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

Monthly Archives: January 2018

E News – Making higher education more affordable

January 31st, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors,

As a parent and small business owner, I know the importance of preparing our children for the future and the essential role of higher education in that process. I also know how expensive and challenging this can be for middle-class households.

That’s why I sponsored two bills this legislative session to help make higher education more affordable and to give families the flexibility they need to make the choices about preparing and saving for higher education that work best for them.

Shared returns for holders of GET units

Senate Bill 6087 would make changes to Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program to allow holders of GET accounts to directly share in investment gains that the program experienced in recent years.

The GET program allows families to purchase the cost of college tuition at today’s prices to ensure families can afford college even when tuition increases in the future. The state then invests those funds so they can afford to cover the cost of college tuition for GET holders when their kids start college. The value of a GET unit has not changed in the past six years because the state has frozen tuition.

Currently, 100 GET units is equal to $10,386, enough to send a student to college for a year. However, the state currently has a surplus in the GET investment fund that would mean 100 GET credits is worth $14,400 or an extra 40 GET units. Under this bill GET account holders would have six months to redeem units for what they are actually worth and to roll that amount into Washington’s new 529 college savings program, which works like a 401(k) retirement-savings plan.

Put another way, we can offer families in our state that invested in GET a 40 percent return on the money they invested. Additionally, it likely won’t cost the state a dime.

College credits for international baccalaureate exams

Senate Bill 5917 would require higher education institutions to establish a policy for granting college credit to students who receive passing grades on international baccalaureate exams.

Like the Advanced Placement (AP) Program, the International Baccalaureate Program is a great way for high school students to obtain college credits and accelerated placement in college, saving themselves and their families time and money in pursuing a degree.

But even someone with a PhD in math would be hard pressed to figure out which schools accept those credits or how much, given that the minimum score needed to earn credit can vary from school to school and, sometimes, even from program to program within an institution.

Senate Bill 5917 helps ensure that a student who passes an IB exam will receive college credit. It also forces the public universities to create an easy to understand system for high school students explaining which IB classes will count for a course equivalent credit. For example, passing an IB course in Biology should mean you don’t have to retake Biology in college.

Both bills will be under consideration in the coming weeks. It’s my hope that both will help students pursuing higher education and their families save time and money and, ultimately, help make higher education more affordable for middle-class households in our district and across our state.

Best regards,

E News – State construction budget approved

January 23rd, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors,

As your senator, my goal is to make sure that our community benefits from the hard-earned tax dollars you send to Olympia. I spend every day of the Legislative Session explaining the needs of our community to my fellow elected officials and building relationships so we can bring that money back where it came from.

Last week, lawmakers in Olympia took a major step forward, passing a long-overdue $4.2 billion construction budget funding vital infrastructure projects around the state like public schools, colleges and universities, parks and environmental projects.

I’m extremely pleased that every city in our local community has something to look forward to.

Carnation gains state funds to revitalize downtown and create a vibrant business district so residents can access small business services in their own community, and to attract tourists visiting Remlinger Farms to drive the extra two minutes to Carnation and support our local merchants;

Black Diamond gains funds to cover the cost of rebuilding Black Diamond Elementary School;

Maple Valley gains funds to construct a new memorial honoring our veterans and their service;

Issaquah gains funds to build a bridge over the creek in Confluence Park;

North Bend gains funds to rehabilitate the historic Tollgate Farmhouse;

Falls City gains funds to upgrade wastewater infrastructure; and

Snoqualmie gains funds to enhance the Northwest Railway Museum.

At a regional level, we provided an additional $5.3 million in state funds to continue our quest to make Lake Sammamish State Park a crown jewel of the Washington State Parks system.

I’m ecstatic about this construction budget because it makes sure that our hard-earned tax dollars are used for projects in our community, as opposed to subsidizing projects in other areas of the state.

Now that we have passed the budget, we will be shifting our focus to identifying projects to include in a 2018 supplemental construction budget and building bipartisan support so that our community gets its fair share of support and investment.

Best regards,

Senate approves ban on credit freeze fees

January 18th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The Senate today approved a bill to eliminate the fees that credit bureaus charge customers who want to freeze their credit reports to protect their personal information.

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, sponsored Senate Bill 6018 in response to the major Equifax database hack last summer that exposed the private information of more than 143 million Americans.

“Consumers whose sensitive financial data has been exposed through no fault of their own shouldn’t have to pay to protect their credit ratings,” Mullet said. “I’m pleased that we’re taking real steps to help people protect themselves and their personal information by removing undue financial penalties.”

Following the Equifax hack, consumer watchdogs recommended that customers request credit freezes from credit reporting agencies to ensure that the stolen information could not be exploited. A freeze blocks access to a credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts using stolen data.

Credit reporting agencies charge Washington residents $10 to temporarily freeze their credit reports. But a consumer who needs to unfreeze the account to generate the credit report necessary to buy a car, take out a mortgage or open a bank account must pay the fee again to each agency, meaning that those who freeze and unfreeze reports with all three major agencies actually face some $60 in fees.

Mullet said that he would now urge the House of Representatives to pass the bill in a timely fashion to speed up the timeline of giving consumers relief from credit freeze fees.

E News – 2018 Legislative session

January 18th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Serving in the majority in the Washington Senate this Legislative Session presents a unique opportunity to promote common-sense policies to benefit our communities in the 5th Legislative District as well as people across the state. During this year’s short, 60-day session, I plan to focus on three such measures.

Senate Bill 6018 eliminates the fees credit bureaus charge customers to freeze their credit reports to protect their personal information. This bill was approved by the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions & Insurance earlier this week. It will soon move to the Senate floor for a vote of the whole Senate.

Senate Bill 6087 would allow holders of Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) accounts to directly share in investment gains in the program in recent years. This bill would give people six months to redeem GET units for their actual cash value (35 percent more than current value) and roll that amount into Washington’s new 529-college savings program.

I have been working for months as a key negotiator on passing a long-delayed $4.2 billion Capital Budget. Senate Democrats made passage of this badly needed and long-overdue budget our top priority in the opening days of session, and I am optimistic that we will be able to pass it in the next few days.

This session, I am now the Chair of the Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee, presiding over meetings to consider legislation on insurance company practices, rates and solvency; credit unions; consumer credit and lending; securities and investments; and landlord-tenant and housing issues.

In addition to the Education and Health Care committees that I sit on, I am a new member of the powerful Ways & Means Committee that deals with budget and spending issues.

This session, I am now the Chair of the Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee, presiding over meetings to consider legislation on insurance company practices, rates and solvency; credit unions; consumer credit and lending; securities and investments; and landlord-tenant and housing issues.

In addition to the Education and Health Care committees that I sit on, I am a new member of the powerful Ways & Means Committee that deals with budget and spending issues.

Despite the challenges of a short 60-day session, I am mindful of the incredible potential for action that it presents and the profound duty to use that power responsibly. As I do so, I pledge to always put you and our communities’ needs first.

Best regards,

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    Upcoming hearing: Rollover of GET credits into college savings program

Upcoming hearing: Rollover of GET credits into college savings program

January 15th, 2018|

WHAT: The Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will hear legislation creating a means for holders of Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) accounts to directly share in investment gains that the program experienced in recent years.

WHEN: 8 a.m. Tuesday in Senate Hearing Room 2, Cherberg Building

WATCH IT LIVE: https://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2018011168

SUMMARY:

  • The GET program helps families save and prepare for their children’s higher education needs. Families can purchase individual units valued at 1/100th of the cost of one year of college tuition and fees that are guaranteed to keep pace with tuition and state-mandated fees at Washington’s highest-priced public university.
  • Funds generated through the sale of GET units are invested by the state acting as fiduciary, but state policy in recent years unintentionally led to greater-than-anticipated gains. GET units currently are valued at $103.86 per unit in tuition value. However, when funds on hand are compared against the GET program’s obligations, the actual cash value of an individual GET unit is approximately $144.
  • Senate Bill 6087, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, would return those gains to GET account holders, giving them six months to redeem units for the cash value and roll the amount into Washington’s 529 college savings program.
  • A hypothetical family that opts to redeem 100 GET units for the cash value would be able to roll nearly $14,400 into Washington’s 529 college savings program, directly realizing some $4,014 in gains.

QUOTE:

  • Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah: “State policy led to an unplanned surplus in the GET program, but that money belongs to Washington families and so does any gain realized on it. We should give those returns back to those families and give them the flexibility they need to make the choices about saving for higher education that work best for them.”

Senate committee passes bill to ban credit freeze fees

January 11th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – A bill passed today by the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee would eliminate the fees that credit bureaus charge customers who want to freeze their credit reports to protect their personal information.

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, the committee’s chair, sponsored Senate Bill 6018 in response to the major Equifax database hack last summer that exposed the private information of more than 143 million Americans.

“This bill is an important, bipartisan consumer protection measure that I’m hoping will pass out of the Senate very soon,” Mullet said. “Washington residents can’t afford a delay and need this problem solved.”

Following the Equifax hack, consumer watchdogs recommended that customers request a “credit freeze” from credit reporting agencies to ensure that the stolen information could not be exploited. A freeze blocks access to a credit report, which makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts using stolen data.

Credit reporting agencies charge Washington residents $10 to temporarily freeze their credit reports. But a consumer who needs to unfreeze the account to generate the credit report necessary to buy a car, take out a mortgage or open a bank account must pay the fee again to each agency, meaning that those who freeze and unfreeze reports with all three major agencies actually face some $60 in fees.

“Consumers whose sensitive financial data has been exposed through no fault of their own should not have to pay to protect their credit rating,” Mullet said. “These high-profile, cyber security threats have created a lot of fear, but I’m confident that my bill will make it easier for people to protect themselves and their identities without financial penalties.”

Mullet noted that the bill is one of his top priorities for the 2018 legislative session, which began this week, and he said that he plans to continue pushing for it to be passed and signed into law quickly.