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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Northwest News Network

NEAR CLE ELUM, Wash. – Anti-poverty activists tried to crash a meeting of business leaders at a resort in Central Washington. The action – dubbed “Showdown at Suncadia” – happened today as the state’s chamber of commerce held its annual policy summit.

Northwest News Network

NEAR JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Some anti-war veterans – and an Army widow – are demanding a Congressional investigation into an apparent spike in suicides at Joint Base Lewis-McChord . So far this year nine soldiers are believed to have killed themselves, including five in the month of July alone.

Flickr

Some doctors on the faculty of Northwest medical schools are getting paid by pharmaceutical companies to give talks on new drugs.

Harvard and Stanford have banned this practice. But not Oregon Health and Science University or the University of Washington. Now some medical students want similar bans here.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A loan program the Washington legislature created in 2008 to help small manufacturers hasn’t had a single taker. That’s the finding of a legislative audit that recommends the program be terminated.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The words “special session” and even “taxes” are on the lips of some Washington state lawmakers after the latest revenue forecast.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington's latest revenue forecast predicts a $1.4 billion drop in tax collections through June of 2013.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – There’s new hope among minority groups in Washington that the state could soon have a majority-minority Congressional district. This fresh optimism follows Tuesday’s unveiling of four competing proposals to redraw the state’s political boundaries – and add a tenth Congressional seat.

A follow up now to a story we brought you last week about doctors who get paid by drug makers to give promotional talks. The top three earning doctors in the Northwest did not return our calls for that story. But later a psychiatrist in Tacoma did. And he makes no apologies for accepting pharmaceutical payments.

Associated Press

Port managers and workers up and down the west coast are closely watching the unrest in Longview, Wash. That’s where unionized longshoremen early Thursday morning stormed a port terminal and clashed with police.

If the unrest continues, this could be the first time west coast shipping is brought to a standstill in nearly 10 years.

Charles Kaiser / Flickr

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Across the Northwest, thousands of physicians are receiving payments from drug makers. In the last three years, it all adds up to $12 million in Washington, $6 million in Oregon and $2.5 million in Idaho.

Some of that money is for drug research. Other payments are for a meal or a trip to a conference. But in many cases doctors are getting paid to give talks to other medical providers on behalf of a drug company.

Associated Press

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is calling for a lower corporate tax rate. Schultz made his comments during a town hall meeting Tuesday night hosted by the anti-partisanship group “No Labels”

Northwest News Network

A power surge and outage on Washington’s Capitol campus last month shut down the state’s data center. The accident also caused half-a-million dollars damage to an underground electricity vault.

State officials did not publicize the incident. It is just now coming to light.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington's Lands Commissioner, Peter Goldmark, says his fight with Okanogan County over a power transmission line has implications for all state trust lands. The Supreme Court last week ordered Attorney General Rob McKenna's office to represent Goldmark in his court appeal to block new power lines.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington is likely losing tens of millions of dollars a year in Medicaid fraud. Two state senators – a Democrat and a Republican – want to recover more of that money.

They want to allow Medicaid fraud whistleblowers to file their own lawsuits and collect a monetary reward. But their crusade has run afoul of doctors, hospitals and drug makers.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Reflections from someone who plays one of the more visible security roles in the post-9/11 Northwest:

"My name is Sgt. Kerry Kintzley. I'm a Sergeant with the Washington State Patrol. I work at the Washington State ferry system screening vehicles prior to their boarding. Sissy ... is a four-year-old Lab Vizsla mix trained to detect explosives.

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