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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.
Is a measure of car tab relief on its way?

Is a measure of car tab relief on its way?

The Senate Transportation Committee has cleared a bill backed by key Senate Democrat leaders that would alter the way Sound Transit calculates its motor...
RUC bill clears Transportation Committee

RUC bill clears Transportation Committee

SB 6586, a measure sponsored by Senate Transportation Vice Chair Rebecca Saldaña (D-37) that creates a road usage charge (RUC) program for electric and...
Clean Air Rule bill advances

Clean Air Rule bill advances

A revised HB 289 granting the state Department of Ecology the broad authority to regulate “indirect” carbon emission as part of its Clean Air...
Amid warnings of hit to business community, B&O tax clears legislature

Amid warnings of hit to business community, B&O tax clears legislature

The state House voted 52-45 on Feb. 6 in favor of SB 6492 creating a new set of business and occupation (B&O) taxes and...
Bill would shorten building permit deadlines

Bill would shorten building permit deadlines

As the debate continues over how best to address the cost of housing, building industry stakeholders say that along with housing impact fees, another...
Pierce County’s ‘Trexit’ from ST3

Pierce County’s ‘Trexit’ from ST3

Pierce County voters in 2016 voted by 55 percent in opposition to the $54 billion ST3 transit and light rail tax package. In November,...
Lawsuit drives I-976 proposals

Lawsuit drives I-976 proposals

Three bills introduced in the state Senate would codify into law most of Initiative 976 approved by 53 percent of voters in November. Driving...
Another run at jobs tax

Another run at jobs tax

Almost two years after opposing a job tax in Seattle that later was rescinded by the City Council with another local business tax possible,...
Stakeholders warn expanding DOE authority could jeopardize business

Stakeholders warn expanding DOE authority could jeopardize business

The Washington State Supreme Court last year invalidated parts of the state Department of Ecology’s (DOE) Clean Air Rule due to a lack of...
&O tax shuffle gets mixed reviews

B&O tax shuffle gets mixed reviews

The state legislature last year enacted E2SHB 2158, which imposes the business and occupation (B&O) tax surcharge on certain businesses to pay for higher education...
Stakeholders question need to rework water rights

Stakeholders question need to rework water rights

House lawmakers have introduced a proposal that would place some restrictions on water rights transfers in order to address concerns over public interest with...
GMA reform bill lands public hearing

GMA reform bill lands public hearing

One of the ways policymakers have sought to address the state’s housing crisis is by reforming provisions of the state Growth Management Act (GMA)...
Debate continues over road usage charge

Debate continues over road usage charge

Although state gas tax revenue used to fund state highways has remained stable, state lawmakers behind SB 6586 say now is the time to...
LCFS proposal “destroys our competitiveness”

LCFS proposal “destroys our competitiveness”

The state House has voted 52-44 in favor of a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) program via HB 1110; introduced last year and at...
State bank bill revived

State bank bill revived

In recent legislative sessions Majority Caucus Vice Chair Bob Hasegawa (D-11) has pushed for the creation of a state bank to fund public infrastructure...
Bills could restructure housing impact fees

Bills could restructure housing impact fees

Two bills that could affect the structure of local impact fees imposed by cities on new housing construction with the goal of improving  housing...
Legislators plan to tweak urban density law

Legislators plan to tweak urban density law

HB 6334 sponsored by Rep. Jesse Salomon (D-32) and its companion bill HB 2343 introduced by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34) tweak several provisions in...
Bill would boost salmon production

Bill would boost salmon production

The House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources is scheduled to vote today on a bill seeking to improve Southern Resident killer...
Critics warn “just cause” eviction bill will backfire

Critics warn “just cause” eviction bill will backfire

HB 2453 sponsored by Rep. Nicole Macri (D-43) would require that landlords evicting a tenant or refusing to renew a lease agreement do so...
Stakeholders urge caution in proposal to restructure transportation funding

Stakeholders urge caution in proposal to restructure transportation funding

State lawmakers have proposed to grant considerable new powers to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) regarding highway funding. Under HB 2688 sponsored...
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...

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