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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.
Effort underway to restore previous real estate excise tax rate

Effort underway to restore previous real estate excise tax rate

The state legislature last year restructured the state real estate excise tax (REET) from a flat 1.28 percent rate to a graduated rate, with...
Road user charge bill introduced

Road user charge bill introduced

A trio of Senate Democrats have introduced a bill creating an initial road user charge (RUC) program for electric and hybrid vehicles to begin...
Voter restriction bill set for committee vote

Voter restriction bill set for committee vote

A House committee may advance a bill that bars votes on initiatives and referendums during odd-numbered years. The arguments for HB 2529 introduced by...
Property rights v. “public interest”

Property rights v. “public interest”

State lawmakers have introduced SB 6301 that would allow the state Department of Ecology the authority to decide if a water rights transfer is...
Bill to reduce driving would hamper economic growth, stakeholders warn

Bill to reduce driving would hamper economic growth, stakeholders warn

A Senate bill aims to reduce the amount of miles Washingtonians drive through amendments to the state Growth Management Act (GMA). SB 6335 introduced...
Possible changes in store for clean energy law

Possible changes in store for clean energy law

The state legislature last year enacted the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) mandating that utilities achieve 100 percent carbon neutral energy by 2035 and...
Legal fight over public union membership continues

Legal fight over public union membership continues

Since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court Janus decision ruling that public employees cannot be compelled to pay union dues, the Washington state legislature has...
Lawmakers propose to limit elections?

Lawmakers propose to limit elections

Washington voters in November approved Initiative 976 by 53 percent, capping car tabs at $30 and significantly reducing state transportation revenue. Some state lawmakers...
Bipartisan bill would affirm local income tax ban

Bipartisan bill would affirm local income tax ban

The Washington Court of Appeals ruled last year that a 1984 state law prohibiting local governments from imposing income taxes was unconstitutional. Now, a...
Senate approves USMCA

Senate approves USMCA

This week the U.S. Senate voted to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). For...
LCFS, round three

LCFS, round three

Though state lawmakers for the past two years have unsuccessfully tried to enact a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) in an effort to reduce...
Hazardous Waste Tax revenue spike expected after rate hike

Hazardous Waste Tax revenue spike expected after rate hike

Last year, the state legislature approved a rate hike for the Hazardous Substance Tax (HST) that funds toxic site cleanup, among other things. As...
December REET revenue doubles from last year

December REET revenue doubles from last year

According to data from the state Department of Revenue (DOR), the month before the state’s new law restructuring the real estate excise tax (REET)...
High court invalidates parts of clean air rule

High court invalidates parts of Clean Air rule

The Washington State Supreme Court in a Jan. 16 ruling has invalidated parts of the state Department of Ecology’s Clean Air Rule authorized by...
Bill allows preemptive state mobilization for wildfires

Bill allows preemptive state mobilization for wildfires

Washington’s state mobilization plan allows the use of state resources to suppress a wildfire when a blaze goes beyond the capacities of the local...
Bill aims to mitigate water drought

Bill aims to mitigate water drought

Washington state officials declared a water drought in 27 watersheds last year, prompting the Joint Committee on Water Supply During Drought to explore ways the...
Inslee pushes for LCFS, homelessness funding

Inslee pushes for LCFS, homelessness program funding

Governor Jay Inslee’s Jan. 14 State of the State speech focused primarily on a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) proposal that in past session...
Inslee’s budget delays highway projects

Inslee’s budget delays highway projects

With the passage of Initiative 976 by voters during the Nov. 5 election, state lawmakers must now find places to reduce funding in the...
Study highlights Washington’s housing shortage

Study highlights Washington’s housing shortage

When it comes to housing affordability in Washington state, building advocates have sought to highlight the need for greater housing supply to meet growing...

“It’s time to put to rest the idea of introducing income taxes of any...

- Washington Policy Center Government Reform Director Jason Mercier
Poll: voters overwhelming favor local income tax ban

Poll: voters overwhelmingly favor local income tax ban

During the Nov. 5 election Spokane voters approved a ban on a local income tax by roughly 72 percent. According to a new poll...
Legislative session 2020: What to expect

Legislative session 2020: What to expect

In recent years, single issues such as basic education funding have competed for attention during Washington state’s legislative sessions and pushed other priorities to...
Study claims lower Snake River dam removal would cost billions

Study claims lower Snake River dam removal would cost billions

As a state work group continues discussions regarding the future of the lower Snake River dams related to salmon recovery efforts, a new study...
Treasurer releases state debt report

Treasurer releases state debt report

A new report submitted by State Treasurer Duane Davidson to Secretary of State Kim Wyman shows that the state annual debt service is $381...
Skagit County sues state over timber harvest plan

Skagit County sues state over timber harvest plan

The state Board of Natural Resources (BNR) last month approved a 10-year sustainable harvest calculator that coincided with a habitat conservation plan (HCP) for...
Is congestion tolling right for Seattle?

Is congestion tolling right for Seattle?

A new study claims that a congestion pricing system for downtown Seattle could save drivers $90 million in travel time reductions while also providing...
Driverless tech navigates challenging course

Driverless tech navigates challenging course

The Washington State Transportation Commissions (WSTC) in October approved recommendations to the state legislature concerning the integration of autonomous vehicles (AV) on public roadways....
State may revive Stampede Pass train service

State may revive Stampede Pass train service

As the state continues to explore the idea of a bullet train line from Seattle north to British Columbia and south to Portland, it...
Puget Sound LCFS could cost $900 per household

Puget Sound LCFS could cost $900 per household

While the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) considers a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) within four counties, Governor Jay Inslee’s newly released proposed...
Inslee budget proposal pulls from rainy day fund

Inslee budget proposal pulls from rainy day fund

Governor Jay Inslee has released a proposed supplemental operating budget that if approved would draw $300 million from the state’s budget stabilization account, also...
Commission approves RUC recommendations

Commission approves RUC recommendations

The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) voted at its Dec. 17 meeting to approve recommendations to the state legislature regarding a proposed road usage...
Work group divided over universal healthcare

Work group divided over universal healthcare

The state Universal Health Care Work Group has released its initial report to the legislature on the idea of a single-payer or “universal” state...
Cosmic Crisp a hit with consumers

Cosmic Crisp a hit with consumers

The Cosmic Crisp apple has been released after 20 years of development, research, planting and harvesting. The combination of Enterprise and Honeycrisp apples is...
Stakeholders weigh in on USMCA deal

Stakeholders weigh in on USMCA deal

U.S. House Democrat leaders this week announced a deal has been reached with President Trump regarding the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) to replace the North...
Preserving small forestland through estate planning

Preserving small forestland through estate planning

The 20th anniversary of the Forests and Fish Law has coincided with renewed concern among policymakers regarding the health of small forestland owners who...
Sound Transit increases ST3 property tax rate

Sound Transit increases ST3 property tax

The Sound Transit Board of Directors has voted overwhelmingly in favor of a one percent property tax increase that is expected to generate an...
Bellingham City Council to hear climate action proposal

Bellingham City Council to hear climate action proposal

The Bellingham Climate Action Plan Task Force this week approved its final report on carbon emission reduction policies that include banning the use of...
Conservation strategy “lays off” working forestland

Conservation strategy “lays off” working forestland

The state Board of Natural Resources (BNR) at a Dec. 3 meeting approved a new Long Term Conservation Strategy (LTCS) for the marbled murrelet,...
“Back to the Future” with tax structure study

“Back to the Future” with tax structure study

Despite year after year of surplus revenue, Washington state’s tax structure continues to receive scrutiny from legislators – the latest coming from the Tax...
Ecology director to resign

Ecology director to resign

Ecology Director Maia Bellon has announced her resignation just weeks following a letter from U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers questioning her congressional testimony on...
Forest health funding tax proposed

Forest health funding tax proposed

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in recent years has developed a fire protection strategy plan as well as a long-term forest health...
Is income “property” in Washington state?

Is income “property” in Washington state?

For more than 80 years the Washington state Supreme court has ruled that income is property as defined by the Washington state constitution, which...
State grappling with forecasted revenue shortfalls

State grappling with forecasted revenue shortfalls

Although a new report by the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) estimates state tax collections will increase $300 million for the 2019-21...
Future growth in Washington

Future growth in Washington

The Growth Management Act (GMA) has guided local and regional planning since the state legislature approved it in 1990. In the nearly three decades...
Trade disputes cost Washingtonians $1 K a year

Trade disputes cost Washington households $1 K per year

As the most trade-dependent state in the nation with one third of its jobs tied to foreign commerce, Washington has been hit particularly hard...
State revenue projected to climb

State revenue projected to climb

Washington state can expect another two years of increased revenue, according to a new report from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC)....
Lawsuit challenges “title-only” bills

Lawsuit challenges “title-only” bills

In the last days of this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers – without any prior discussion – introduced and passed a new tax on...
Forest stakeholders: Science should inform water typing rule

Forest stakeholders: Science should inform water typing rule

The state Forest Practices Board for 20 years has been working on a water typing rule that determines where fish habitat protected by state...
: Do Washingtonians “own” their income?

Do Washingtonians “own” their income?

A Washington Supreme Court ruling last week involving a city of Seattle rental ordinance overturned a century of property case law. Now, the city...
Building blocks for new I-5 Bridge

Building blocks for new I-5 Bridge

Talks between Washington and Oregon state lawmakers have finally begun on a replacement or alternative to the Interstate 5 Bridge spanning the Columbia River...
Foresters cry “end run” around harvest plan

Foresters cry “end run” around harvest plan

The Washington Farm Forestry Association (WFFA) for more than four years has been working with the state on its alternative harvest proposal for small...

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