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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.
What constitutes Sound Transit car tab “relief”?

What constitutes Sound Transit car tab “relief”?

The 2018 legislative session began with key Democrat lawmakers vowing to implement tax relief for Puget Sound drivers paying a new motor vehicle excise...
House bill would speed cleanup on state lands

House bill would speed cleanup on state lands

Record-setting wildfire seasons in recent years have prompted consensus among state lawmakers to reform public land management practices. A new bipartisan House bill would...
State of the State: A house divided

State of the State: A house divided

Governor Jay Inslee’s January 9 State of the State speech mixed celebratory rhetoric for recent bipartisan achievements with renewed calls for climate-change-related proposals that...
Fuel standard proposal may be untenable, stakeholders warn

Stakeholders: Fuel standard proposal may be untenable

Washington state carbon emission reduction is the driving force behind an assortment of proposed legislation this session, with Governor Jay Inslee setting the mood...
Construction workers and equipment

Washington’s housing and transportation disconnect

Washington has spent roughly $12.5 billion on transportation capital projects since 2011-13, yet a lack of cohesion between transportation investments, regional housing and job...
Revisiting Sound Transit car tab relief

Revisiting Sound Transit car tab relief

Left unresolved by state lawmakers during last year’s legislative session was how to provide adequate car tab relief for Puget Sound drivers paying new...
Lawmakers: Regional growth plans must acknowledge reality

Lawmakers: Regional growth plans must acknowledge reality

As the central Puget Sound region continues to struggle with explosive growth, some state lawmakers say certain provisions in the state’s Growth Management Act...
raiding-money

Raiding Washington’s toxic cleanup fund

A state Department of Ecology account intended to fund the cleanup of orphan hazardous sites in Washington is projected to have a $69 million...
Higher tolls could improve I-405 travel times, WSDOT study says

Higher tolls could improve I-405 travel times, WSDOT study says

The fate of dynamic tolling of 17-miles of high occupancy (HOV) lanes on Interstate 405 between Bellevue and Lynnwood could have long-term implications for...
Court says Ecology overreached with Clean Air Rule

Court says Ecology overreached with Clean Air Rule

A Thurston County Superior Court judge ruling on Friday invalidated the state Department of Ecology’s Clean Air Rule due to a lack of statutory...
State Treasurer warns against use of emergency funds in budget proposal

State Treasurer warns against use of emergency funds in budget proposal

Governor Jay Inslee’s proposed 2018 supplemental budget released Thursday brought forth mixed tidings of discomfort and joy. His operating budget would add $1 billion...
Ultra high-speed rail could work, study finds

Ultra high-speed rail could work, study finds

A high-speed rail line between Vancouver, B.C. through Seattle to Portland, Oregon could potentially provide 1.7-2.1 million annual trips and pay for its own...
Seattle’s vacation rentals industry hit with new rules

Seattle’s vacation rental industry hit with new rules

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved new regulations at a Monday meeting on short-term and vacation rentals that industry members warn will backfire as...
Seattle makes “long shot” appeal on income tax

Seattle makes “long shot” appeal on income tax

The city of Seattle is moving forward with its “long shot” appeal to the King County Superior Court ruling on its income tax ordinance....
Washington high court adds doubt to Seattle income tax appeal

Washington high court adds doubt to Seattle income tax appeal

A Washington State Supreme Court ruling issued Thursday may have just added yet another hurdle for any possible appeal by the city of Seattle...
Nearly half a billion spent fighting Washington wildfires since 2010

Nearly half a billion spent fighting Washington wildfires since 2010

Between 2010-2016, the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Office of the State Fire Marshall spent nearly half a billion responding to...
Preparing Washington for air cargo’s big takeoff

Preparing Washington for air cargo’s big takeoff

Air freight is a popular form of transport for Washington producers exporting their products overseas to the Asia market. The state’s primary gateway for...
Seattle, think tank income tax arguments are “frivolous,” says plaintiff

Seattle, think tank income tax arguments are “frivolous,” says plaintiff

The plaintiffs challenging the city of Seattle’s income tax have succeeded so far, with a November 22 ruling in King County Superior Court overturning...
Study findings may discourage legislators’ budget tinkering

Study findings may discourage legislators’ budget tinkering

Washington benefits from one of the more stable revenue streams in the nation, and the best among the West Coast states. That’s according to...
More GMA fine-tuning needed for rural counties, say lawmakers

More GMA fine-tuning needed for rural counties, say lawmakers

As Washington continues to grow, rural counties throughout the state are struggling to attract new businesses and jobs for their residents. Some state and...
King County court smacks down Seattle income tax

King County court smacks down Seattle income tax

If the city of Seattle’s message to residents was “you can leave if you don't like our income tax,” King County Superior Court perhaps...
Seattle: Don’t like our income tax? Move to Bellevue

Seattle: Don’t like our income tax? Move to Bellevue

If you don’t like Seattle’s income tax, then you can get out. It’s a sentiment perhaps more appropriate for an episode of South Park, but...
Washington high court still unsatisfied with education spending

Washington high court still unsatisfied with education spending

When asked how much money is enough, industrialist John Rockefeller replied: "Just a little bit more." That seemed to be the Washington State Supreme...
Camas mill closure the “canary in the coal mine”?

Camas mill closure the “canary in the coal mine”?

An Atlanta-based pulp and paper company announced this week its plans to close a Southwest Washington pulp mill that has operated since before Washington’s...
Lawmakers look back to the future for rural broadband access in Washington state

Lawmakers look back to the future for rural broadband access in Washington state

State lawmakers are renewing the push for greater rural broadband access in Washington communities. Proponents of a Senate bill introduced during this year’s session...
Does Washington Need A “Climate Change” For Manufacturers?

Does Washington need a “climate change” for manufacturers?

Washington manufacturers currently make up roughly nine percent of the state’s workforce. This represents a three percent drop since 2000, according to a new...
Washingtonians overwhelmingly oppose new state taxes in advisory votes

Washingtonians overwhelmingly oppose new state taxes in advisory votes

Washington voters soundly rejected in non-binding advisory votes three tax measures approved by the state legislature this session. But it remains to be seen...
The bottom-up strategy to reform collective bargaining

The bottom-up strategy to reform collective bargaining

Progressive income tax advocates have hoped to use local governments to push for statewide implementation of that tax. While that stratagem may soon get...
Finding compromise on Seattle’s short-term rental rules

Finding compromise on Seattle’s short-term rental rules

Less than one percent of Seattle’s housing is used for short-term rentals. Nevertheless, the Seattle City Council aims to impose a new tax on...
State Auditor’s budget request "bombshell"

State Auditor’s budget request “bombshell”

The State Auditor’s Office (SAO) hasn’t performed an accountability audit on 55 state agencies for more than four years, and four new state agencies...
Killing affordable micro-housing has complicated Seattle housing landscape

Killing affordable micro-housing has complicated Seattle housing landscape

One stated objective of the city of Seattle’s hotly contested income tax proposal is to address the regional housing affordability crisis. Not only has...
DNR releases 20-year forest health plan

DNR releases 20-year forest health plan

If Washingtonians think wildfires are bad now, things could get even worse for future generations. According to predictions, the Pacific Northwest could lose four...
Lawmakers say Sound Transit misled voters, propose key reform measures

Lawmakers say Sound Transit misled voters, propose key reform measures

Following two work sessions investigating Sound Transit, top-ranking Republican lawmakers on the Senate Law and Justice Committee say the results prove the regional transit...
Seattle’s income tax could lead to even higher home, rental prices, industry leaders say

Seattle’s income tax could lead to even higher home, rental prices, industry leaders say

One of the justifications cited in the city ordinance for Seattle’s income tax is to address the “affordable housing crisis.” However, real estate industry...
Puget Sound’s home price conundrum

Puget Sound’s home price conundrum

The Puget Sound region has always had an edge related to other parts of Washington state when it comes to the real estate market....
Lawmakers investigate Sound Transit 3

Lawmakers investigate Sound Transit 3

Months following a strong public backlash to Sound Transit’s new motor vehicle excise (MVET) tax for ST3, state lawmakers this week commenced formal investigations...
Why small builders could become an endangered species in Seattle

Why small builders could become an endangered species in Seattle

Even as building industry leaders in the Seattle metro area are highlighting the need for land-use reform to reduce housing costs, many small builders...
Judge allows think tank to intervene in Seattle’s income tax lawsuit

Judge allows think tank to intervene in Seattle’s income tax lawsuit

A King County Superior Court judge has granted a think tank’s request to help defend the city of Seattle’s progressive income tax that it...
Port a catalyst for economic growth in Clark County

Port a catalyst for economic growth in Clark County

As Clark County prepares for further economic development, the Port of Vancouver could prove another strong source of growth in the region. At the moment,...
Creating Clark County jobs for local commuters

Creating Clark County jobs for local commuters

Around a third of Clark County’s workforce – 60,000 residents – commute for work each day across the Columbia River into Oregon. In coming...

Survey: Americans say sales tax “fairest of them all”

Washington state’s sales tax is one of the highest in the nation and has come under fire from progressive tax system advocates who say...

Think tank that helped create Seattle’s progressive income tax wants to defend it

A Seattle think tank that was paid $50,000 by the city for consultant work on its progressive income tax now wants to intervene in...

Note to Seattle: Amazon seeks “stable & business-friendly climate”

Business advocates have warned of backlash to the anti-employer rhetoric emanating from places such as Seattle, which in recent years has approved a variety...

Forest management of Suncadia resort pays dividends during Jolly Mountain Fire

The Jolly Mountain Fire near Roslyn and Cle Elum is one of many ongoing wildfires ravaging central and eastern Washington. So far, the lightning-caused...

How Seattle might defend its progressive income tax

The city of Seattle has invested nearly $400,000 into crafting and legally defending its progressive income tax ordinance against numerous lawsuits. That amount includes...

Wildfire smoke hasn’t tainted this year’s grape harvest – yet

Washington wine lovers will be pleased to know that the wildfire smoke inundating the skies and reducing air quality over much of the state...

Proposed road user charge program faces uphill battle

The Washington State Transportation Commission’s (WSTC) road user charge (RUC) pilot program is scheduled to begin next year. WSTC officials hope to get 2,000...

City of Seattle withholds $50,000 consultant report on progressive income tax ordinance

Update: Shortly after this article was published, the city of Seattle released one of the documents requested by Jason Mercier, who has written a...
Enhanced weather technology proves useful in fighting wildfires

Enhanced weather technology proves useful in fighting wildfires

As this year’s relatively mild wildfire season tapers down, state lawmakers and Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials may consider the benefits of...

Lawmakers take second look at possible collective bargain reforms

Some state lawmakers are looking at ways to avoid a repeat of this year’s extended special session – the longest in Washington history. One contributor...
Lawmakers, telecom industry call for greater rural broadband access

Lawmakers, telecom industry call for greater rural broadband access

State lawmakers and the telecom industry are renewing their efforts to expand internet access in Washington after several bills introduced this session failed to...

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