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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.
State sues EPA over water quality standard

State sues EPA over water quality standards

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for repealing water quality standards that overrode those...
Swapping sales tax exemption for a refund: Will it work?

Swapping sales tax exemption for a refund: Will it work?

An upcoming change to the state sales tax exemption for nonresidents and the reaction by different business entities reflect the diversity of Washington’s economic...
Locals headed to small biz boot camp

Locals headed to small biz boot camp

Recent tariffs imposed by the U.S. on Chinese imports continue to affect small business members such as Krystal and Blake Garfield with the family-owned...
Fish barriers the new ‘McCleary’ for lawmakers

Fish barriers the new ‘McCleary’ for lawmakers

For several years the 2012 state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision regarding the legislature’s legal obligation to fund basic education dominated the legislative sessions as...
Another look at rangeland associations

Stakeholders weigh in on rangeland associations

Earlier this year Washington state lawmakers considered HB 1188 sponsored by Rep. Tom Dent (R-13) that would allow the creation of rangeland fire protection...
Sound Transit lawsuit sent to high court

Sound Transit lawsuit sent to high court

The Commissioner of the Washington Supreme Court has granted a motion by Sound Transit to have a class action lawsuit filed against the ST3...
Utilities in support of lower Snake River dams

Utilities in support of lower Snake River dams

This legislative session, Washington lawmakers approved a bill calling for the state to achieve 100 percent clean energy, while at the time authorizing a...
Grant County wildfire prompts evac

Grant County wildfire prompts evac

Washington state’s first major wildfire of the season has broken out in Grant County grassland area near the Columbia Basin in central Washington, prompting...
Sound Transit asks for high court review

Sound Transit asks for high court review

A year ago, a group of private citizens filed a class action lawsuit against Sound Transit, arguing that its motor vehicle excise tax (MVET)...
Inrix announces new “smart” traffic technology

Inrix announces new “smart” traffic technology

Kirkland-based Inrix has released new artificial intelligence technology, INRIX AI Traffic,  which the company says can provide hyper-accurate, live traffic data to a variety...

The growing market for mass timber

In recent years, significant state legislation and building code changes have occurred related to cross-laminated timber (CLT) – also known as mass timber –...
person walking in dirt

The challenge to Washington family farms

There are roughly 35,700 farms in Washington state, according to 2017 census data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That figure represents the loss...

Bracing for statewide wildfire season

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is preparing for what could be a severe wildfire season on both sides of the Cascades. While...
Lawmakers: Veto bank tax bill

Lawmakers: Veto bank tax bill

Several top-ranking Republican state lawmakers and a Democrat senator are calling on Governor Jay Inslee to veto SHB 2167, arguing it was passed by...
Is gridlock here to stay?

Is gridlock here to stay?

During this legislative session state lawmakers approved SB 5825 which makes the tolls on Interstate 405 and State Route 167 permanent. However, the legislation...
How timber sales can pay for forest health work

How timber sales can pay for forest health work

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages 2.1 million acres of working forests located on state trust land with a legal mandate to...
EPA reverses water quality rule

EPA reverses water quality rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reversed its 2017 decision to override a water quality rule adopted by the Washington Department of Ecology with...
Urban density bill signed by Inslee

Urban density bill signed by Inslee

Governor Jay Inslee has signed E2SHB 1923 sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34) into law – a bill that supporters hope will increase housing...
Contemplating a single-payer system

Contemplating a single-payer system

Washington state lawmakers this session considered several bills intended to reduce healthcare costs. However, while the approach focuses on capping the rates by health...
EPA to reverse state fish consumption rule?

EPA to reconsider state fish consumption rule?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) two years ago overrode a new water quality rule adopted by the Washington Department of Ecology with its own...
The future of Washington’s small forestland

The future of Washington’s small forestland

A new study authorized by the state legislature will determine how much small forestland remains in Washington state, along with ways to encourage the...
Ensuring a future for small forestland

Ensuring a future for small forestland

Washington state lawmakers this session approved ESSB 5330 directing the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences to look at the economic...
Stakeholder: Legislative run on banks sends “chilling message”

Stakeholder: Legislative run on banks sends “chilling message”

Now that the state legislature has approved a bill imposing a new tax on financial institutions, Washington bankers are scrambling to find out what’s...
Lawmakers approve tax exemption extension

Lawmakers approve tax exemption extension

While Washington state lawmakers have approved a list of new taxes as part of the 2019-21 operating budget, one industry managed to receive a...
Funding for Fish and Wildlife comes up short

Funding for Fish and Wildlife comes up short

Despite a revenue surplus of $4.4 billion for the 2019-21 biennium – and a $7.7 billion spending increase in the operating budget – the...
Healthcare “standardized” plan proposal passes

Healthcare “standardized” plan proposal passes

The Washington state lawmakers in the final days of session approved legislation intended to lower healthcare costs, but opponents say it will have the...
Transportation budget clears legislature

Transportation budget clears legislature

The Washington legislature voted overwhelming in favor of a $10 billion 2019-21 transportation budget that funds major projects in central Puget Sound as well...

Legislature approves new taxes, $7.7 billion spending increase

While Washingtonians slept, the state legislature this weekend approved a $52.8 billion 2019-21 operating budget that includes a slew of new taxes, some of...
Congestion-financed transportation projects

Congestion-financed transportation projects

The Washington legislature this weekend voted in favor of ESSB 5825 sponsored by Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44) to make the tolls...
Senate approves hazardous tax hike

Senate approves hazardous waste tax hike

After extensive debate on April 25, the Washington Senate voted 27-22 to increase the Hazardous Substance Tax that currently funds the Model Toxic Control...
B&O tax hike for higher education?

B&O tax hike for higher education?

The House Appropriations Committee has voted in favor of a bill imposing a business and occupation (B&O) surcharge on various businesses with the money...
Legislature revises graduation requirements

Legislature revises graduation requirements

The Washington legislature has overwhelmingly approved a bill that eliminates certain high school graduation requirements regarding state assessments. Supporters say it will encourage stronger...
Senate passes vape tax

Senate passes vape tax

The Washington Senate on April 23 voted 35-13 in favor of a bill that taxes vaping products, also known as e-cigarettes. SB 5986 has...
Committee advances hunting, fishing fee bill

Committee advances hunting, fishing fee bill

Two companion bills to increases the recreational hunting and fishing fee paid to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have cleared their...
Tax structure bill clears committee amid concern

Tax structure bill clears committee amid concern

The House Appropriations Committee voted on April 22 after a public hearing to advance a bill that makes changes to the state tax structure...
Income tax bill advances

Income tax bill advances

The same week a 2014 legal memo to the Seattle City council regarding a proposed “millionaire’s tax” was released, the House Finance Committee voted...
New tax to pay for wildfires?

New tax to pay for wildfires?

Since 2009, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has spent more than $700 million fighting wildfires. Sen. Kevin Van De Wege (D-24) and...
Seattle attorney memo sheds light on city income tax

Seattle attorney memo sheds light on city income tax

One of the questions surrounding the city of Seattle’s 2017 income tax ordinance is what the city council was told by City Attorney Peter...
Unanimous support for forestland bill

Unanimous support for forestland bill

A bill to study the economic health of Washington small forestland owners has cleared the legislature with unanimous support. ESSB 5330 sponsored by Sen....
Preparing for Washington’s future airport

Preparing for Washington’s future airport

State House lawmakers on April 16 voted unanimously in favor of a Senate proposal to begin planning for Washington’s next major airport to accommodate...
Senate approves House wildfire bill

Senate approves House wildfire bill

A bill directing the state Department of Natural Resources to conduct forest health projects that also benefit wildfire suppression efforts was approved by the...
Senate approves House timber bill

Senate approves House timber bill

The Washington Senate on April 16 voted 47-1 in favor of a bill intended to boost the timber industry in rural counties with higher...
Senate approves chemical ban

Senate approves chemical ban

The Washington Senate voted 35-13 on April 15 in favor of ESSHB 1112 to gradually phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons in refrigeration products...
Senate approves urban housing bill

Senate approves urban housing bill

The Washington Senate on April 13 voted 33-12 in favor of a House bill intended to boost the housing supply within urban areas in...
Public union consent bill passes

Public union consent bill passes

The Washington Senate on April 12 passed legislation regarding public sector union membership in the wake of the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court Janus ruling....
Worker fee removed from H-2A bill

Worker fee removed from H-2A bill

A Senate proposal to address the growing number of workers under the federal H-2A temporary agricultural visa program in Washington state received unanimous support...
Health care bill clears House

Health care bill clears House

The Washington House voted 53-38 on April 10 in favor of a Senate bill purported to lower health care costs, while detractors argued prior...
House approves clean energy bill

House approves clean energy bill

House lawmakers on April 11 approved a Senate bill intended to wean Washington state off electricity produced by carbon. However, despite numerous revisions and...
Low carbon fuel standard stalls

Low carbon fuel standard stalls

ESSHB 1110, which would create a statewide low carbon fuel standard (LCFS), has hit a roadblock after it failed to clear an April 9...
Making I-405 tolls permanent

Making I-405 tolls permanent

The dynamic tolling system on a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 405 between Bellevue and Lynwood was opened in 2015 to improve mobility and offer...
Senate bill would change state tax structure

Senate bill would change state tax structure

Despite a nearly $4.46 billion revenue increase from the 2017-19 biennium, some state lawmakers have introduced proposals to restructure Washington’s tax system. Among them...

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