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. 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.

It’s back to school time. It was also back to court Wednesday for lawyers in an ongoing school funding lawsuit in Washington state.

Alan Copsey, center, a deputy attorney general for the state of Washington, speaks during a hearing before the Washington State Supreme Court regarding a lawsuit against the state over education funding, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Olympia, Wash.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Kim Malcolm talks with Olympia correspondent Austin Jenkins about this week's state Supreme Court hearing over funding public education in Washington.

Just as the school year begins, the Washington state Supreme Court will get an update Wednesday on school funding efforts in the state legislature. Tuesday, a panel of lawmakers got an earful.

The ongoing fight over school funding in Washington state is heading back to court. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday before the Washington Supreme Court.

Lobbyists are paid to try to influence legislation. One way they build relationships with lawmakers is by hosting political fundraisers. And that’s happening a lot this election season with lobbyists for business, labor and other interests.

Washington Republicans say the way state employees collectively bargain pay and benefits is not transparent and presents a conflict of interest.

Unionized Washington state employees want a pay raise. They plan to rally Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The company involved in a data breach involving Northwest fish and game licenses is a vendor the state of Washington has been trying to part ways with for years.

Online fishing and hunting license sales have now been suspended in Washington, Oregon and Idaho following a hacking incident. A Washington state official says some 7 million records across the three states were compromised, but the information was not terribly sensitive.

Anglers can fish for free and without a license in Washington waters through next Tuesday. That announcement from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Thursday comes as the sale of all hunting and fishing licenses is temporarily suspended because of a cybersecurity breach. The Department said some personal information was accessed because of a vulnerability involving an outside vendor. Online license sales in Oregon and Idaho are also temporarily suspended. 

Lawyers for victims of the deadly 2014 Oso landslide say the state of Washington has engaged in a “shocking” cover-up to hide evidence. The allegation, first reported by The Seattle Times, comes just five weeks before the state goes on trial.

Unionized teachers and Realtors boast the largest political action committees in Washington state this election year. Both PACs have raised more than $2 million.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he’s disappointed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration's decision not to reclassify marijuana. In a letter Thursday, the DEA said marijuana will remain a Schedule I drug for now.

It’s been 18 years since Republicans last controlled both chambers of the Washington legislature. They’re hoping 2016 is the year they can reclaim the majority. But that will require holding on to their narrow grip on the state Senate and flipping the Washington House -- something Democrats are determined not to let happen.

Washington Republicans are working hard this election cycle to hold onto their slim majority in the state Senate. And they’re getting some help from a new political action committee set up by the debt collection industry.