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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.
Gov signs working forest bill

Gov signs working forest bill

Governor Jay Inslee has signed HB 1011 into law notifying buyers that a piece of property is located next to a working forest. The...
Should outdoor rec sales get taxed?

Should outdoor rec sales be taxed?

Following significant budget cuts by the legislature following the Great Recession, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has yet to resume...
Reeling in fish barrier removal proposals

Reeling in fish barrier removal proposals

Following a ruling last year by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding an injunction against Washington state, lawmakers are looking for money to fund hundreds...
Senate passes $52.2 billion operating budget

Senate passes $52.2 billion operating budget

The Washington Senate on April 4 voted 31-17 to approve a $52.2 billion 2019-21 operating budget. Although state senators approved a version of ESHB...
Business owners concerned over income tax proposal

Business owners concerned over income tax proposal

The latest effort this legislative session to enact a capital gains income tax via HB 2156 as part of the House 2019-21 operating budget...
Vape tax clears Senate committee

Vape tax clears Senate committee

A Senate proposal to tax vaping products, also known as e-cigarettes, cleared the Ways and Means Committee on April 2 after some revisions. Although...
Legislators urged to stop Public Works account raids

Legislators urged to stop Public Works account raids

Since the Public Works Assistance Account was created in 1985, $2.2 billion has been diverted or transferred for purposes other than funding the revolving,...
The long and short of subdivisions

The long and short of subdivisions

A Senate proposal intended to increase the maximum number of units within a short subdivision continues to advance through the legislature. On April 2,...
House passes transportation budget

House passes transportation budget

The state House overwhelming approve its 2019-21 transportation budget on Mar. 29 that spends $10 billion on fish culvert repairs, the Interstate 5 Bridge...
How prepared is Washington for a recession?

How prepared is Washington for a recession?

As the legislature begins negotiations over the Senate and House budget proposals, some state officials are gauging Washington’s readiness for a potential recession similar...
Senate budget includes income tax, reflects “shared values”

Senate budget includes income tax, reflects “shared values”

Although the Senate proposed $52.2 billion 2019-21 operating budget unveiled on Mar. 29 spends almost $700 million less than the House’s proposed budget, it...
In search of balanced approach to housing affordability

In search of balanced approach to housing affordability

A recurring debate during this year’s legislative session concerns the state’s appropriate role regarding local housing supply and density, which can be largely determined...
New proposal to fund local infrastructure

New proposal to fund local infrastructure

While the House’s proposed 2019-21 operating budget would continue raids into the Public Works Trust account mean to fund local infrastructure projects, two identical...
Senate unveils transportation budget

Senate unveils transportation budget

The Senate Transportation Committee voted on Mar. 28 in favor of a proposed 2019-21 transportation budget that spends a similar amount as its counterpart...
No taxes proposed in House transportation budget

No taxes proposed in House transportation budget

The House Transportation Committee voted 28-3 on Mar. 27 in favor of a proposed 2019-21 transportation budget that increases funding for fish barrier removal...
Will new tax “vaporize” e-cigarette industry?

Will new tax “vaporize” e-cigarette industry?

Washington state currently levies an excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products that during the latest fiscal year brought in $414 million. Now,...
State House budget proposal includes new taxes

State House budget proposal includes new taxes

Last week, the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released a report estimating that Washington will generate more than $50 billion in the 2019-21...
Negotiations continue on clean energy bill

Negotiations continue on clean energy bill

A Senate proposal to put Washington state on the path toward 100 percent clean energy is advancing through the House after clearing the Committee...
Emergency loan proposal garners unanimous Senate support

Emergency loan proposal garners unanimous Senate support

Five years after the Oso landslide killed 43 people in Snohomish County, state lawmakers are considering an emergency revolving loan program to help repair...
State revenue: how much is enough?

State revenue: how much is enough?

The latest report from the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) shows that the Washington state legislature has $50 billion to spend for...
Salvaging Elliot Bay’s fishing pier

Salvaging Elliott Bay’s fishing pier

For anglers and others lamenting the closure of the fishing pier overlooking Elliott Bay in Puget Sound two years ago over safety concerns, a...
Will low carbon fuel standard move forward?

Will low carbon fuel standard move forward?

Now that a state House bill creating a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) has cleared that chamber, it remains to be seen whether its...
Brokering statewide broadband

Brokering statewide broadband

Both state legislative chambers have approved bills intended to get high speed broadband internet to the approximately 450,000 Washington residents who still lack access. Now,...
Assessing “no man’s land”

Assessing “no man’s land”

An ongoing challenge for state and local firefighters is what’s known as “no man’s land”: areas that do not fall under a fire jurisdiction...
Unanimous Senate vote on agricultural hemp

Unanimous Senate vote on agricultural hemp

Early last week, Senate lawmakers voted unanimously on ESSSB 5276 legalizing agricultural hemp production. If approved by the House and signed by Governor Jay...
Lawmakers embrace urban density proposal

Lawmakers embrace urban density proposal

A Democrat proposal to boost housing within urban areas received bipartisan support in a 66-30 house vote on Mar. 13. SSHB 1923 sponsored by...
Linking forest health projects with wildfires

Linking forest health projects with wildfires

In a unanimous 96-0 vote, the state House voted Mar. 13 in favor of SSHB 1784, which advocates say would create stronger links between...
House passes new "consent" bill for public worker unions

House passes new “consent” bill for public worker unions

Earlier this week House lawmakers approved in a 57-41 vote SSHB 1575 in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) Janus ruling last year...
LCFS proposal advances from House

LCFS proposal advances from House

After a lengthy debate on Mar. 12 that included over half a dozen amendments added to the bill, state House lawmakers voted 53-43 in...
Housing proposals ignite debate over local control

Housing proposal ignites debate over local control

The Washington Senate voted 38-10 on Mar. 11 in favor of SB 5812 requiring that cities and counties adopt ordinances and regulations allowing accessory...
One step closer to socialized medicine?

One step closer to socialized medicine?

In a 57-41 vote on Mar. 8, the Washington House approved ESSHB 1523 after an extended and heated discussion that at one point caused...
New research finds LCFS bad for environment

New research finds LCFS bad for environment

Opponents of a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) such as that proposed in Washington state say the program would be costly to implement, impossible...
State Senate approves tiny home bill

State Senate approves tiny home bill

The Washington Senate voted overwhelming 44-2 in favor of a bill allowing cities and towns to create ordinances regulating tiny house communities, while prohibiting...
: Guest worker fee, or job tax on farmers?

Guest worker fee, or job tax on farmers?

The Washington Senate in a 26-21 vote approved a bill creating a new fee to be paid by farmers who rely on H-2A visa...
Are lawmakers reviving I-1631?

Are lawmakers reviving I-1631?

Last November voters turned down Initiative 1631, which would have created a $15 per-metric-ton carbon tax and an oversight board composed primarily of governor-appointees...
Transportation package advances

Transportation package advances

A proposed 10-year transportation package to fund new infrastructure and court-ordered fish culvert projects cleared the Senate Transportation Committee after several amendments were incorporated....
Senate approves plastic bag ban

Senate approves plastic bag ban

Consumers soon may no longer be able to choose plastic bags at retail stores in Washington state, thanks to a proposal that passed in...
Kneecapping housing affordability efforts

Kneecapping housing affordability efforts

Washingtonians living in the central Puget Sound region aren’t the only ones affected by the housing shortage. The problem has also extended to the...
State farmers could take hit on chemical ban

State farmers could take hit on chemical ban

The state House has successfully passed ESSHB 1112 in a 55-39 vote to gradually phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons in products such as...
Can Washington maintain affordable energy?

Can Washington maintain affordable energy?

The same day Governor Jay Inslee announced his bid for the presidency on the Democrat ticket, the state Senate in a 28-19 vote passed...
I-405 tolls: should they stay or should they go?

I-405 tolls: should they stay or should they go?

State lawmakers may decide this session if the dynamic tolling system on a 15-mile segment of Interstate 405’s high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes between...
Transportation proposal gets mixed review

Transportation proposal gets mixed review

Senate Transportation Chair Steve Hobbs (D-44) has unveiled a series of bills creating 10-year, $17 billion transportation package that includes a carbon fee and...
LCFS: “Bad news all around”

LCFS: “Bad news all around”

A proposal to create a low carbon fuel standard program (LCFS) in Washington state has cleared the House Appropriations Committee and could soon land...
Will lawmakers vote for Sound Transit elections?

Will lawmakers vote for Sound Transit elections?

As the state’s only regional transit authority (RTA), Sound Transit is run by a board of 18 members who are appointed by their respective...
Reckoning may come on car tab relief

Reckoning may come on car tab relief

State lawmakers may find themselves between a rock and a hard place: allowing Washingtonians to decide whether to approve a $30 car tab initiative...
Restoring public infrastructure funding

Restoring public infrastructure funding

There are currently more than $800 million worth of local public infrastructure projects ready to move forward but lack funding that might otherwise come...
Supporting initial wildfire attacks

Supporting initial wildfire attacks

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) managed last year to keep more than 90 percent of wildfires to 10 acres or less. Several...
Public bank proposal meets much criticism

Public bank proposal meets much criticism

The notion of a public bank in Washington state received a critical appraisal at a Feb. 21 public hearing of the Senate Financial Institutions,...
Private-public partnership for fish barrier removal

Private-public partnership for fish barrier removal

While state lawmakers contemplate various proposals to fund the removal of fish barriers on public land managed by the Washington State Department of Transportation...
Another possible win for mass timber

Another possible win for mass timber

Now that the Washington State Building Code Council and International Code Council (ICC) have incorporated advances in cross-laminated timber (CLT) technology, a bipartisan group...
Proposal uses existing taxes to fund highways

Proposal uses existing taxes to fund highways

A major priority for Washington state is not only infrastructure funding to meet existing transportation demands, but also maintaining the revenue streams that finance...

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