Austin Jenkins | KUOW News and Information

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.

A bipartisan effort to repeal the death penalty fell short in the Washington Legislature this year. But a separate effort to overturn the state's capital punishment statute through the courts is ongoing.

The constitutional challenge to the death penalty in Washington involves the case of Allen Eugene Gregory, 45, who was sentenced to die for the 1996 rape and murder of Geneine Harshfield in Tacoma.

The U.S. Surgeon General wants more Americans to carry the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

So how do you get it?

Amid warnings that Russian hackers may try to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections, top election officials in the Northwest say they are taking additional steps to protect voting systems from attack.

Despite numerous requests for a veto, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed a controversial bill to privatize the state’s homecare provider system. The Democrat’s signing of the measure followed a contentious fight in the Legislature and accusations that it amounted to a power grab by the Service Employees International Union.

The Democratic attorneys general of Washington and Oregon joined 35 of their colleagues Monday in sending a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The letter demands answers to several questions about Facebook’s privacy policies.

Former Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is seeking to have his conviction for possession of stolen money overturned or, alternatively, granted a new trial.

Three years ago, Betsy Deane's son was killed in an automobile accident. Now, the Pasco, Washington, grandmother hopes a new state law will allow her to reunite with the granddaughter she hasn’t been able to see since.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed into law several measures aimed at addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. They include a prohibition on non-disclosure agreements that silence victims of harassment or assault.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law four bills aimed at expanding access to voting. They include a new state Voting Rights Act.

Sixteen and 17-year-olds will soon be able to pre-register to vote in Washington. That’s just one of several voting-related bills the governor is scheduled to sign into law Monday.

Washington Employment Security Department Commissioner Dale ​Peinecke is resigning following a workplace investigation into allegations he behaved inappropriately toward women on his staff.

Several efforts to protect sexual assault victims failed to pass in Washington’s 60-day legislative session which adjourned last Thursday. Now lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are expressing frustration.

Shortly after the final gavels fell Thursday night on Washington’s 2018 legislative session, Gov. Jay Inslee stepped before a smattering of reporters and cameras gathered in his conference room and touted “a long list of accomplishments” over the 60 day session.

UPDATE: Washington state lawmakers adjourned Thursday night after a short, 60-day election year session during which Democrats flexed their new one-party control to pass a slew of legislation. Here’s a look at some of the bills that passed and some that didn’t.  (Note: some of these bills have already been signed into law by the governor, others await his signature.) 

Washington homeowners would get some property tax relief in 2019 under a bill that passed the Democratically-controlled Washington state Senate on Wednesday evening over Republican objections. The bill is part of a final budget deal reached with the House as the Legislature heads toward a scheduled adjournment on Thursday. 



An initiative backed by families of people who’ve been shot by police may not appear on Washington’s November ballot after all. That’s because sponsors of Initiative 940 and police groups have agreed on a new good faith standard for the use of deadly force.

As the Washington Legislature enters its final week, a deal may be coming together to change the state’s law regarding police use of deadly force. Back-to-back public hearings on a new bill have been hastily scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in the House and Senate.

A new Washington state law designed to crack down on felons, domestic abusers and others who lie and try to buy a gun is already resulting in prosecutions.

In the face of intense pressure from the public and media, and following hours of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee late Thursday  vetoed a bill that exempts the Legislature from the state’s voter-approved Public Disclosure Act. 

Will he or won’t he? That’s the question as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee faces immense pressure to veto a bill that exempts the Legislature from the state’s Public Records Act. Inslee has until midnight Thursday to decide.

The issue has galvanized the public. As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Inslee’s office said it had received more than 8,000 emails and over 4,000 calls. The governor’s staff called the volume “unprecedented.”

The Washington Legislature has sent a ban on bump stocks to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. A bump stock is a trigger modification device that make a semi-automatic rifle function more like an automatic weapon.

As a politician, Washington state Rep. David Sawyer of Tacoma says he’s in the business of getting to know people and networking. As a 34-year-old unmarried man, the Democrat says he sometimes tries to date within political circles because those are people who understand his life best.

In the space of 20 minutes Friday, Washington lawmakers voted to exempt themselves from the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act. The Senate first passed the bill and then sent it to the House where it was immediately taken up.

Washington lawmakers are fast-tracking a bill to exempt themselves from the state’s voter-approved Public Records Act. The move comes after the Legislature lost a public records lawsuit filed by several news outlets, including public radio. That lawsuit is now on appeal. 

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.

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