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

Monthly Archives: February 2018

E News – The Legislative Public Records Act

February 28th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors,

This week, you may have heard a lot of discussion about public records and Senate Bill 6617.

The bill isn’t perfect and I regret that more time wasn’t set aside for public input. But I voted for it to protect the right of my constituents to share opinions with me or reach out for help without having to worry that this information will be released indiscriminately or even used against them.

Since 1972, it has widely been understood that Washington’s public disclosure laws do not apply to legislators. But media organizations filed suit using a novel theory and a judge made a ruling last month that is unworkable and potentially harmful.

The ruling would open information you share with me to corporations, political parties and anyone else who wants it. Constituents regularly write to me about issues dealing with domestic violence, mental health, issues with their children and personal medical issues. I am adamantly opposed to those messages being open to public records requests.

No constituent should fear that a message they send to me may end up in some blog or on the front page of some newspaper. How is it good for democracy if constituents are fearful of writing to their representatives in government?

In order to balance these concerns with the need for real transparency, we passed Senate Bill 6617. It may not go as far as some would like, but I feel that it strikes a responsible compromise.

Constituents who have contacted me on this issue have said their main concern is distrust of interactions between lobbyists and legislators, and “backroom deals.” But the public discussion has lost sight of the fact that Senate Bill 6617 will open all communication between legislators and lobbyists to public disclosure.

It’s important to note that this is the first time in the history of Washington’s Legislature that this much information will be readily accessible to the public.

Going forward, the bill ensures that legislators’ contacts with lobbyists will be public, while contacts with constituents will stay private. I believe that it will go a long way towards easing concerns about inappropriate interactions or efforts by legislators or lobbyists in Olympia.

To illustrate my commitment to transparency, I encourage you to call my office (360 786 7608) anytime you have questions about what is happening in Olympia. That includes who I meet with and why I voted a certain way. As my constituent, you will always have a right to open and honest answers from me.

All my best,

Ban on credit freeze fees clears Legislature

February 23rd, 2018|

OLYMPIA – A bill to eliminate the fees that credit bureaus charge customers who want to freeze their credit reports to protect their personal information is headed to the governor following passage yesterday by the House of Representatives.

The House voted 81-15 in favor of Senate Bill 6018. Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, sponsored the bill in response to the Equifax database hack last summer that exposed the private information of more than 143 million Americans.

The bill, which the Senate approved in January by a vote of 46-2, now needs only Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature.

“This bill is an important, bipartisan consumer protection measure that will make it easier for people to protect themselves and their identities without financial penalties,” Mullet, who chairs the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee, said. “Consumers whose sensitive financial data has been exposed through no fault of their own shouldn’t have to pay to protect their credit ratings.”

Senate Bill 6018 received strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House. Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, who chairs the House State Government, Elections & Information Technology Committee and had sponsored a similar bill, helped shepherd Senate Bill 6018 through the House.

“I don’t think it is right that consumers are paying to protect their data when credit agencies are the ones making that data vulnerable,” Hudgins said. “This measure will ensure that all Washingtonians can protect their identities by freezing their credit without paying a fee to do so. It’s the right thing to do.”

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.

In addition to eliminating credit freeze fees, the bill requires the state to conduct a study on its impact on consumers and credit reporting agencies.

E News – Passing a record number of bills with bipartisan support

February 20th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors,

I’m happy to report that this year more of my bills have been passed off the Senate floor than in any other year that I’ve been in the Legislature. As I emphasized in recent town hall meetings with my Republican counterparts, that’s because I’m working with Republicans and Democrats in a bipartisan fashion.

Seven bills that I sponsored this year passed with strong bipartisan support and are now before the House:

Left to right, Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie, and Rep. Paul Graves, R-Fall City, during a town hall meeting in Issaquah on Feb. 17, 2018.

-Ban on Credit Freeze Fees: SB 6018 eliminates credit bureaus’ fees to freeze your credit reports to protect your personal info. Passed 46-2.

Allow GET holders to share in investment returns: SB 6087 lets participants in Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program directly share in recent investment gains, giving them a larger return on investment in the program. Passed 43-3.

College credit for high school students: SB 5917 requires colleges and universities to develop a policy to give high school students who pass International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International exams college credit. Passed 48-0.

Supporting paraeducators and training requirements: SB 6388 passed 46-1.

Improving how we regulate our financial service sector: SB 6024 passed 46-0.

Letting our local housing authorities continue to invest in affordable housing: SB 6371 passed 44-2.

Creating an easier system for the State Treasurer to replace lost checks: SB 6311 passed 47-0.

In related news, the Senate is now considering HB 2948, Rep. Paul Graves’ House version of my bill to save Maple Valley money by making sure the state continues to pay to maintain SR 169 and SR 516.

Thank you again to everyone who attended our recent Town Halls in Maple Valley, Issaquah and North Bend! I appreciate your feedback.

Best regards,

  • Permalink Gallery

    Senate votes to expand secondary students’ ability to earn college credits

Senate votes to expand secondary students’ ability to earn college credits

February 14th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – High school students would gain more ways to earn college credit before they arrive at a higher education institution in Washington under a bill unanimously passed today by the Senate.

Senate Bill 5917, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, would require higher education institutions to establish a policy for granting college credit to students who receive passing grades on International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International exams, and to post that policy on their websites.

The bill builds on legislation that Gov. Jay Inslee signed last year requiring colleges and universities to establish a similar policy for students who pass Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

“Like the AP program, these programs are a great way for high school students to obtain college credits and accelerated placement,” Mullet said. “But even someone with a PhD in math would be hard-pressed to figure out what credits are accepted or how many, because rules vary from school to school and even program to program.

“Passing an IB or Cambridge International course in Biology, for example, should mean you don’t have to retake Biology in college. This bill helps create an easy-to-understand system, saving students and their families time and money in pursuing a degree.”

The bill would require higher education institutions to establish “a coordinated, evidence-based policy for granting as many undergraduate college credits as possible and practical” to students who score a minimum score of 4 on a standard-level IB exam or a minimum score of E on a Cambridge International exam.

IB exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 the highest possible mark. Cambridge International exams are scored on a scale of A to E, with A representing the highest mark and E the minimum required passing score.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Bill to let GET unit holders share in returns passes Senate

February 13th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The Senate today passed a bipartisan bill to let participants in Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program directly share in unanticipated investment gains that the program has experienced in recent years.

Senate Bill 6087, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, would return those gains to GET account holders, giving them three months to redeem units for the cash value and roll the amount into Washington’s new 529 college savings program.

“State policy led to an unplanned surplus, but that money belongs to Washington families and so does any gain on it,” Mullet said. “We should give it back to those families and give them the flexibility to make the choices about saving for higher education that work best for them, especially because doing so won’t cost the state any money.”

The GET program allows households to purchase the cost of college tuition at today’s prices to ensure families can afford college, even if the cost of tuition increases in the future. The state then invests those funds in order to cover the actual cost of tuition for GET holders when students 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 about $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 more than $14,000.

Under Senate Bill 6087, GET account holders would have three months to redeem units for what they are actually worth and to roll that amount into the 529 college savings program, which works like a 401(k) retirement-savings plan.

The bill, which passed 43-3, now goes to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

5th District lawmakers to host town halls on Feb. 17

February 8th, 2018|

Who:
• State Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah
• State Rep. Paul Graves, R-Fall City
• State Rep. Jay Rodne, R-Snoqualmie

What: Town hall meetings

WhenSaturday, Feb. 17

Where:
• 10 – 11 a.m.                  Maple Valley Community Center, 22010 SE 248th St, Maple Valley
• 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.      Blakely Hall, 2550 NE Park Dr, Issaquah
• 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.         North Bend Library, 115 E 4th St, North Bend

Why: Lawmakers representing the 5th Legislative District will come together in a bipartisan forum to speak with you in person about issues that are important to our communities. Topics of discussion will include:
• Education and taxes
• Transportation
• Other local issues

Senate honors Tahoma High’s ‘We the People’ team

February 7th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate today honored Tahoma High School’s “We the People” team with a resolution sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, and Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, in recognition of the school’s 22nd state championship.

“Since I was elected in 2012, I’ve had the honor of introducing a resolution each year recognizing teams from Tahoma High,” Mullet said. “I’m continually impressed by their dedication and enthusiasm. This is a great program that increases civic participation and strengthens democracy, and we couldn’t be prouder of their achievements.”

The team will represent the state of Washington later this spring at the 31st annual “We the People” Finals in Washington D.C. Tahoma’s team has advanced to the finals’ top 10 in four of the last six years and in 2015 the team finished fourth in the nation.

“Year after year I am amazed by the dedication and passion of these Tahoma students and teachers,” Fain, who represents Covington in the Senate and previously served as a judge for the We the People competition, said. “The critical-thinking skills they are developing and practicing in this program will be an asset throughout the rest of their academic career and in life.”

“We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” is a national civics education program. More than 28 million students have participated in the program since its creation in 1987.

Students honored this year in the resolution include Andrew Bruneel, Daria Cawthorn, Melia Cleary, Jack Duggan, Bridget Duven, Hannah Fitzpatrick, Breanna Glover, Cameron Hanson, Alexander Hessler, Jeffrey Hostetter, Jamison Hubbard, Dakota Huffman, Nassim Kazemi, Henry Kombol, Hannah Molnar, Aliyah Musaliar, Aurora Pompeo, Rhiannon Rasaretnam, Jaden Rayl, Samantha Schroff, Kyler VandenBosch, Riley Wilmart and Katarina Zosel.

Mullet said that he was pressing to include an appropriation for civic education in a supplemental budget this year in order to help future classes travel to the annual finals in Washington D.C.

E News – Meeting our duty to fund K-12 education

February 6th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors,

As many of you know, The Washington State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the state has unconstitutionally left it to local school districts, through local levies, to cover much of the cost of a basic education.

Even though some school districts had sufficient funding when local levies were accounted for, the court said those levies do not qualify as “reliable sources” of funding under the state constitution. As a result, Democrats and Republicans came together last year to support a compromise bill to fund education at the state level. It essentially increased the state property tax rates and reduced local levy rates.

However, the court ruled in November that the changes come a year too late. Instead, the court said, they need to be made by Sept. 1, meaning that the Legislature would need to dedicate another $1 billion to education funding this year.

If the Legislature were to provide local districts with an additional $1 billion, it would amount to a double dipping of taxpayer money. I don’t think it’s right for taxpayers to get hit with high local levies and a new statewide property tax increase and have schools get an additional $1 billion on top of those already high taxes. If the state can muster up $1 billion in this budget, it should be going to tax relief.

In order to comply with the court’s latest ruling, I introduced Senate Bill 6525. It would give districts that meet certain budget, transparency and accounting requirements state funding for higher salaries starting this fall. In exchange, those districts would be required to reduce local levies to offset the amount received. Taxpayers would see some relief on their 2018 property tax bills and school districts’ annual budgets would remain consistent, rather than spiking tax rates in the 2018-19 school year before sharply declining.

A bipartisan mix of 26 senators – more than enough to pass the bill if it went for a vote – have signed on as co-sponsors.

Best regards,