Austin Jenkins

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 is the recipient of the 2016 Excellence in Journalism Award from the Washington State Association for Justice.

An allegation against Washington state Rep. David Sawyer of Tacoma has led House Democrats to restrict his contact with staff.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is reiterating his call for state lawmakers to pass a series of what he calls “common sense” gun control measures. The Democrat made his comments Wednesday in response to the Florida school shooting.

Washington House Democrats on Tuesday proposed nearly $1 billion in short-term property tax relief, followed by a longer-term tax cut funded by a new state capital gains tax on a minority of wealthier residents.

In recent years, Washington state has led the nation in locking up kids for running away, skipping school and other non-criminal behavior. Now state lawmakers are considering whether to ban juvenile detention for "status offenses".

The chief budget writer in the Washington state House of Representatives says it’s up to Democratic leaders whether he keeps his chairmanship following a rollover crash and his arrest for drunk driving last Saturday.

In a vote unprecedented in modern times in the state of Washington, the state Senate voted Wednesday to abolish the death penalty and instead impose life in prison without the possibility of parole for those convicted of aggravated first degree murder.

A fiery partisan battle has erupted in Olympia over a union-backed measure involving homecare workers. Underlying the fight is whether these workers should be able to opt out of their union.

The debate led to tense moments on the floor of the Washington Senate late Wednesday night.

Efforts to address sexual harassment in the Washington state Capitol have suffered a setback. Legislative leaders had pledged to improve the workplace climate following reports late last year that revealed a history of misconduct at the Capitol. But finding a solution has proven more difficult than expected.

This story has been updated.

A batch of late-arriving ballots is going out to nearly 7,000 Washington voters in advance of next Tuesday’s special election. That’s because of an error in the state’s Motor Voter system that allows people to register to vote when they get a drivers license.

Washington’s 60-day legislative session is approaching the halfway mark and majority Democrats are flexing their newfound one-party control of Olympia. That’s especially evident in the state Senate where several priority Democratic bills have been put on a fast track.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is calling on state lawmakers to “step up” and pass a carbon tax this year. The Democrat made his comments Tuesday as the midpoint of the legislative session approaches.

The Washington state Senate has passed a ban on trigger modification devices known as bump stocks that allow semi-automatic firearms to operate more like automatic weapons.

The vote Thursday evening came in response to last October’s mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and left hundreds more injured.

Washington Department and Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Unsworth is resigning next month after three years on the job. He presided over a tumultuous time at the department.

Victims of sexual harassment are urging Washington lawmakers to take steps to make the workplace safer. At a public hearing Wednesday, lawmakers heard personal stories and a rare acknowledgment of past failures.

A former top official at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been convicted of breaking into the home of a colleague and raping her. The verdict Wednesday follows a lengthy trial in a case that revealed a sexualized workplace culture at WDFW.

A 7.9 earthquake off the coast of Alaska triggered a tsunami watch that stretched from Washington to California early Tuesday morning. But many coastal residents slumbered right through it.

That’s because it was a watch—not a warning—which would have triggered outdoor sirens up and down the coast.

Momentum may be building to repeal the death penalty in Washington state. The Senate Law & Justice Committee is expected to pass a repeal measure—something that hasn’t happened in modern times. That follows an impassioned public hearing Monday.

The prosecutor of Washington’s most populous county is calling for the repeal of the death penalty. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg plans to testify Monday in favor of a proposal to replace capital punishment with life without the possibility of parole. 


A coalition of news outlets have won a partial victory in a public records lawsuit against the Washington Legislature. In a ruling Friday morning, a judge in Thurston County said lawmakers are subject to the state’s public disclosure law.

Communities and schools across Washington state are getting some welcome news. After a months-long delay, lawmakers Thursday night passed a $4.3 billion, two year state construction budget.

After a months-long standoff, legislative Democrats and Republicans say they’ve reached a bipartisan deal on a thorny water rights issue that will pave the way for quick passage of a $4.5 billion capital construction budget that’s been held up since last spring.

A ban on bump stocks has passed out of a Washington state Senate committee. But it faces an uncertain future.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants state lawmakers to declare the opioid epidemic a public health crisis.

On average, two people die each day in Washington from opioid overdoses. That includes deaths from prescription and synthetic opioids, as well as heroin.

Losing a child is a devastating loss. But imagine if that death is followed by a legal battle. That’s what happened after a Mukilteo teenage died in 2016.

Now her mom is trying to change state law.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is making another push for a state carbon tax. The Democrat unveiled his latest proposal Tuesday during his State of the State address.

Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen said he’s not taking a job with the Trump administration and plans to run for re-election.

The Washington Legislature convenes Monday for a 60-day election year session. For the first time since 2013, Democrats will have one-party control of the Capitol.

The top issues include: education funding, a carbon tax and passage of a state capital construction budget.

Early numbers on a new Washington state law designed to crack down on felons, domestic abusers and others who try to buy a gun show that since July, more than 1,200 would-be gun buyers have failed background checks.

The Washington Legislature is set to open it's 2018 session on Monday. The 50 State Project from CQ Roll Call asked Austin Jenkins to come up with the top five issues facing Washington lawmakers this session.

Here's his list:

The Republican leader in the Washington state House says he was sexually harassed at the Capitol more than a decade ago. Dan Kristiansen revealed his experience Thursday during a legislative preview event hosted by the Associated Press.

Pages