(360) 786-7608|mark.mullet@leg.wa.gov

Monthly Archives: February 2016

E News- Helping families save for college

February 23rd, 2016|

Dear friends and neighbors,

As the father of four daughters, I know how stressful it can feel when planning to save for college. What families need are options. That’s why this session I co-sponsored Senate Bill 6601, which establishes the Washington College Savings Program. This bill creates a 529 defined-contribution savings plan that will work in concert with the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program.

SB 6601 also has provisions designed to inform families how the two savings options can work together to provide a more robust college savings plan. This makes it simple for people who want to move money from one plan to another. Right now it is a complex process if a family wants to transfer GET dollars into a different savings program. With this legislation, all it will take is a click of a button.

We need to make it as easy as possible for families in Washington to save money for college. Similar savings accounts have been successful in other states. Now it’s Washington’s turn to implement this smart and simple proposal so families can pick the savings plans that best help them invest in their children’s future.

At the beginning of the legislative session, I encountered resistance from several Republican Higher Education Committee members about creating a state savings plan, so having the bill pass the Senate with a unanimous vote was a major accomplishment. SB 6601 now heads to the House for further consideration. I am confident this bill will be signed into law before the end of the legislative session.

Sincerely,

Mullet_sig

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    Small business owner’s concerns result in legislative action

Small business owner’s concerns result in legislative action

February 17th, 2016|

OLYMPIA – Senate Bill 6120 that cleared the Senate today, is evidence that citizen engagement can lead to legislative action.

Last spring, Joe Grez, the president of PropEle Electric Boat Motors and a resident of the 5th Legislative District, approached Sen Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, with concerns about the hassles his customers faced when trying to use his product – electric boat paddles.

After their meeting, Mullet sprang into action and filed legislation.

SB 6120 would allow people to use low-power, electric boat motors — electric paddles — on small vessels like kayaks and row boats without having to register their vessels with the Department of Licensing.

“I hear from too many people that government is unresponsive,” said Mullet. “But I want people in in my community to know that if they have a good idea, I’ll listen and we’ll work together on a solution.”

Grez’s company makes electric boat paddles so that people who are no longer physically capable of rowing or kayaking can continue to participate in the boating activities they enjoy.

“From the moment I called his office, Sen. Mullet’s team recognized the needs of both small boaters and small business owners,” said Grez. “They truly represent and advocate for the citizens and businesses in their district.”

SB 6120 was passed with a unanimous vote. It now heads to the House for further consideration.

Washington College Savings Program passes Senate

February 17th, 2016|

Olympia – Legislation authorizing the new Washington College Savings Program passed the Senate late Tuesday night.

SB 6601 permits the Committee for Advanced Tuition Payment (the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Committee) to begin a 529 defined-contribution state savings plan.  The legislation, which was earlier recommended by the five-member GET Committee, provides flexibility for the program to be run through the State Investment Board, in combination with another State 529 plan, or with an outside financial services firm.

“This bill creates an important tool families at all income levels can use to save for college expenses,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, prime sponsor of the bill. “We wanted to increase the options our families have to work with and not limit the specific number of units that can be bought or penalize families that cannot afford to save for their child’s college education until their teen years.”

Frockt added that similar savings accounts have proved successful in other states.

If this legislation passes the full legislature and is signed into law by Gov. Inslee, Washington will join 48 other states in providing its own 529 defined contribution savings plan as an option for residents. Approval of this new savings option does not impact the state’s GET program. SB 6601 also provides a number of provisions designed to inform residents of how the two savings options can work together to provide a more robust college savings plan for families.

“We need to make it as easy as possible for residents of Washington to save money for college,” said Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, original co-sponsor of the bill. “This is a smart and simple proposal that will allow families to invest in their children’s future. As a result, our workforce will grow stronger, benefiting the state and the economy.”

Having passed the Senate with a unanimous vote, the bi-partisan bill (original sponsors included Sens. Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, and Braun, R-Centralia, along with Frockt and Mullet) now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 

E News- A collaborative effort

February 16th, 2016|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Too often down here in Olympia, when groups are on different sides of an issue, we see competing legislation offered from each side and then long, drawn-out arguments without resolution. Throughout my legislative career, I have worked hard to bring groups together to find compromises to the problems before us. It’s not easy, but it’s essential if we hope to solve our problems.

This session, I was proud to work closely with two groups that historically are at odds with each other — landlords and tenants. Throughout the summer, we met at my pizza shop in Issaquah and addressed all of their concerns, one by one. The result of this hard work was legislation that I sponsored this session that can help prospective renters and landlords at the same time. Yesterday, the bill, SB 6413, was passed off the Senate floor and now heads to the House for further consideration.

For landlords, the bill provides additional time after a tenant moves out to assess any damages to the rental unit and to calculate how much of the deposit should be returned to the tenant.

For renters, the bill requires landlords to publicly post whether or not they accept a reusable tenant screening report. If they do allow reusable screening reports, they would not be able to charge for additional background checks. It would also prevent screening reports from listing an eviction on a tenant’s credit report if the eviction has been overturned or resolved.

The costs associated with shopping for a new place to live keep rising and can break the bank for many families looking for a new home. This bill will provide financial relief for apartment hunters as well as eliminate hurdles for people who have been evicted in the past.

This bill is the result of a good faith effort from both sides of the landlord-tenant relationship and is an example of what can happen when we set aside our differences and work together.

Sincerely,

Mullet_sig

Mullet’s comprehensive landlord-tenant bill passes Senate

February 15th, 2016|

OLYMPIA – Prospective renters would save money during the rental application process and landlords would gain additional time to return rental deposits, under legislation sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah.

“This bill brings two groups together that are historically at odds with each other,” said Mullet. “Throughout my legislative career, I have tried hard to bring groups together to find a compromise to the problems they are facing. This bill is the result of a good faith effort from both sides of the landlord-tenant relationship.”

The bill is unique in that it addresses concerns raised by both tenants and landlords.

For landlords, the bill would provide additional time after the tenant moves out to assess any damages to the rental unit and to calculate how much of the deposit should be returned to the former tenant. For renters, the bill requires landlords to publicly post whether or not they accept a reusable tenant screening report. If they do allow reusable screening reports, they would not be able to charge for additional background checks.

It would also prevent screening reports from listing an eviction on a tenant’s credit report if the eviction has been overturned or resolved.

“The costs associated with shopping for a new place to live are beginning to get out of hand and can sometimes break the bank for families looking for a new home,” said Mullet. “I’m confident that this bill will provide some financial relief for apartment hunters as well as eliminate hurdles for people who have been evicted in the past.”

E News- This is not the way our state should be managed

February 9th, 2016|

Dear friends and family,

Last Friday, without any warning, the Senate Republicans voted not to confirm Lynn Peterson, the head of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Essentially, they fired her. This was the first time since our State was founded in 1889 that the Senate has exercised its right to fire a cabinet head.

For me, this was a blatantly obvious political spectacle and not the way our state should be managed. During floor debate, the Republicans claimed that the DOT has been mismanaged and used I-405 toll lanes and Bertha as proof for Ms. Peterson needing to be let go. I agree with many of the concerns raised about these projects. But what leaves a bad taste in my mouth is how the Senate Republicans went about the process of dismissing Ms. Peterson.

Just six months ago at Ms. Peterson’s confirmation hearing, the Republican chair of the Senate Transportation committee praised Ms. Peterson and her staff. He again echoed these comments in a hearing in January. Never once was Ms. Peterson told by the Senate that she wasn’t doing a good job or given feedback about what they now say they felt she should improve at the DOT.

As a small business owner, this isn’t how I would handle the situation. If an employee of mine is underperforming, I sit them down and identify what they are doing wrong and what they can do to improve. If they don’t meet these standards in a reasonable and understood amount of time, I let them go. I do this because I need to maintain credibility and reputation. No one is going to work for my business if they think they could be fired on a Friday afternoon without being given a reason, much less a fair chance to improve their performance in specific areas that I clearly identify. Arbitrarily firing someone without warning and without allowing them the chance to defend themselves is poor management and bad business.

The night after all this happened, I found it hard to sleep. I was and still am worried about how we are going to recruit outstanding individuals to be cabinet heads in the state of Washington. Why would anyone want to work somewhere where they could be subject to such embarrassing treatment? Would you want to work in a place like that?

As you know, I came to Olympia not to serve a particular party or agenda but to fight for what our community needs, period — and to stand up for what’s right.  What happened last Friday afternoon in Olympia was wrong. I look forward to working with my colleagues during the last five weeks of session to make sure we return to governing the State of Washington, not doing political stunts that make it harder for us to recruit and retain talented public servants.

Sincerely,

Mullet_sig

 

Senate honors Tahoma’s ‘We the People’ team

February 3rd, 2016|

OLYMPIA- Today, Tahoma High School’s state champion “We the People” team was honored by the Washington State Senate with a resolution sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah and Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn.

Last month, the Tahoma team won the state “We the People” competition marking the team’s 20th state championship. In April, the team will represent the state of Washington at the 29th anniversary “We the People” Finals in Washington D.C.

“This team is becoming somewhat of a dynasty,” said Mullet. “This is a group that just continues to keep winning. Every year, I am impressed by these students’ level of knowledge of our country’s founding documents and principles. Secretly, I am always a little intimidated by their vast understanding of civics.”

“One of my favorite things to do each year is join Senator Mullet and the students in the Senate gallery to have an open discussion about issues facing our state and country,” said Fain, who previously served as a judge for the local competition.

“We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” is a national civics education program that has had more than 28 million student participants since the program’s creation in 1987.

E News- Make local levies a part of the solution

February 3rd, 2016|

Dear friends and neighbors,

During the recession, lawmakers temporarily hiked the amount of money schools could raise through property tax levies so that school districts could survive possible statewide funding cuts. This temporary increase is set to expire at the end of August 2017, posing a serious problem for school districts that rely on local levies to pay for teachers and extracurricular programs.

In the short term, I support extending this deadline out another year so school districts won’t lose their much-relied on local levy funds and can plan their upcoming budgets with some certainty.

However, in the long run, more needs to be done to support schools, like those in the 5th Legislative District, that benefit from local levies.

The Supreme Court has called for the Legislature to drastically reform the way our schools are funded, especially in regard to reliance on local levies. I firmly believe that local levies are a crucial and important part of how we fund our schools. If a local community wants to put more money into its schools, it should have the right to do so and the state shouldn’t stand in its way.

Voters in the 5th District have consistently approved local school levies. As a result, we have some of the best teachers in the state, outstanding graduation rates and state-of-the-art facilities. Let’s get creative and find a way to make local levies a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.

Sincerely,

Mullet_sig