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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.
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...
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...

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