
Fri June 24, 2011

Journalist in US illegally obtained Wash. driver license

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Pulitzer prize winning journalist who is in this country illegally managed to obtain a Washington driver license – even though he doesn't live in Washington. How did he do it?

This week in the New York Times Magazine, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas revealed himself as an illegal immigrant from the Philippines. Part of his story involves obtaining a Washington driver license earlier this year – even though he doesn't reside in the state.

Read more
Rock 'n' Roll marathon
3:14 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

Wearing blue, one team runs in memory of war dead

Lisa Hallett, whose husband was killed in Afghanistan is one of the founders of Wear Blue: Run To Remember.
Chantal Anderson Northwest News Network

Lisa Hallett was cradling her 2-week-old daughter at a military family support meeting when a commander called her out of the room.

"There’s just this panic. And we walk across this big field. We're in one building, we're going to this other building and I'm like tell me John's okay, tell me John's okay."

But he wasn’t.

Read more
State funds
3:41 pm
Thu June 16, 2011

Forecast takes $570 million bite out of state reserves

Washington lawmakers left town last month with a balanced budget and $700 million in a reserve fund. However, the revenue forecast for Washington released today erases most of that cushion.

Read more
Business
10:51 am
Thu June 16, 2011

Chase ordered to disclose ATM fee

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire says JP Morgan Chase must figure out a way to make their ATMs warn welfare clients of an 85-cent fee to withdraw cash. The governor made her comments Wednesday after she declined to veto the disclosure requirement.

Read more
Elections 2012
10:10 am
Fri June 10, 2011

McKenna supports parental consent for abortion

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington's first official candidate for governor in 2012 says he supports a parental consent requirement for abortion. Republican Rob McKenna weighed in on several hot button social issues in an interview Thursday.

Read more
Business
10:16 am
Tue June 7, 2011

Chase seeks veto of fee disclosure

OLYMPIA, Wash. – JP Morgan Chase, the second largest bank in the country, is lobbying Gov. Chris Gregoire to line-item veto a requirement that the bank alert Washington cash assistance clients of an ATM fee the bank charges.

Read more
Washington State Legislature
2:00 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

It's a do-or-die week for Washington special session

It’s do-or-die week in the Washington Legislature. A budget deal will have to come together over the next several days if lawmakers are to finish business within the 30-day special session.

Read more
Banking
10:57 am
Mon May 9, 2011

Chase bank collecting hundreds of thousands in ATM fees from welfare clients

A Chase ATM
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Public records show JP Morgan Chase is collecting more than $100,000 a month in ATM fees from welfare recipients in Washington. But the bank doesn't disclose the fee at the cash machine. This is happening at the same time the state has cut the monthly benefit for families on welfare and individuals in the Disability Lifeline program.

Read more
MILITARY AND DEFENSE
12:02 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Lewis-McChord combat vet loses GI Bill for pot and spice

Former combat infantryman Bill Surwillo (left) with battle buddy Nick White.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Here's a soldier's tale. Bill Surwillo deploys to Afghanistan. Nearly a quarter of his platoon is killed. He comes home with PTSD. He turns to marijuana and spice – a synthetic version of the drug – to relax. The Army kicks him out and takes away his GI Bill. Is this fair?

Read more
Environment
3:12 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Northwest's largest coal-fired plant to shut down by 2025

File photo of the TransAlta coal plant in Centralia
Miriam Duerr Washington Dept. of Ecology

It's 14 years off in the future. But a compromise deal will shut down the Northwest's largest coal-fired power plant near Centralia. Legislation is headed to the governor's desk following a vote Thursday in the Washington senate.

Read more
LAW
5:44 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

New motorcycle law dredges up 30-year-old cop killing

An April 13th bill signing ceremony in Olympia presented a strange scene. Governor Chris Gregoire was surrounded by a motley crew of leather-clad bikers. They were there to watch her sign into law a ban on police officers profiling motorcycle riders. It was a lighthearted affair.

But some police officers aren't laughing. In fact, they're furious. One of the bikers in the room that day killed a Portland cop 30 years ago. But  the story gets even more complicated. It would take a cop's eyes to pick him out of the crowd.  It was Robert "Pigpen" Christopher, a longtime member of the Outsiders Motorcycle Club with chapters in Portland and Tacoma.

Read more
STATE BUDGET CRISIS
6:57 pm
Tue April 19, 2011

Marchers arrive at state capitol as special session looms

The Washington legislature is headed for an overtime session. The Senate late Monday approved its plan to close a 5-billion dollar budget shortfall. But it is unlikely differences between the House and Senate can be reconciled by this Sunday’s Easter deadline.

Read more
State Budget
8:44 am
Wed April 13, 2011

Senate proposes pay cut for school employees

In a rare display of bipartisanship, budget Chair Ed Murray, D-Seattle (on the left) co-wrote the Senate’s budget proposal with ranking Republican Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield
Austin Jenkins N3

Teachers and other public school employees in Washington could face a 3% pay cut. That’s one of the key cost-saving measures contained in the State Senate’s two-year budget proposal. It was unveiled late Tuesday.

Read more
Education
8:06 am
Wed April 13, 2011

Senate approves performance-based teacher lay-offs

The State Senate has approved a controversial proposal to base teacher lay-offs on performance - not seniority. The vote late Tuesday triggered a heated debate on the Senate floor and split majority Democrats. Senator Rodney Tom is a suburban Seattle Democrat. He led the charge for performance-based lay-offs:

“Why in the world would you ever lay-off a second year or third year or fourth year teacher of the year in lieu of maybe an eight or ninth year teacher who is on probation? It just makes no sense.”

Read more
Living in Gangland
10:37 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Rural gangs claim public lands

Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife officer Chad McGary briefly detains a self-described gang member who was fishing with friends
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

This week we're taking a look at what police say is a resurgence of gang activity - especially in rural areas. In part one of our series “Living In Gangland," we go on patrol with a Washington Fish and Wildlife cop. 

Gang violence is mostly a big city problem. But in parts of the rural Northwest, police are grappling with gang rivalries, graffiti and even drive-by shootings.

Just ask Darin Smith, chief of police in Royal City, Washington, population 2,000.

Read more

Pages