Authors Posts by TJ Martinell

TJ Martinell

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TJ Martinell has five-plus years of news reporting experience, and has worked as an SEO specialist. He is a graduate of Eastern Washington University.

Regulatory Fairness Bill Could Have Legs

Prospects could be better than average for a bipartisan House bill meant to ensure state agencies fully comply with the Regulatory Fairness Act (RFA). That law aims to protect employers from excessive...
Reykdal Pushes For Better K-12 Results

Reykdal Pushes For Better K-12 Results

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal may prove a force to be reckoned with, as state lawmakers look to address funding inequities -...
State Pension Fund Merger Gains Eyed

State Pension Fund Merger Gains Eyed

Merging two of Washington State’s eight public employee pension systems could save taxpayers almost $2 billion over the next 25 years, without reducing pension...
Transportation Funding Questions Persist

Transportation Funding Questions Persist

Adequately maintaining and growing Washington's transportation infrastructure isn't cheap, and in Central Puget Sound alone, a million more residents are due by 2040. A...
State House Leaders Seek Middle Ground

State House Leaders Seek Middle Ground

Governor Jay Inslee wasn't the only one sounding off on the state of the state last week. The first day of the legislative session,...
Fixing School Siting: Round Two

Fixing School Siting: Round Two

Washington state lawmakers are again trying to help overcrowded school districts serve students with new facilities, which in some cases would have to be built...
The State Of The State? Deeply Conflicted

The State Of The State? Deeply Conflicted

In his January 11 State of the State speech, Governor Jay Inslee called for compromise between divided state legislative chambers in order to fully fund basic education. However, Inslee's hope of...
Inslee's Carbon Tax Seen As 'Job Killer'

Inslee’s Carbon Tax Seen As ‘Job Killer’

A key piece of Governor Jay Inslee’s 2017-19 biennial budget proposal is a $25 per metric ton carbon tax on the production and consumption of fossil...
K-12 Task Force Stuck, But It's Early Innings

K-12 Task Force Stuck, But It’s Early Innings

As the 2017 biennial budget session of the Washington legislature opened Monday, January 9, all eyes were on the Joint Education Funding Task Force. Under a law passed in 2016, it...
State Parks Seals Public-Private Deal

State Parks Seals Public-Private Deal

A proposed 62-year lease of the Saint Edward State Park seminary building in Kenmore, by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (WSPRC) to Seattle-based Daniels Real Estate...
Keeping Traffic, Freight And The Economy Moving In Washington: It Won't Be Cheap

Keeping Traffic, Freight And The Economy Moving In Washington: It Won’t Be Cheap

President-elect Donald Trump has proposed a $1 trillion national infrastructure investment plan over the next decade. While that might sound “yuge,” it is less...
Fortunato To Fill State Senate Vacancy

Fortunato To Fill State Senate Vacancy

The Pierce and King County councils on Saturday, January 7 approved the appointment of newly-elected State Rep. Phil Fortunato (R-31) to the district's Senate seat...
Agencies Weak On Probing Rules' Costs

Agencies Weak On Probing Rules’ Costs

State agencies have frequently ignored the financial impacts of proposed regulations on small businesses, in violation of state law. That was the big take-away...
Early Battle Lines Drawn On School Funding

Early Battle Lines Drawn On School Funding

Comments by State Sen. John Braun (R-20) at a recent Education Funding Task Force meeting suggest a possible push for evidence-based decision-making to ensure Washington's...

Lawmakers: Inslee’s New Taxes Won’t Fly

Washington state's major employers and several key lawmakers are warning that $4.4 billion in new taxes under Governor Jay Inslee’s 2017-19 budget would threaten Washington's economic recovery. If approved as...

Housing Affordability And Traffic Collide

Despite often fierce reactions to express toll lanes installed in 2015 on I-405's northern portion, recent state data show most toll lane and general-purpose lane drivers on the...
Freight Infrastructure Fixes Needed Sooner, Say Washington State Stakeholders

Freight Infrastructure Fixes Needed Sooner, Say Washington State Stakeholders

A planned fix to one of metro Puget Sound's most glaring truck freight bottlenecks is taking too long to unfold and needs implementation sooner,...
State Budget Deficit Estimates Jump Higher

State Budget Deficit Estimates Jump Higher

The budget stakes have risen for Washington lawmakers. A report last week from the Office of Program Research states the expected budget deficit for the 2017-19 biennium will now be almost $1.5...
Lower Snake River Dams At Storm's Eye

Lower Snake River Dams At Storm’s Eye

Three federal agencies are preparing a new environmental impact statement (EIS) intended to protect threatened salmon and steelhead, and it could result in a recommendation to breach, or decommission, the four...
EPA Mandate On Washington State Water Quality Faces Possible Challenges

EPA Mandate On Washington State Water Quality Faces Possible Challenges

It would cost about $7.4 billion total for every city in the Puget Sound region to upgrade their wastewater treatment plants to the best available technology, according to a projection by...

Stage Set For Two State Budget Battles

The Washington legislature already faces a projected $2.6 billion deficit for the 2019-21 biennial budget, as it digs in this coming January to fashion...
Fresh Start Eyed On Bi-State Bridge Fix

Fresh Start Eyed On Bi-State Bridge Fix

The proposal for a new bi-state bridge connecting Washington and Oregon went down in flames of acrimony two years ago. The Columbia River Crossing...

Bottom-Up Rumblings On Washington Taxes

Turning heads statewide recently was the unanimous decision by the seven-member City of Spokane Valley to enact a new hurdle for that body to...

Making K-12 Investments Count, In Washington

Washington has pumped $5 billion more into K-12 basic education since the State Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary ruling mandated that lawmakers step up. The state's biennial K-12 operating funding has grown from $13.4 billion to...
Free Markets Versus Intervention: Murray, Vance Square Off In First Debate

Free Markets Versus Intervention: Murray, Vance Square Off In First Debate

In a debate hosted by Gonzaga University this week, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) and Republican challenger Chris Vance promoted distinct visions of how to grow...
Tax-Happy Washington State Supreme Court Called Out On K-12 Education Funding

Tax-Happy Washington State Supreme Court Called Out On K-12 Education Funding

State Rep. Matt Manweller (R-13) is reading the tea leaves on court-mandated hikes in the state's share of K-12 basic education funding, and he’s...
Will Washington Reign In Rule-makers?

Will Washington Rein In Rule-makers?

Lawmakers come and go, but unelected rule-makers are forever. Or so it seems. Decisions and actions of agencies and regulatory bodies in Washington state...
Bryant, Inslee Differ On Education, Taxes, and Carbon Cap Rule

Bryant, Inslee Differ On Education, Taxes, and Carbon Cap Rule

In a debate hosted by Seattle University this week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Bill Bryant outlined disparate visions for the...
Franz Shifts Message On State Timber Sales

Franz Shifts On State Timber Sales

In a debate hosted by the Association of Washington Business at Suncadia last week between the general election contestants for Washington Public Land Commissioner, Democrat...
A Fresh Start For Washington's Watchdog

A Fresh Start For Washington’s Watchdog

Whoever is elected, the troubled State Auditor’s Office (SAO) will get a fresh start in 2017. The two candidates to take over the embattled...

Washington Exporters Renew Push To Expand Global Trade, Via TPP

Prospects for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S. and 11 other nations remain uncertain. According to The Hill, Congress is unlikely to consider...

Public Pension Reform: A Work In Progress

Washington has eight public pension systems for employees of state and local governments, and 15 plans within those systems. According to the latest numbers...

Different Visions For Public Lands Chief

As head of the Washington state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Public Lands Commissioner oversees 2.1 million acres of forested state trust lands....
Getting A Leg Up On Income Inequality

Getting A Leg Up On Income Inequality

A key aim of Initiative 1433 to raise the Washington state minimum wage, and a theme accentuated by Governor Jay Inslee in his 2016...
New Approach To Wildfires Brewing

New Approach To Wildfires Brewing

Despite a state of emergency declared in response to recent Washington wildfires, the season so far has been much kinder than the last two,...
A Fishy Standard For Washington State Water Quality, But It Could Be Even Worse

A Fishy Standard For Washington State Water Quality, But It Could Be Even Worse

The Washington Department of Ecology last week approved new state fish consumption and water quality standards that critics say are too onerous and based on...
Two GOP Finalists For Treasurer Differ On Approaches To State's $20.6B Debt

Two GOP Finalists For Treasurer Differ On Approaches To State’s $20.6B Debt

According to a report this year by outgoing State Treasurer James McIntire, Washington had $20.6 billion in debt at the end of December, 2015,...
I-405 Tolling Performance Strong, But Regional Growth Raises Capacity Concerns

I-405 Tolling Gets High Marks Again; More Lanes Are Eyed To Handle Growth

Drivers on I-405 east of Seattle are getting to their destinations faster nine months after a new express lane tolling system was added. However,...
Washington Should Steer Lightly As Driverless Cars Inch Toward Mainstream

Washington Should Steer Lightly As Driverless Cars Inch Toward Mainstream

Like other states, Washington will be confronted with a big question in coming years: how its surface transportation infrastructure will be transformed by driverless...
Pierce Schools Take Aim At Growth Rule

Pierce Schools Take Aim At Growth Rule

Five school districts have filed a lawsuit against Pierce County to get around a state Growth Management Hearings Board ruling. They say it deprives...
Heading For A Cage Match On Local Control Of Teacher Salaries

Heading For A Cage Match On Local Control Of Teacher Salaries

Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn has filed a lawsuit he hopes will spur the legislature to assume financial responsibility for basic...
Debt Hawks, Income Tax Advocate, Others Vie For Washington State Treasurer

Debt Hawks, Income Tax Advocate, Others Vie For Washington State Treasurer

In Washington, state debt is $20.6 billion. As of January, it had grown just three percent over the last two years but a year before,...
Wildfires Can Also Scorch Tourism, But Washington Communities Are Battling Back

Wildfires Can Also Scorch Tourism, But Washington Communities Are Battling Back

Damage to homes and communities from Washington wildfires in 2014 and 2015 has been dramatic. Along with rebuilding lives and buildings, reclaiming scorched land,...
Senate Ups Ante On Combating Forest Fires

Senate Ups Ante On Combating Forest Fires

Washington’s private forest landowners want healthier federal forest lands to help confront the growing severity of wildfire seasons. A quarter of the 8.1 million...
Salmon Fishing Season Delay Takes An Economic Toll In Puget Sound Region

Salmon Fishing Season Delay Takes An Economic Toll In Puget Sound Region

Puget Sound’s recreational salmon fishing season is expected to open at the end of this week, after a nearly two-month delay caused by a...
Sound Transit 3 Changes Spark New Debate

Sound Transit 3 Changes Spark New Debate

The Sound Transit Board has unanimously approved revisions to its proposed ST3 expansion plan, shortening construction timelines for several light rail projects based on...
More Logging In Washington State Could Help Restore Forest Health, Say Experts

More Logging In Washington State Could Help Restore Forest Health, Say Experts

Increased timber harvesting is one way the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and United States Forest Service might improve forest health after two...
Who Do You Trust To Run Elections?

Who Do You Trust To Run Elections?

The race for a seemingly sleepy office in Washington state is threatening to turn into a war of words, and has drawn the interest...
Puget Sound Fishing Dispute May Be Settled For Now, But Concerns Linger

Puget Sound Fishing Dispute May Be Settled For Now, But Concerns Linger

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and local tribal leaders have reached an agreement on how they will share the salmon harvest...

Cities, Counties Want Fine-Tuned Rules For Legal Pot Shops And Grow Ops

Persistent community concerns across Washington about recreational marijuana stores and growers may help drive changes to existing state and local regulations. One state lawmaker...
Towns Rebuilding After Wildfires, As State Mulls Prevention, Preparedness

Towns Rebuilding After Wildfires; State Aims To Improve Prevention, Response

In 2014 the Carlton Complex wildfire burned 150 homes in and around the city of Pateros in Okanogan County. The largest wildfire in state...
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