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 lawmakers return to Olympia this week, but not for a special session. They're getting organized for the regular session in January. That will bring out advocates who plan to stage protests over looming budget cuts.

Courtesy of Mary Jaskolski.

It was national news when a Washington-based soldier just back from Afghanistan died in a shootout with police in Salt Lake City. That was in August. Around the same time another soldier from the same brigade also died violently. But his death didn’t get much notice. It happened on a dark two-lane road in rural Wisconsin.  

AP (Ted Warren)

It was one year ago that four Lakewood police officers were gunned down in a coffee shop. Their assailant was Arkansas parolee Maurice Clemmons who was later shot and killed by a Seattle police officer. Today Governor Chris Gregoire will help dedicate a memorial to the slain officers at Lakewood’s police headquarters. 

Three years ago Washington voters upheld the Insurance Fair Conduct Act. It allows triple damages when insurance companies are found to have unfairly denied a claim. At the time, the insurance industry warned premiums would skyrocket and lawyers would get rich. Has that happened? 

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Was there a breakdown of leadership in the 5th Stryker Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord? That question is central to a month-old Army review that’s just now coming to light. It’s the latest development in the case against a dozen soldiers recently back from Afghanistan – including five who’ve been charged with murder.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning for one of the five Washington-based Army soldiers charged with war crimes while deployed to Afghanistan. 

The union which represents home health workers in Washington is reacting angrily to a move by Governor Chris Gregoire on Friday to cancel several collective bargaining agreements and ordered state employees back to the negotiating table.

McNeil Island
Austin Jenkins / KPLU

Washington's oldest prison will close by April 1st, a casualty of the state's current budget crisis. McNeil Island Corrections Center's 500 inmates will be moved to other facilities. Some of the 245 employees will be reassigned, while others stand to lose their jobs.

In the coming days, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire will provide lawmakers with a list of budget-cutting options. It’s a first step in what could lead to a special session of the legislature before the year is out.

AP

Unionized prison employees will picket outside the Monroe prison this morning. They’re protesting budget cuts. The union has also filed a formal lawsuit.

US Army

Private First Class Andrew Holmes of Boise joined the Army the day he turned 18. That was two years ago. By his 19th birthday he was fighting in Afghanistan. But he turned 20 this past August locked-up in an Army brig in Western Washington.

AP

Democrat Patty Murray has slightly expanded her lead over Republican Dino Rossi in Washington's too-close-to-call U-S Senate Race. Democrats remain confident she will ultimately prevail in her re-election bid.

AP photo

Election lawyers are on stand-by in Washington in the event of a super-close U-S Senate race. Polls show Republican challenger Dino Rossi neck-and-neck with incumbent Democrat Patty Murray.

Rossi knows a thing or two about close elections. He was the Republican candidate in 2004 when Washington’s gubernatorial race ended up in court. He ultimately lost by a mere 133-votes after an election contest trial. Rossi clearly hopes the lawyers aren’t needed like they were in 2004.

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