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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Police, prosecutors and victims say it’s time for the state of Washington to crack down on prohibited gun buyers. Lawmakers heard testimony Thursday on a proposal to require gun dealers to alert authorities when someone tries to buy a gun and fails a background check.

Washington Senate Republicans are looking for ways to save money on state subsidized child care for low-income families. And they think they’ve found a way.

Washington Senate Republicans have proposed a $5 billion increase in state spending over the next two years, including $1.8 billion more for public schools in an attempt to satisfy a Supreme Court ruling that found the state is not adequately funding K-12 education.

Washington’s 105-day legislative session is more than half over. But the big job of negotiating a new two-year state budget has yet to begin. Senate Republicans are expected to unveil their budget proposal early this week, followed by House Democrats.

President Donald Trump has made it clear climate change is not a priority for his administration, but it is still a top issue for Democratic governors and lawmakers in Washington and Oregon.

In Oregon, there’s talk of a cap-and-trade system. And in Washington, the idea of a carbon tax keeps popping up as Democrats and Republicans face off over the budget.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is calling the Republican healthcare plan in Congress “a disaster.” Inslee made his comments Wednesday as new projections on the impact to the state were released.

The next generation of cell technology will feature smaller antennas in more places and will eventually lead to 5G connectivity. Wireless carriers are pushing legislation in Washington state to give them access to power poles, street lights and other public infrastructure for placement of the small antennas.

But this has created a fight with cities.

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Polluting industries in Washington state don’t like Gov. Jay Inslee’s cap on carbon emissions -- and they don’t think it’s legal.

Inslee’s clean air rule was unveiled last September and went into effect in October. It’s been called a first-of-its-kind rule that caps and reduces carbon pollution by requiring polluters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over time.

Gun rights advocates are declaring victory after several firearms-related measures failed to advance in the Washington Legislature. But gun control advocates say they see momentum on their side.

Washington state school districts will not go over the so-called “levy cliff.” At least not next year. The state House Thursday sent the governor a bipartisan measure to extend current levy capacity for another year.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he has “major concerns” about President Donald Trump’s new executive order on immigration and refugees. But the Democrat says the fact Trump rescinded his previous travel ban Monday represents a “victory.”

In 2014 and 2015, Washington's prison system experienced a spike in inmate suicides. During those two years 11 inmate deaths were ruled suicides, giving Washington one of the highest prison suicide rates in the country. Austin Jenkins has spent the past year investigating how this happened and how the prison system responded.

A measure to crack down on prohibited gun buyers has passed the Washington state House. Lawmakers voted 84 to 13 vote Friday to require gun dealers to alert the State Patrol when someone fails a background check to buy a gun.

The Washington state House has voted to give added protections to sick workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Washington state’s 105-day legislative session is almost at the halfway point. But a final, bipartisan deal on school funding could still be months away.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee used words like “shocked” and “troubled” after attending events with President Donald Trump and members of his administration in Washington, D.C., in recent days. And the Democrat said he’s “more concerned,” not less concerned, after meeting with Trump Monday.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Con Air, you know that high-risk prison inmates are sometimes moved around the country on charter flights. It turns out the state of Washington has its own version of Con Air.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he’s “deeply disappointed” by comments President Trump’s spokesman made Thursday about legalized marijuana.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order Thursday in response to President Donald Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The Democrat said the state will not participate in “mean-spirited policies” on immigration.

This week, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security announced an aggressive plan to deport people who are in the United States illegally and who run afoul of the law.

On a visit to Olympia on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Patty Murray described the policy as “very wrongheaded.”

Former Washington state Sen. Don Benton said he’s “very excited” about the confirmation of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Benton is a senior adviser to the White House at EPA.

Washington prosecutors say state law makes it nearly impossible to criminally charge a police officer who uses deadly force. Now a key state lawmaker predicts that law will change this year.

When a convicted felon, domestic abuser or fugitive tries to buy a gun in Oregon and is denied after a background check, a state trooper comes calling. Sometimes it leads to an arrest and prosecution.

But when this happens in Washington, it’s a different story.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson predicts future legal battles with President Donald Trump. The Democrat said Wednesday that he’s prepared to sue the president again if he feels Washington state is harmed by White House actions.

A bipartisan proposal to repeal the death penalty in Washington state will get a hearing Wednesday morning. But the Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee said there’s no plan to hold a vote on the measure.

When President Donald Trump signed an executive order on immigration and refugees last month, it was Washington state that led the legal battle to overturn it. Now, after a string of court rulings, it appears that the fight could be be heading all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And the question many people are asking is, why Washington?

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco Thursday afternoon refused to reinstate President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations. The court left in place a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is vowing to continue to resist policies from President Donald Trump. At a news conference Thursday, the Democrat said Washington has been “appropriately bold and protective” of its interests.

Domestic abusers, felons and fugitives are prohibited from owning guns. But what happens if they try to buy a gun? In Oregon, the State Police investigate or alert local police. In Washington state no one follows up.

But that could soon change.

Outside the federal courthouse in downtown Seattle last Friday afternoon, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson suddenly found himself in the national spotlight after federal Judge James L. Robart had just imposed an immediate, nationwide halt to President Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees. As camera shutters clicked, Ferguson played David to Trump's Goliath.

"The law is a powerful thing," Ferguson said. "It has the ability to hold everybody accountable to it and that includes the president of the United States."

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