Austin Jenkins | KNKX

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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Following eight months of meetings, a workgroup on the prevention of sexual harassment in the Washington state House is recommending the formation of an independent office where victims could report misconduct.

Ted S. Warren / AP file

Following eight months of meetings, a workgroup on the prevention of sexual harassment in the Washington state House is recommending the formation of an independent office where victims could report misconduct, among other reforms.

In an on-air chat with All Things Considered host Ed Ronco, Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins said the full set of recommendations is robust.

Gov. Jay Inslee
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee’s possible presidential campaign is getting financial backing, with more than $112,000 raised since October. Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins talked about this story with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has raised more than $112,000 since October for a federal political action committee (PAC) that will allow him to explore a possible run for president in 2020, something the two-term Democrat said he's actively considering and will decide by April.

Aubrey Watkins has worked as an exotic dancer for 20 years, which has allowed her to raise three sons and pay for college tuition. 

moves toward possible presidential run with newly formed PAC
Ted S. Warren / AP

Gov. Jay Inslee has formed a political action committee, a strong signal that the two-term Washington governor is poised to run for the nation's highest office. KNKX Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins chats with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about his reporting, and the implications of the latest development. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has formed a federal political action committee and started soliciting contributions, signaling an important next step as he decides whether to run for president in 2020, the public radio Northwest News Network and The Seattle Times have learned.

A 2017 law that requires Washington gun dealers to report when someone tries to buy a firearm and fails a background check has resulted in at least 10 arrests and two convictions so far, according to a report by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).

Washington's child welfare system is failing to adequately serve foster youth with the most vexing needs, resulting in hotel stays and out-of-state placements, according to a new report by the state's Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman (OFCO).

A major provider of in-home care for developmentally disabled adults in Washington has announced it will cease operations in King County in the coming weeks because of a lack of affordable housing and challenges related to recruiting and retaining staff.

Election worker Diana Kaczor sorts ballots from security envelopes at the King County Elections office Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Renton, Wash.
Elaine Thompson / AP

As part of his weekly debrief with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick, KNKX Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins discussed the state’s closest races that are still unresolved weeks after the Nov. 6 election.

Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, who is blind and has faced vitriol online, is requesting funding in the next two-year state budget to hire security when he attends large, public events. The request is contained in an agency "decision package" submitted by Habib's office to the Office of Financial Management as part of the lead-up to the budget writing process.


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's busy out-of-state travel schedule has put a strain on the state troopers who protect him and resulted in a spike in overtime costs. As a result, the Washington State Patrol has requested an additional $1.3 million to protect the governor and first lady over the next two years.


Nearly 20 years after Washington voters passed Initiative 695, which repealed Washington's motor vehicle excise tax, anti-tax activist Tim Eyman said Wednesday that he's close to qualifying a new initiative to repeal taxes to support Sound Transit and restrict car tabs to $30. 


On the evening of September 30, Bernia Garner was working as a nurse on South Hall 7, a ward for non-criminal patients at Washington’s Western State Hospital.

It wasn't a sweeping blue wave, but Democrats were poised to pick up several seats in the Washington Legislature based on the first tally of ballots Tuesday evening as many of the most hotly contested races remained too close to call. 

Five months after the state of Washington shut down a major provider of in-home care for the developmentally disabled, the company that took over care for most of the clients has been given 90 days to correct its practices or face decertification of its King County operation based on "serious non-compliance with the law and regulations." 

Six years ago, Steven Gonzalez's last name likely cost him votes in his first race for the Washington Supreme Court. He won nonetheless.

Washington's Public Disclosure Commission said Monday it's received nine complaints about a series of controversial mailers that were sent to voters in Thurston County and four hotly contested state legislative districts from coastal Washington to Spokane.

Former Washington state Auditor Troy Kelley will remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction for possession of stolen funds, making false statements and filing false tax returns.

The state of Washington sent high-needs foster youth to a residential facility in Iowa where they were isolated, held in a restrictive setting and at times subject to “abusive restraint practices," according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the advocacy group Disability Rights Washington.

In statehouse races across Washington this year, there are two potential boogeymen: President Donald Trump and the city of Seattle. Democrats are counting on an anti-Trump bump while Republicans are running against the liberal policies of the state’s largest city.

A year ago this month, Carla Tolle’s 13-year-old grandson Edgar Vazquez was shot and killed by a friend while they played at the friend’s grandfather’s house in Kelso, Washington.

A Washington state senator who says he’s heard from “literally hundreds of parents” of adult children who are struggling with mental illness or addiction wants to allow families to petition for temporary guardianship.

Under pressure to step down following a new allegation of sexual misconduct, Republican state legislator Matt Manweller on Monday said that he would resign his seat if re-elected this November. 

House Republican leaders on Friday called on embattled state Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Cle-Elum) to resign. The move followed the publication of a story by the public radio Northwest News Network earlier in the day detailing an alleged sexual relationship between Manweller and a 17-year-old former high school student of his in 1997.

A former Idaho high school student of embattled Washington legislator and longtime educator Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Cle Elum) says she had a sexual relationship with him beginning after she graduated in 1997, when she was 17 years old and he was a decade her senior. Under Idaho state law at the time, sex between an adult male and a female younger than 18 constituted statutory rape.

As teachers in a record number of Washington school districts strike this week, a top official with their union says the unwillingness of superintendents and school boards to negotiate higher pay raises for teachers is a crime. 

"It's wage theft," said Stephen Miller, vice president of the Washington Education Association (WEA), Thursday in an interview on TVW's "Inside Olympia" program. "They are taking wages away from public employees."

On a recent evening in Vancouver, Washington, more than 80 people gathered at the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They were there for a forum organized by a fledging group of moms whose severely mentally ill children have struggled to get the help they need in Washington state — sometimes with deadly consequences.

“We are all part of a tribe that we have joined whether we wanted to or not,” mother Jerri Clark told the packed room.

Washington state Rep. Matt Manweller “engaged in a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior” with current and former female students at Central Washington University (CWU) over a 13-year period, according to an 85-page investigative report released by the university on Wednesday.

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