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.

His 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. Austin was part of a team that won a 2018 national Edward R. Murrow award for breaking news coverage.

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Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington is poised to become the first state in the nation to offer a public health insurance option, as well as a new, employee-paid long-term care benefit.

Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat who is running for president, signed both landmark measures into law Monday at a packed bill signing ceremony in the State Reception Room at the Capitol in Olympia.

Kevin Mooney / Northwest News Network

At the same time Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing three Fortune 15 pharmaceutical distributors for allegedly “fueling the state’s opioid epidemic,” majority Democrats in the Washington Legislature this year left intact a generous tax break for distributors of opioids and other prescription drugs while raising taxes on other business sectors.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

Campaigning for president in California on Friday, Washington's Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, called for all new cars and new buildings to be carbon-free by 2030 and all electricity to go carbon-free by 2035.

Inslee's announcement at a press event in Los Angeles marks his first concrete policy idea since launching his campaign two months ago on a platform of combating climate change.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Opponents of affirmative action filed a referendum Monday morning to overturn Initiative 1000, which majority Democrats in the Washington Legislature passed Sunday evening in the waning hours of the 105-day legislative session. 

MOLT Studios via Recompose

Washington lawmakers just wrapped up an action-packed, 105-day session with passage of the first state budget to exceed $50 billion and a bundle of tax hikes to fund it.

WSDOT / TINYURL.COM/YDDSPL8B

Washington lawmakers adjourned at midnight Sunday after majority Democrats approved an initiative to restore affirmative action and passed a $52.4 billion, two-year state operating budget. The budget relies on an array of tax increases, including on businesses and real estate transactions, but doesn't impose a new capital gains tax as had been proposed. 

Molly Solomon / Oregon Public Broadcasting

Washington state Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, still remembers the day in 2014 that she toured a police evidence facility and saw stacks of white boxes on the shelves. She asked what they were and the answer shocked her. They were untested rape kits.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington’s three living former governors testified Thursday in favor of an initiative to once again allow affirmative action policies in public employment, education and contracting.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Four years ago this month, 25-year-old Keaton Farris died naked, dehydrated and malnourished on the floor of an isolation cell in the Island County Jail on Whidbey Island. Farris, who was bipolar and in the throes of a mental health crisis, had been arrested 18 days earlier for failing to appear in court for allegedly stealing and cashing a $355 check.

Washington Solicitor General Noah Purcell is forming an exploratory committee for attorney general in 2020.
Washington Attorney General's office

Washington Solicitor General Noah Purcell, who received national attention for challenging the Trump administration's first travel ban, has announced the formation of a committee to explore a possible run for attorney general as a Democrat in 2020. 

Washington House Republicans - tinyurl.com/yc7cqc2w

Former Washington state Rep. Matt Manweller has settled a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer, Central Washington University (CWU), for $155,000. Manweller had initially sought more than $2 million in damages.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington Senate Democrats on Friday proposed a capital gains tax that would fund a suite of tax reductions for low-income families, small businesses and senior citizen homeowners. The tax proposal was rolled out in conjunction with the Senate Democrats' unveiling of a $52 billion two-year state spending plan, which followed a House Democratic budget presentation earlier in the week. 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Washington's Gov. Jay Inslee is releasing 12 years of his tax returns and calling on President Donald Trump to do the same. Inslee, who’s running for president, made his announcement Friday morning on the TV show 'Fox and Friends' on the Fox News Network.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington's largest state-run psychiatric hospital has been cited and fined for failing to protect workers from assaults by patients. 

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington House Democrats on Monday unveiled a proposed $1.4 billion tax package, including a new capital gains tax, to fund a two-year budget with ongoing commitments to public schools, increased spending for people with mental illness and higher reimbursement rates for a wide-range of social service providers.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

To keep up with Gov. Jay Inslee as he campaigns around the country for president, the Washington State Patrol is preparing to nearly double the size and more than double the budget of the specialty unit that protects him.  

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

A Tri-Cities man who has been a frequent online critic of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he was blocked this month from commenting on Inslee's campaign Facebook page. The move comes as Inslee, a Democrat, launches his candidacy for president and his campaign says its working to make his Facebook page "a little less toxic."

Austin Jenkins

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination, signed legislation Thursday to bump the state’s presidential primary from late May to early March. It’s a move designed to make Washington, a frequently overlooked state with just 12 electoral votes, more relevant in the nominating process.

Austin Jenkins

In the woods near Olympia’s Capitol Forest, there’s a brown two-story house with unpainted plywood walls in the entryway that tell a story.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Following months of speculation, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday formally launched a campaign for president that he said would seek to mobilize the country around an ambitious plan to combat climate change.

Courtesy: Rhonda Johnson

In January 2010, Brandon Bielen was riding his motorcycle on Highway 9 in Skagit County when he collided with a car that pulled out in front of him. Bielen was airlifted from the scene in critical condition. He had turned 18 just two days earlier.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

First, he was caught on store surveillance allegedly stealing a $70 office chair. Now Washington anti-tax activist Tim Eyman has produced his own video. It shows him returning to the scene of the alleged crime.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

A Washington state lawmaker says it’s time for eastern Washington to break away and become a 51st state called Liberty in order to protect gun rights and avoid the “socialist values of downtown Seattle.”

Austin Jenkins

As Washington Gov. Jay Inslee inches closer to a likely run for president, he's starting to sound more and more like a candidate on the stump than a two-term incumbent, even when addressing audiences at home. 

Washington Senate

Former Washington state Sen. Kevin Ranker, an Orcas Island Democrat, violated Senate harassment policy in his treatment of a female subordinate during the 2010 legislative session, according to an investigative report released Friday.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Following in the steps of the European Union and California, Washington lawmakers are considering a sweeping data privacy proposal that its sponsors say could become a model for the nation.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, on a mini-barnstorm of cold, snowy and wind-whipped New Hampshire, discussed climate change with students on two college campuses Tuesday. The Democrat's trip to the first-in-the-nation primary state comes as he says he's "seriously considering" a run for president in 2020.

Austin Jenkins / NW News Network

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will take his most visible step yet towards a possible bid for president when he visits New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state, on Monday and Tuesday.

Climate change topped Gov. Jay Inslee's list of priorities in his 2019 State of the State speech.
Northwest News Network Photo/Austin Jenkins

Warning that Washington state is at a "tipping point," Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday delivered a State of the State address that called on lawmakers to address carbon pollution, "transform" the mental health system and save Puget Sound orcas.

Washington Senate

Washington state Sen. Kevin Ranker, an Orcas Island Democrat, has resigned his seat in the midst of a workplace conduct investigation. In a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee dated Friday, Ranker, who served in the Senate for a decade, said his resignation was effective immediately. The state's 105 day legislative session starts Monday.

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