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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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee seems to have a new part-time job: foil to President Donald Trump. And it’s getting him lots of attention, including mentions on Facebook and in the national media.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants a new capital gains tax and carbon tax to comply with a court order to fully fund public schools. Republicans in the state Senate Friday instead proposed to solve the state’s school funding crisis by raising the state property tax while lowering local rates.

A conservative Republican state senator from northeast Washington has resigned his seat to take a job with the new Trump administration. Sen. Brian Dansel announced his resignation Tuesday leaving the Washington Senate in a temporary political tie.

When we think of kids getting suspended or expelled from school, we usually think of high schoolers. But it also happens to elementary school students -- even kindergartners. Monday parents begged a panel of Washington lawmakers to ban suspensions for the youngest students.

There’s a lot the Democratic governors of Washington and Oregon don’t want from President-elect Donald Trump. They’re miles apart on health care, immigration and trade. But it turns out each governor does have a wish list for the new administration.

The idea of giving workers paid time off to care for a new baby or an elderly parent has long been a priority of the left. But now the idea is gaining traction with some Republicans in the Washington Legislature.

Workers in Washington state are already eligible for up to 24 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave under state and federal law. A decade ago the Washington Legislature passed a paid family leave program, but never funded it. Now Washington Democrats and their labor allies are making a hard push to finally fund and expand that program.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was sworn in Wednesday for a second term. In his inaugural address to a joint session of the Washington Legislature, the Democrat said his top priority this year is to fully fund education.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Should it be easier to criminally charge police officers in Washington who use deadly force? A legislative task force says “yes”—but the vote was far from unanimous. Washington lawmakers are undecided on the issue as they convene Monday for their 2017 session.

Washington state lawmakers face a daunting task as they convene on Monday for the 2017 legislative session: how to fully fund public schools by 2018. And that job might have just gotten harder.

The face of Washington state government is about to get a makeover. Five new statewide elected officials will take office in January -- a record in modern times.

They may not change history. But four Washington electors made history Monday when they broke ranks and voted for alternative candidates for president and vice president. This hasn’t happened in Washington in 40 years.

Meanwhile, all seven of Oregon’s Electoral College votes went to Hillary Clinton. Clinton easily won each state’s popular vote last month.

The Washington State Patrol owns a small fleet of planes that state agencies and officials can charter. On the afternoon of Wednesday, June 8, two Washington state troopers piloted a twin engine King Air from Olympia to Vancouver, British Columbia.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee plans to propose significant new investments in education and mental health. The Democrat will roll out his priorities for Washington’s next two-year budget at a series of events beginning Tuesday.

Typically a survivor of domestic violence would never know if their abuser tried to buy a gun and was denied after a background check. But now a state lawmaker and a domestic violence survivor want to change that.

A sentencing calculation error that led to the early release of nearly 3,000 Washington prison inmates over more than a decade came to light one year ago this month. And Washington’s interim Secretary of Corrections has warned a similar mistake could happen again.

Washington’s only maximum security prison for women is overcrowded. That means some inmates are being housed at the Yakima County Jail. Now family members are calling on the Gov. Jay Inslee to halt those transfers.

In 2014, Washington’s Medicaid program resumed covering dental care for adults. That was celebrated by advocates for the poor. But on Thursday, a panel of lawmakers will hear about ongoing challenges to that program.

Washington jails are old, crowded and holding people who are disabled, mentally ill and often haven’t yet been convicted of a crime. County jails are often the first stop for people who enter the criminal justice system.

Disabled inmates are suffering from discrimination and isolation in Washington jails. That’s the finding of a report out Wednesday from Disability Rights Washington.

What happens when someone who’s not supposed to have a gun lies about their background and tries to buy one? In Washington state, the answer is not much.

FBI records show that between January and August of this year, 3,259 would-be gun buyers in Washington failed a federal background check. But police and prosecutors rarely, if ever, pursue these people.

Washington state Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, is being remembered as a social liberal who was a friend to rural Washington. Hill died last month after a recurrence of cancer. He was memorialized Monday on the Senate floor.

If there was a “Trump effect” in Washington state, it showed up in four mostly rural western Washington counties. Mason, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Cowlitz counties went for President Obama in 2012. But Donald Trump managed to flip them.

If the presidential race was a stunner, Washington state’s elections were not. Gov. Jay Inslee cruised to re-election as expected. And there were no upsets further down the ballot either.

Three incumbent Washington Supreme Court justices appear headed to easy re-election. Justices Mary Yu, Barbara Madsen and Charlie Wiggins are all leading their challengers by double digit margins.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee was cruising to re-election Tuesday night with 56 percent of the vote over Republican challenger Bill Bryant. But several other statewide races were still too close to call, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Washington prison inmates will no longer be called “offenders.” The Secretary of Corrections made that announcement in an all-staff message Tuesday.

First they called for her resignation. Now the Republican leaders of the Washington House and Senate are calling for the suspension of the director of the state’s campaign finance watchdog.

Negative ads work. That’s why political campaigns air them. But these days figuring out who’s funding them can be like unraveling a mystery. And to follow the money you have to unpack and keeping unpacking the PACS.

The lead budget writer in the Washington state Senate has died of lung cancer at age 54. Republican Andy Hill’s family announced his death Tuesday.

A new white paper by the Washington state attorney general’s office finds the state’s system of conducting background checks for gun purchases to be fragmented, complex and inconsistent.

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