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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 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...
Trucking’s future role in RUC program

Trucking’s future role in RUC program

Although the trucking industry isn’t included in Washington state’s ongoing exploration of a road usage charge (RUC) program as an eventual replacement for the...
Budget cuts could undermine hatchery production

Budget cuts could undermine hatchery production

After years of trying to reestablish its pre-Great Recession funding levels, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is looking at potential...
I-5 Bridge talks remain cautious

I-5 Bridge talks remain cautious

More than two years after the Washington state legislature created an interstate committee to restart the I-5 Bridge replacement process, the political fallout from...
Washington’s cash flow woes

Washington’s cash flow woes

On top of a $4.5 billion revenue shortfall in its operating budget, the state of Washington is now facing a cash flow problem that...

“At this point it doesn’t look like there will even be a #waleg work...

– House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox (R-2).
Pension council rejects lower growth assumptions

Pension council rejects lower growth assumptions

The Pension Funding Council voted 4-2 at its July 29 meeting to keep a 7.5 percent assumed rate of growth for investments a week...
Mild wildfire season could intensify in weeks ahead

Mild wildfire season could intensify in weeks ahead

This year’s wildfire season is proving to be one of the mildest in the past decade, though weather forecasted for the next week could...
State tourism branding efforts complicated by pandemic

State tourism branding efforts complicated by pandemic

The state economic shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has only complicated efforts by the Washington Tourism Marketing Authority (WTMA) to promote the...
Could JBLM relocate to accommodate a future airport?

Could JBLM relocate to accommodate a future airport?

The Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) Aviation Coordination Commission over the next two years must come up with several potential locations for a...
Unfunded liability drops as committee recommends lower pension rates

Unfunded liability drops as committee recommends lower pension rates

The state Select Committee on Pension Policy has voted to lower the assumed rate of return for the state’s public pension investments from 7.5...
Is single payer health care a nonstarter?

Is single payer health care a nonstarter?

Although Washington state’s Universal Health Care Work Group has yet to make formal recommendations to the state legislature on how to implement a single...
train

High speed rail talks move ahead

For three years, a coalition of public and private groups has explored the idea of an ultra-high-speed rail corridor from Vancouver, B.C. through Seattle...
Seattle City Council approves new payroll tax

Seattle City Council approves new payroll tax

Just over two years after passing and repealing a job tax ordinance, the Seattle City Council voted at a July 6 meeting in favor...
High court to decide I-976 fate

High court to decide I-976 fate

The state Supreme Court will decide the fate of Initiative 976 sponsored by Tim Eyman, following oral arguments at a June 30 hearing and...
Study: Rent control would wipe out year’s worth of housing

Study: Rent control would wipe out year’s worth of housing

In recent years, efforts at both the local and state levels have been made to restrict control of rental property by landlords. A proposal...
EPA draft rule could undermine lower Snake River dam operations

EPA draft rule could undermine lower Snake River dam operations

While a new environmental impact statement (EIS) by three government agencies operating the lower Snake River dams opposes breaching them to aid salmon recovery,...
Work group to develop health system recommendations

Work group to develop health system recommendations

A state Universal Health Care Work Group formed last year is working on recommendations to the state legislature regarding a universal, or single-payer, health...
New taxes under consideration for state transportation

New taxes under consideration for state transportation

Prior to the state-ordered shutdown due to COVID-19 and the passage of Initiative 976, the state transportation infrastructure was already suffering from a significant...
Department of Energy joins Hydropower Research Institute

Department of Energy joins Hydropower Research Institute

Several years ago a group of public and private utilities along with several federal government agencies formed the Hydropower Research Institute (HRI), a data-sharing,...
Mixed reaction to Stampede Pass rail line

Mixed reaction to Stampede Pass rail line

A consulting group will soon release a final report on its study of passenger rail service from Seattle to Spokane via the Stampede Pass...
State audit offers Sound Transit cost reduction strategies

State audit offers Sound Transit cost reduction strategies

Keeping Sound Transit project costs within budget has been a concern starting with the 1996 Sound Move project and has persisted in recent years...
State faces $4.5 billion budget shortfall

State faces $4.5 billion budget shortfall

The latest revenue forecast released by the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) revealed what most state officials and legislators already expected: a...
Group outlines plan for EV truck infrastructure

Group outlines plan for EV truck infrastructure

A group of West Coast utilities are collaborating on long-term planning for an interstate electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure for EV trucks in hopes...
State Actuary: Pay now or later for obligations

State Actuary: Pay now or later for obligations

The State Actuary’s Office plans to review the public pension system’s actuarial gains or losses at the end of the month. However, there are...
Businesses groups protest heavy fines for confusing guidelines

Businesses groups protest heavy fines for confusing guidelines

As businesses reopen across the state, many are struggling to comply with what industry advocates argue are inconsistent and ambiguous safety guidelines issued by...
Air pollution unaffected by traffic decrease, data show

Air pollution unaffected by traffic decrease, data show

One of the many arguments proponents have made for either a regional or statewide low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) to reduce the amount of...
Growers prepare for harvest amid COVID-19

Growers prepare for harvest amid COVID-19

As summer approaches, Washington growers are preparing for a harvest marked by additional safety precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the extra...
Mobile nuclear tech could stabilize energy system

Mobile nuclear tech could stabilize energy system

With new state mandates imposing carbon neutral energy requirements, some utilities are evaluating an emerging energy technology which may have the potential to provide...
Sound Transit faces massive revenue hit

Sound Transit faces massive revenue hit

One of the major objections raised by Sound Transit advocates against a recent legislative proposal to reduce the ST3 motor vehicle excise tax by...
Shutdown raises concerns over government power

Shutdown raises concerns over government power

A Chelan County Superior Court judge this week ruled that a lawsuit against Governor Jay Inslee’s stay home order can move forward. The use...
Economic forecast released; officials urge special session

Economic forecast released; officials urge special session

A new update from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) offered little surprise as to an economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19...
energy graphic

Regional utility moves quickly to implement clean energy law

One of the most significant public policy decisions made by state law makers in 2019 was the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) – a...

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