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

Monthly Archives: March 2018

E News – 2018 Budget Accomplishments

March 14th, 2018|

Dear friends,

We were able to accomplish a lot during this year’s short, 60-day session. In addition to passing a wide range of bills improving the quality of life in our communities, we finished on time and passed operating, construction and transportation budgets.

Gov. Inslee signs Engrossed Senate Bill No. 6018, March 13, 2018. Relating to consumer reporting agency security freezes. Primary Sponsor: Mark Mullet

The operating budget provides $391 million in property tax relief, while fully funding K-12 education. It also directs funding to mental health care and college financial aid. Notably, it doesn’t raise or add any new taxes.

The construction budget includes funding to open a Teen Café in Issaquah – where teens can gather to explore creative interests in a safe place and access counseling and mental health services – and to build a playground in Maple Valley’s Summit Park.

It also contains funding to further improve Lake Sammamish State Park, help Eastside Fire & Rescue remove industrial chemicals from our groundwater, and expand and enhance Sandy Cove Park in historic Snoqualmie.

That all comes on top of a larger $4.2 billion construction package approved in January that included funding for projects in every community in the 5th Legislative District.

The transportation budget includes funding for design work so we can get reasonable cost estimates to widen S.R. 18 to four lanes from Issaquah-Hobart Rd to I-90.

Moving forward, Gov. Inslee has already signed two of my bills: one banning credit freeze fees (SB 6018) and another creating an easier system for the State Treasurer to replace lost checks (SB 6311). Five others are still awaiting his signature. I’ll have a full report on them for you in the coming weeks.

All my best,

Governor signs bill banning credit freeze fees

March 13th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee today signed 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 Equifax database hack last summer that exposed the private information of more than 143 million Americans.

“This important, bipartisan consumer protection measure 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.”

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.

“It’s not right to charge these fees when people are simply trying to protect their personal data from online theft,” 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.”

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.

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. As a result, those who freeze and unfreeze reports with all three major agencies can actually face some $60 in fees.

Senate approves $400 million statewide property tax cut

March 7th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The Senate today approved an approximately $400 million property tax cut, giving homeowners a break on their 2019 tax bill to offset the large increase in this year’s taxes that was passed in 2017 to fund K-12 education.

Senate Bill 6614, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, would use some $400 million in projected revenue from Washington’s booming economy to roll back about 40 percent of this year’s state property tax increase while continuing to fully fund K-12 education.

Specifically, it reduces the state property tax rate in 2019 by 30 cents, from $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed value to $2.40.

The 2018 tax increase resulted from a compromise deal lawmakers made last year to address the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling that the state unconstitutionally passed its responsibility to fund K-12 education on to local school districts. The deal essentially increased the state property tax rate starting in 2018 and reduced local levy rates starting in 2019, leaving taxpayers on the hook to pay both this year.

“If we had known last year what we learned last month – that projected revenue is much greater than expected – we would have waited to increase the state rate and decrease local rates at the same time, instead of putting so much on taxpayers in 2018,” Mullet said. “This bill is an attempt to return a portion of the 2018 property tax increase back to the residents of Washington.”

Mullet said he would have preferred to apply the cut to this year’s property tax bills. But doing so would be complicated, he said, given that bills due in April have already been sent to taxpayers. He also noted that some 70,000 Washingtonians have already paid their 2018 bill in full and Washington’s constitution bars the state from giving them a refund.

The Senate approved the bill 25-23. It now goes to the House of Representatives.

E News – More investment in our community

March 6th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors,

As we near the end of the 2018 legislative session, I’m pleased that the Senate has approved supplemental operating, transportation and construction budgets to fund vital projects and services across Washington.

Funding will go to:

  • Open a Teen Café in Issaquah, where teens can gather to explore creative interests in a safe place and access counseling and mental health services
  • Build a playground in Maple Valley’s Summit Park
  • Further improve Lake Sammamish State Park
  • Help Eastside Fire & Rescue in removing industrial chemicals from our groundwater
  • Expand and enhance Sandy Cove Park in historic Snoqualmie

Working to make sure our community gets its fair share of support and investment is one of the most important responsibilities I have as a senator.

* * *

In other news, I also want to give you an update on public records and Senate Bill 6617, which I wrote about last week.

On Thursday, there was a breakthrough. The Seattle Times and the Associated Press, which had sued seeking public records, agreed to put their case on hold. In exchange, lawmakers promised to work with advocates and the media to strike a balance in the 2019 session allowing the release of legislative records.

The agreement means that constituent correspondence will remain private for the time being and it removes the risk that a judge’s ruling could force me to turn over letters or emails from constituents.

Constituent privacy has always been my number one concern. Knowing that the case is on hold made me comfortable in asking the governor to veto the bill.

Going forward, I pledge to support balance in public records disclosure to keep constituents’ information private while ensuring transparency in our interactions with lobbyists.

All my best,