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

Monthly Archives: February 2019

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

February 27th, 2019|

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. Mona Das (D-Kent) in recognition of the school’s 23rd state championship.

“Every year, I’m impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm of the Tahoma High team and its coach, and their record of excellence,” Mullet said. “It’s great to see students excel in a program that increases civic participation and strengthens democracy. The critical-thinking skills this program develops will serve them well in their academic career and in life.”

“This is an amazing accomplishment, and we should all be so proud of these students,” Das said. “Now more than ever, civics education is immensely important. These students are a shining example of the success a public school education can offer.”

The Tahoma High School team won the state “We the People” competition on Jan. 12, notching the school’s 10th consecutive state championship and its 23rd state championship in the last 25 years. The team will represent the state of Washington later this spring at the 32nd annual “We the People” national finals in Washington D.C. Tahoma’s team has advanced to the final’s top 10 in five of the last seven years.

“We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” is a national civics education program. More than 30 million students and 75,000 educators have participated in the program since its creation in 1987.

Students honored this year in the resolution include Leah Billings, Hitesh Boinpally, Jeremiah Briere, Mahek Buddhdeo, Jacob Burianek, Aidan Callen, Victoria Chung, Melinda Day, Emily DeBolt, Elizabeth Diaz, Drew Fleming, Jacquelyn Gaither, Joshua Hren, Makenna Kilgallon, Gabriel Kilwein, Madeleine Magana, Sierra Muehlbauer, Estelle Neathery, Madeline Nielsen, Emma Percival, Laura Pierson, Joseph Ribera, Christina Ring, Briana Rogers, Eric Rogers, Laena Tieng, Adam Wengreen and Anika Wilson.

E News – Daylight Saving Time

February 25th, 2019|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last November, California voters expressed a preference to end the annual switch to Daylight Saving Time.

I’ve been seeking to give Washingtonians a similar vote so the federal government can hear our voice. Unfortunately, my bill to let Washington voters weigh in isn’t moving forward, but two other bills are.

Senate Bill 5139 would move Washington to permanent daylight savings time once Congress passes a law letting states do so. House Bill 1196 would make a similar move, but send the question to Washington voters as a referendum at the next general election.

Sometimes there are fights in Olympia over whose bill goes forward. But my focus is on good public policy. As President Harry S. Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

I think a vote of the people sends a stronger message to the federal government than a vote of the Legislature. The House bill matches up exactly with the bill that I initially introduced and my goal is to include a public vote in the Senate bill so that our constituents have the chance to weigh in.

As we heard from the satiric television program Last Week Tonight with John Oliver during a hearing on the bills last week, Daylight Saving Time doesn’t actually benefit anyone. It doesn’t lower our energy bills, it doesn’t improve our health and it doesn’t help our farmers.

In fact, a recent report by the Washington State Board of Health on the impact of moving to permanent Daylight Saving Time found “strong evidence” that ending the annual switch would improve peoples’ health, especially in the days that normally follow the transition.

It’s important that we put pressure on Oregon to weigh in like California did and send a message to the federal government that it needs to consider moving the entire west coast to permanent Daylight Saving Time. Either of these bills would be a step in the right direction.

Please reach out to my office if you have any questions or comments about these bills.

Best regards,

E News – Increasing Housing Affordability

February 19th, 2019|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As you know, making sure that Washingtonians have access to affordable housing and addressing our region’s homelessness crisis is a major challenge. This session, I’m working to address those issues in two ways.

The first is through a bill before the Senate Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade Committee, which I chair, that addresses when a landlord asks someone renting month-to-month to leave. Under current law, the renter has just 20 days to pack up and find new housing. As a small business owner, I know from talking to my staff that 20 days isn’t enough time for such a consequential life change. I believe requiring 50 days is more reasonable for tenants.

My role as committee chair is to bring both sides together to improve renters’ quality of life without creating burdensome hurdles for landlords, so I’m working with both groups to develop language that everyone can support.

The second way I’m working to address these issues is through my role as part of the team negotiating our state’s capital construction budget.
I’m currently working on a proposal to expand the state’s commitment to build affordable housing through a public-private matching grant program. A matching program is a great way to encourage more private sector investment. It also would give local businesses an incentive to help fund programs that have been proven to be successful and to play an active role in improving their communities.

Making sure that all Washingtonians have access to housing will take hard work. But if we think creatively to find results-driven solutions, and if we work collaboratively with the business community to ensure that those solutions work for all concerned, I know that we can meet that challenge.

Best regards,

E News – Making Saving for Retirement Easier

February 12th, 2019|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Last week, the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade, which I chair, held a hearing on my bill giving employees easier access to retirement plans.

Helping Washingtonians save for retirement has been a top priority since I was elected. But far too many of our workers approaching retirement haven’t been able to save enough and too many Washingtonians still don’t have access to a retirement plan at work.

A big part of that is the cost. As a small business owner, I know from talking to my own staff that if I can’t offer them an affordable program, they can’t save.

We started to address that in 2015 with my bill creating the Small Business Retirement Marketplace, which gives small business owners and individuals a simple way to shop for state-verified, low-fee retirement savings plans.

But too few employers are offering their employees retirement plans. So this session I introduced a bill to require employers, at no cost to them, to automatically enroll their employees in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) plan run by the Department of Commerce.

A portion of each employee’s earnings would be withheld from each paycheck and invested in an IRA, which employees would get back when they retire.

Any employees who don’t want to participate could simply opt out and do something else with their money.

The bill also would allow us to partner with Oregon, which already has a similar auto-enroll plan, so that we don’t have to spend $10 million to reinvent the wheel setting up our own program.

As your senator, I’m always on the lookout for more cost-effective ways for government to function and this bill lets us do that in a way that will benefit all Washingtonians.

If you have any questions or comments about this bill or anything else happening in Olympia, I encourage you to reach out to my office. I and my 146 fellow legislators work for you.

Best regards,

E News – Weighing Success in Olympia

February 1st, 2019|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As your senator, I know that passing bills isn’t the only measure of success in Olympia.

Sometimes, it’s just the opposite: killing bad bills.

We saw that in the last week, when a proposal that would have prohibited booth rental arrangements for hair salons was dropped amid concerns it might jeopardize hairdressers’ livelihood.

I opposed that proposal and let the sponsor of the bill know that this bill was a solution looking for a problem. I was extremely pleased when the chair of the committee considering the bill and the bill’s sponsor agreed yesterday to officially declare the bill dead and withdraw it from further consideration.

Other times, we don’t need a bill at all – we can deliver results working with the community.

That happened recently when the governing body for our state’s high school sports, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, promised to vote early next year on making lacrosse an official sport for girls and boys. I’ve been pressing the association to approve it in order to expand access to a popular sport so all kids can play lacrosse at the same cost their families would pay for them to participate in other sports.

Finally, sometimes success is letting you, the voter, decide directly.

Initiative I-200 was passed in 1998 and voters chose to bar state or local governments from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to individuals or groups based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Early this year, proponents of an initiative to change I-200 said they had enough signatures to put it before the Legislature and, if lawmakers don’t approve the new initiative, back in front of the voters in November. Many people are now saying that the Legislature should adopt the new initiative, but my opinion is that voters passed I-200 back in 1998 and it should be up to them to make that decision, not the Legislature.

Another issue is considering the move to daylight saving time on a permanent basis. My Senate Bill 5250 would send this to the voters in November so Washington residents can have a direct say in what message we want to send to the federal government about our preference. California voters supported a similar idea in 2018 and I think Washington voters should be allowed to weigh in on the same issue.

No matter how we do it, I’m proud to be able to deliver good public policy and I pledge to always put the needs of our community above partisan politics.

Best regards,