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TJ Martinell

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TJ Martinell is a native Washingtonian and award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Bellevue, he’s been involved in the news industry since working at his high school newspaper. His investigative reporting for various community newspapers in the Puget Sound region has been recognized by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists. A graduate of Eastern Washington University, he has a B.A. in journalism and was the news editor of EWU’s student university newspaper.
Stakeholders warn against GMA amendments, “tone deaf” reform process

Stakeholders warn against GMA amendments, “tone deaf” reform process

For years, a variety of stakeholders including builders, housing organizations, and local government advocates have emphasized the need for changes to the state Growth...
Cybersecurity for the 2021 legislative session

Cybersecurity for the 2021 legislative session

Plans to convene the 2021 legislation session remotely raise not only issues regarding transparency and government accountability but also the risks of hacking and...
Work remains for fish culvert repair strategy

Work remains for fish culvert repair strategy

An ongoing legal issue for state legislators is the replacement of more than 400 fish culverts on land managed primarily by the Washington State...
Questions linger over Interstate Bridge cost

Questions linger over Interstate Bridge cost

Among the many questions yet to be answered regarding an Interstate Bridge replacement is how much the project will cost, to what extent it...
Grocers grapple with shopper’ frustration over restrictions

Grocers grapple with shopper frustration over restrictions

Although independent grocers have been deemed essential and allowed to remain open throughout Governor Jay Inslee’s statewide restrictions that have been in place for...
State revenue remains historically high amid shutdown

State revenue remains historically high amid shutdown

While many Washington businesses struggle to remain financially afloat amid newly imposed restrictions by Governor Jay Inslee, the state is still expected to receive...
Transparency, civic engagement, logistics considerations as Legislature goes virtual

Transparency, civic engagement, logistics considerations as Legislature goes virtual

For the first time in history, Washington’s legislative session will convene remotely via virtual meetings, with the potential to significantly affect not only how...
“Chilling effect”: Eviction moratorium strains small landlords

“Chilling effect”: Eviction moratorium strains small landlords

As Governor Jay Inslee contemplates possible changes to his eviction moratorium amid a legal challenge to it, some property rights advocates warn that the...
Fish habitat buffer rule unlikely for 2021

Fish habitat buffer rule unlikely for 2021

For almost 20 years the state has used an interim rule created after the 1999 Forests and Fish Law to establish fish habitat buffers...
Organizations see opportunity with virtual conferences

Organizations see opportunity with virtual conferences

Although the concept of online meetings and conferences isn’t new, the COVID-19 restrictions imposed in Washington since late March have forced state organizations and...
Avoiding Columbia River Crossing 2.0

Avoiding Columbia River Crossing 2.0

Of primary concern among stakeholders involved in the preliminary discussions on replacing the Interstate Bridge across the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon is...
Capital gains tax, LCFS within reach next session

Capital gains tax, LCFS within reach next session

Democrat lawmakers and Governor Jay Inslee for years have sought to enact a variety of tax and regulatory proposals that have failed due to...
Washington’s mixed economy recovery

Washington’s mixed economy recovery

Washington’s economy continues to recover from historically high unemployment and revenue decreases earlier this year, though that recovery is inconsistent across industry sectors. The...
Landlords sue over eviction ban

Landlords sue over eviction ban

Under Governor Jay Inslee’s eviction moratorium that was extended last month through the remainder of 2020, landlords are prohibited from evicting tenants for failure...
Work group examines feasibility of universal health care

Work group examines feasibility of universal health care

The state Health Care Exchange last month approved new “Cascade Care” health plans under a state law approved last year that sought to address...
Aerospace stakeholders contemplate path to recovery

Aerospace stakeholders contemplate path to recovery

Washington state’s aerospace industry has certainly seen better years than 2020. In addition to the economic shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic all...
New WPC study challenges Cascadia high-speed rail feasibility

New WPC study challenges Cascadia high-speed rail feasibility

Proponents of a proposed public-private partnership (P3) Cascadia high-speed rail line from Vancouver, B.C. to Portland, Ore. contend that the project could improve regional...
Commission may push for small airport loan extension

Commission may push for small airport loan extension

The state Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC) created by the state legislature in 2019 is tasked with developing a plan to meet Washington’s freight...
The economic shutdown and transportation revenue

The economic shutdown and transportation revenue

Prior to its defeat via a State Supreme Court decision, Initiative 976 would have reduced Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) revenue by $421...
How GMA could help – or hurt – housing crisis

How GMA could help – or hurt – housing crisis

After decades of planning under the state Growth Management Act (GMA), a significant number of builders, housing advocates, and state lawmakers believe the law...
Amid pandemic, analysts see opportunity for greater school choice

Amid pandemic, analysts see opportunity for greater school choice

Eight years after the State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision and subsequent billions in new tax revenue poured into the K-12 system by the state...
Historic Seattle rail bridge will remain, with repairs

Historic Seattle rail bridge will remain, with repairs

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) has announced it will repair the Salmon Bay Rail Bridge near the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle’s Ballard...
I-976 struck down as panel mulls new transportation taxes

I-976 struck down as panel mulls new transportation taxes

The release of the Washington State Supreme Court decision striking down Initiative 976 that was approved by voters last November seems appropriately timed –...
Unemployment tax hike will harm already struggling businesses

Unemployment tax hike will harm already struggling businesses

After a year of historic layoffs and unemployment claims that threatened to bankrupt the state Unemployment Trust Fund, businesses that managed to survive could...
K-12 funding and taxes: how much is enough?

K-12 funding and taxes: how much is enough?

Even though the state legislature has poured billions into the K-12 education system since the 2013-15 biennium following a 2012 State Supreme Court ruling,...
Work group may favor “gradual” approach to single-payer health care

Work group may favor “gradual” approach to single-payer health care

The state Universal Health Care Work Group is working on a new report update for the state legislature outlining end goals to pursue, ultimately...
PSE announces small biz energy contest

PSE announces small biz energy contest

With half of Washington’s workforce employed by small businesses, the survival of those employers at a time of high unemployment has become a heightened...
COVID-19 and the role of telehealth

COVID-19 and the role of telehealth

The state legislature since 2015 has explored the concept of telemedicine – i part to improve healthcare access for rural communities. With the onset...
Reassessing transit for Interstate Bridge replacement

Reassessing transit for Interstate Bridge replacement

Disagreement among Washington and Oregon stakeholders regarding the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) in 2013 put a long pause on – then the Washington state...
Tourism industry could take years to recover from shutdown

Tourism industry could take years to recover from shutdown

Washington’s tourism industry continues to struggle amid the state’s economic shutdown in response to COVID-19, with the effects felt in both urban and rural...
Whatcom County may restart Cherry Point regulatory work

Whatcom County may restart Cherry Point regulatory work

For more than four years the Whatcom County Council has explored reregulating the Cherry Point industrial area, already one of the most regulated and...
Transparency, civic engagement, logistics considerations as Legislature goes virtual

Implications for public safety, business community in 5th District Senate race

Discussions in recent months regarding law enforcement funding have also highlighted the role public safety professionals play in fostering and protecting a healthy business...
Housing as “critical infrastructure”

Housing as “critical infrastructure”

The state Growth Management Act (GMA) remains a primary focus for stakeholders who are trying to address Washington state’s housing shortage and lack of...
What has new basic education spending achieved?

What has new basic education spending achieved?

Although the latest update from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) shows a 20 percent jump in revenue compared to the June...
Will future RUC revenue be protected?

Will future RUC revenue be protected?

The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) for eight years has studied the concept of a road usage charge (RUC) in which drivers pay a...
Private ferry route may replace WSDOT service

Private ferry route may replace WSDOT service

While King County looks at ferry service across Lake Washington, the state Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) is exploring the idea of a private ferry...
“Uphill” battle remains for single-payer healthcare work

“Uphill” battle remains for single-payer healthcare work

For more than a year a state work group has explored the idea of a universal healthcare system in Washington state with forthcoming recommendations...
Planned forest health work unaffected by wildfires – for now

Planned forest health work unaffected by wildfires – for now

The 2020 wildfire season has quickly escalated from one of the mildest in the past decade to one of the most severe, with more...
Defining “public use” for broadband

Defining “public use” for broadband

The legislature last year enacted a law creating the State Broadband Office (SBO) within the state Department of Commerce to expand access to all...
Analyst says healthcare system “at crossroads”

Analyst says healthcare system “at crossroads”

Within the debate over healthcare reform in the U.S. are conflicting philosophies regarding how the system should operate and who ultimately should make health...
Wildfire season takes “fast and furious” turn

Wildfire season takes “fast and furious” turn

Washington state’s wildfire season dramatically intensified this past weekend with more than 20 times the number of acres burned in the past week than...
Washington’s budget woes

Washington’s budget woes

State lawmakers since May have been calling for a special session to address a significant operating budget revenue shortfall for the current biennium. Framing...
PSE signs agreement for new Oregon wind farm

PSE signs agreement for new Oregon wind farm

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has signed a new agreement with Portland-based Avangrid Renewables to build a 28,000 acre wind farm in north central Oregon...
King County GHG goal, policy “disconnect”

King County GHG goal, policy “disconnect”

A criticism often leveled against government environmental efforts is the disconnect between climate goals and what is actually achieved. Washington state and local governments...
Is increased DNR wildfire funding paying off?

Is increased DNR wildfire funding paying off?

This year’s wildfire season is on track to be one of the mildest in decades, though state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials say...
The politics of transportation revenue

The politics of transportation revenue

The Statewide Transportation Needs Assessment Advisory Panel is looking at potential new taxes or fees to aid an underfunded system throughout Washington state, and...
GMA’s top-down approach to housing could intensify

GMA’s top-down approach to housing could intensify

Since the early 1990s the state Growth Management Act (GMA) has directed regional and local zoning policy regarding economic development and housing to prevent...
Seattle’s spending priorities matter to businesses large and small

Seattle’s spending priorities matter to businesses large and small

The Seattle City Council last month passed a new payroll tax intended to help plug shortfalls in the city budget, and there’s a strong...
Restoring the legislature’s role during pandemic

Restoring the legislature’s role during pandemic

Despite a $4.5 billion shortfall for the current state operating budget, a $9 billion revenue gap through the next biennium and a current cash...
Former Washington Senator Slade Gorton dies, age 92

Former Washington Senator Slade Gorton dies, age 92

Former state legislator and U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton died Aug. 19 at the age of 92 after a brief illness. As State Attorney General,...
New legal precedent set for public pension policy

New legal precedent set for public pension policy

The Washington Pension Funding Council recently voted to maintain a 7.5 percent assumed rate of growth for pension investments to ease financial pressure on...

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