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. 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.

Ways to Connect

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee says in the days to come he will be listening for ideas on how to prevent the kind of school violence that occurred in Connecticut Friday. Inslee did not indicate if that would include gun control proposals.

Mike Donlin heads Washington’s School Safety Center. He says all Washington schools now have safety plans -- but normally a visit by the adult child of a teacher would not trigger alarm.

The White House

OLYMPIA, Wash. – President Obama’s first comments about marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado leave more questions than answers. The President tells ABC News that federal agents have “bigger fish to fry” than recreational pot users.

In the interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters, President Obama says about marijuana enforcement: “It would not make sense for us [to go] after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”

Office of the Governor

OLYMPIA, Wash. – When Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee is sworn in this January he’ll get more than just the keys to the office. Outgoing Governor Chris Gregoire plans to leave behind a book for future governors to consult when it starts feeling lonely at the top.

In the midst of the Great Recession, Gregoire went in search of wisdom from past governors. Her chief of staff Marty Loesch says Gregoire consulted the state archives.

“And found there’s just precious little there to provide guidance to somebody like her who was facing those kinds of challenges,“ Loesch says.

Wikimedia

Washington Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) will “have to learn” to negotiate. That tough talk comes from former Republican Governor Dan Evans in reaction to the announcement that a philosophical majority of Republicans and two Democrats have formed to take control of the state Senate for the 2013 session.

Washington Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Some Washington Democrats are reacting angrily to a power grab in the state senate. A coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats announced Monday they will seize the majority, but share power.

The chair of the Washington State Democratic Party says Senators Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon are turning their backs on their own party. The two Democrats say they will join forces with Republicans to govern the chamber from the middle.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A big shake-up in the control of the Washington state senate could have major implications for how lawmakers address funding for schools next year. A coalition of Republicans and two breakaway Democrats announced Monday it has just enough votes to depose the current Democratic majority.

The chair of the Washington Democratic party calls it a “coup” and a “prescription for instability and division.” But former Republican turned Democrat Rodney Tom -- who will lead the new majority coalition -- says voters want governing from the middle.

Austin Jenkins

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A coalition of Republicans and two renegade Democrats have announced a plan to seize control of the Washington state senate. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington is currently a Democratic one party rule state. But that could change this week. A possible challenge to the Democrats' tenuous control of the Washington state senate could emerge. Senate Republicans have called a news conference Monday morning at the Capitol. A bipartisan group of senators is expected make an announcement regarding the leadership of the state’s upper chamber. All it would take is two Democratic senators to join with Republicans to create a philosophical majority.

Washington Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. –Washington’s newly elected governor, attorney general and secretary of state are busy hiring staff, announcing transition teams and setting up shop in the Capitol. But newly elected Washington state Auditor Troy Kelley hasn’t been seen much.

Kelley is a Democratic State Representative who was elected to replace outgoing auditor Brian Sonntag who’s held the office for 20 years. Sonntag says he met Kelley for coffee after the election.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. and KENNEWICK, Wash. – In Washington’s capital city, the county auditor was also prepared for a rush of marriage-license applicants. Instead, it felt like business as usual. Just one couple got showed up.

Deborah Dulaney and Diane McGee dressed warmly and brought an umbrella. They figured they’d be waiting out in the rain to get a wedding license on day one.

“Then we just walk right in," Diane says. "It was nice, but I’m kind of disappointed. I wanted to party.”

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