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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Austin Jenkins


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Rural Thurston County in Washington is the kind of place people move to for a little elbow room. But if you’re a teenager from the suburbs, life can be less than exciting.

The day 19-year-old Amber Armstrong arrived at her foster home five years ago, she starting plotting her escape.

Keenen Brown / Flickr


Washington lawmakers are considering whether to exempt amateur athletes from state labor laws.

The move comes as Washington’s four Western Hockey League teams remain under investigation for possible child labor violations.

M Glasgow / Flickr


We’ve seen rallies and demonstrations against Washington’s new voter-approved background check law. But now a gun rights group is planning a “we will not comply” gun show.

It’s dubbed the Arms Expo. It’s scheduled for the weekend of June 20 in the Yakima area at a location yet to be announced. A website bills the event as a gun show and “patriot campout for the whole family.” And it promises “no background checks, no paperwork, no infringement.”

National Institute of Mental Health

Mental health advocates in Washington are assailing a proposal to allow psychiatric boarding in limited cases.

Boarding is when mental health patients are held involuntarily in a non-psychiatric setting, like an emergency department. It was a widespread practice in Washington until last year when the Supreme Court ruled it was illegal.

Colin Fogarty


Paid sick leave and a boost in the minimum wage are among the top priorities of organized labor in Washington state this year.

Democrats in the legislature have embraced both ideas. But Republicans and business interests remain wary. Adding to the politics is the fact Seattle has already adopted these policies.


On the eve of the Super Bowl, Washington state lawmakers are considering whether to legalize fantasy sports contests.

This is where sports fans build an imaginary team based on the stats of real players. They then compete in a league with other participants.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo


Nearly two years after public radio and the Associated Press investigated lobbyist-paid meals for Washington lawmakers, the issue is still a topic of discussion in the legislature.

A Senate panel Thursday took testimony on two proposals related to gifts of food and beverage.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo


Gas prices have plummeted, but Washington’s gas tax could soon go up.

Republican Curtis King, the chair of the Senate Transportation committee, is looking at an 11.5-cent per gallon increase phased in over three years. It would help fund a $14 billion transportation package with projects on both sides of the Cascades.

Austin Jenkins


Public utility districts in Washington have the right to place power lines through state trust lands, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

This ends a years-long legal fight between Washington’s elected lands commissioner and the Okanogan PUD.

Robert Pittman / Flickr


SeaWorld is famous for its choreographed dolphin and Orca whale performances. Now a Washington state lawmaker wants to make sure what happens at SeaWorld stays at SeaWorld.

Washington state Sen. Kevin Ranker introduced legislation to prohibit marine mammal shows in Washington.

Intel Free Press / Flickr


It’s long been against the law to text and drive in Washington, but the rules would get much stricter under a proposal introduced Wednesday in the legislature.

The sponsors believe it’s time to update state law to keep up with technology. 

Brianhe / Wikimedia Commons


When police are called to a report of domestic abuse, often someone goes to jail.

In Washington state, the mandatory arrest law applies to suspects 16 and older when the officer believes a serious assault has occurred within the last four hours.

A proposal before the Washington legislature would increase the age of mandatory arrest to 18. Police could still arrest 16 and 17-year-olds, but it wouldn’t be required.

At the juvenile detention facility in King County, Washington, strip searches are common practice at intake for serious and violent offenders or those accused of a drug crime.

It’s the end of week two of Washington’s legislative session. Already more than 1,200 bills have been introduced.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will ask the legislature to amend a new voter-approved class size measure. That was the word this week from the governor’s budget director.

Austin Jenkins


At a Tuesday news conference, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said Washington’s unregulated medical marijuana industry is “unworkable” and “needs to be fixed."


Another case of avian flu has been confirmed in birds in Washington state, this time in a backyard flock in Port Angeles. The previous cases were in Whatcom and Benton counties.

Austin Jenkins


The Washington House has joined the state Senate in banning openly carried guns in the public viewing galleries.

House leaders made that announcement Monday morning following an incident in the House gallery last week.

Austin Jenkins


A Snohomish County sheriff’s deputy has been named “officer of the year” for his actions in the aftermath of the Oso landslide.

Deputy Glen Bergstrom received the honor Friday from the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Umbrellas, strollers and backpacks were already banned from the public viewing galleries in the Washington House and Senate.

Now Senate leaders have added a ban on openly-carried guns. The House may soon follow suit.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo


The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a new trial for the getaway driver in the 2009 killings of four Lakewood, Washington police officers.

Dorcus Dewayne Allen, who is also known as Darcus Allen, drove Maurice Clemmons to and from the scene of the Thanksgiving weekend shooting at a coffee shop. Allen was charged with four counts of aggravated murder.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo


Guns are allowed in the Washington state Capitol, but state law makes it illegal to carry a firearm in a manner designed to intimidate.

That made for some tense moments Thursday in the spectator gallery of the Washington House.

Ayda D / Wikimedia Commons


A popular gift now for Chinese New Year is a box of red apples from Washington. But Northwest shippers say a labor dispute at West Coast ports is jeopardizing that lucrative overseas market.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo


Washington state is at a crossroads, according to Gov. Jay Inslee.

Those were key themes Tuesday as Inslee delivered his State of the State address before a joint session of the state legislature.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo


Republicans control the Washington Senate, but Monday’s start of the 2015 session featured a Democratic insurgency.

It happened when Republicans tried to re-elect Sen. Tim Sheldon as president pro tem of the Senate. Sheldon is a Democrat who in 2012 joined with Republicans to help them take control of the Washington Senate.

Austin Jenkins

Gov. Jay Inslee wants a new capital gains tax to help fund schools and other priorities. But Republicans in the state Senate voted Monday to make it harder to get a tax proposal like that through the legislature.

Apaschen / Wikimedia Commons


School funding, a roads-and-transit package and medical marijuana are among the hot topics as the Washington legislature convenes Monday. Lawmakers plan to meet for 105 days.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is defending his call for higher taxes in 2015. The Democrat reacted Thursday to criticism from Republican lawmakers.

Washington Republicans said higher taxes should be a last resort and accused Inslee of making taxes his default position.

Wikimedia Commons


Marijuana will be among the top agenda items when the Washington legislature convenes Monday.

Specifically, lawmakers will consider what to do about the state’s unregulated medical marijuana industry.

Elway Research


Washington voters would prefer no new taxes and no deep cuts to state services. But if that’s not possible, they’re open to some new taxes.

That’s the finding of a new non-partisan poll from Stuart Elway released Tuesday.