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. In 2019, he received his Master of Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington Communication Leadership program. 

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

Ways to Connect

Yuen Lui

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The competition among counties to issue the first same-sex marriage license in Washington is heating up. Monday, one county auditor held a lottery to select the first ten couples who will receive their license just after midnight on Thursday.

Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman -- who is also Secretary of State-elect -- heard Seattle’s King County intended to issue the first license.

“Not that I am competitive, nor my staff is competitive and we thought ‘well wait a second, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be first, we could maybe issue the first license.’”

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A rash of accidental shootings involving kids and unsecured guns has some Washington lawmakers considering a change in the law. A legislative panel will meet Friday to discuss ways to prevent children from getting their hands on firearms.

Washington House of Representatives

Governor-elect Jay Inslee and Washington lawmakers face a nearly $3B conundrum in the next two-year budget. That's the stark assessment of House Budget Chair Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Hunter outlined the bigger-than-previously-reported budget gap in a PowerPoint slide presentation to fellow House Democrats at the start of two days of pre-session meetings at the Capitol.

US Marshals Service

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend 2009. Maurice Clemmons, an Arkansas felon living in Washington, walks into a coffee shop and guns down four Lakewood police officers. Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer described the scene as "more of an execution.”

In recognition of their tenuous majority, Senate Democrats have proposed to give minority Republicans an additional seat on each policy committee, including the budget-writing Ways and Means committee. That would mean Democrats would have just a one vote advantage over Republicans. "No majority, Republican or Democratic, has allowed for such a narrow split in at least a decade," says a Democratic Caucus press release. 

Austin Jenkins

SEATTLE, Wash. – Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee says states are the incubators of new ideas – and that should extend to marijuana legalization. Inslee Wednesday said he’s hopeful Washington’s new recreational pot law can take effect without federal interference.

Inslee didn’t support Washington’s marijuana legalization initiative. But now that it has passed he says, “The voters have spoken.”

Inslee says he will work in a “rational and mature” way to persuade the Obama administration to allow Washington to implement the law.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

OK. Let's go to Washington State to hear about the case being heard against Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He's the American soldier charged with killing or wounding 23 civilians in a rampage in Afghanistan this past March. Sergeant Bales' pretrial hearing concluded yesterday with prosecutors asking for the death penalty. We have more from Austin Jenkins of the Northwest News Network.

Austin Jenkins

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCHORD, Wash. - A pretrial hearing for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has concluded at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Bales is the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year – most of them young children. The defense is focused on Bales’ state of mind.

In closing arguments, Bales’ attorney Emma Scanlan challenged the prosecution’s assertion that Bales carried out the massacre in a methodical manner.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrat Jay Inslee says he has a 95-percent chance of ultimately winning Washington’s race for governor. That’s based on an internal statistical analysis his campaign released Friday. But with hundreds of thousands of ballots still uncounted, Republican Rob McKenna is digging in for the long haul. Meanwhile at county election offices the ballot counting is getting slower, not faster.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – New polls show Washington’s open race for governor remains close. Already hundreds of thousands of Washington voters have returned their ballots. Many more will do so in the coming days. But county auditors have a warning to voters who wait until the last minute.

In Oregon you have to have your ballot in by 8pm on Election night. But in Washington you just have to have your ballot postmarked. That means for days after the election ballots keep on rolling in and they get counted -– unless the postmark is past the due date.

What if there was a crystal ball that could reveal the outcome of an election? Turns out modern day campaigns use forecast models to project the winner of a race long before a single vote is counted.

In vote-by-mail states like Washington or Oregon, political parties and campaigns have an advantage. They can find out on a daily basis if you’ve returned your ballot.

HOQUIAM, Wash. – Nearly 300,000 people in Washington are still unemployed and looking for work. But there was reason to celebrate Monday in coastal Grays Harbor County – where the unemployment rate is tied for the highest in the state. A shuttered paper mill there recently roared back to life. With it came 175 jobs.

It was a party atmosphere inside the long, narrow shipping warehouse at Harbor Paper. Several hundred people milled about as dignitaries, including Governor Chris Gregoire, mounted a makeshift stage.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Democratic Party says it will donate contributions from controversial spiritual leader JZ Knight to the Anti-Defamation League and the campaign to uphold gay marriage. That announcement late Friday follows the release of new video clips that show Knight making offensive and at times bizarre comments about gay people and people from Mexico.

The latest video clips were released by the conservative Freedom Foundation. In them Knight says gay men were once Catholic women. And attacks people from Mexico.

Washington Secretary of State

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In the presidential race, we hear a lot about the electoral map -- and the math to winning the presidency. It’s all about swing states like Ohio and Florida. At the state level, there’s no electoral college. The candidate with the most votes wins. But there’s still a formula for victory -- even in blue states like Washington and Oregon.

Former state Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt says the way to navigate a path to victory in Washington -- if you’re a Democrat -- involves what he calls a “salt water strategy.”

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