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

E-News

E News – Education Funding and Local Levies

March 13th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

I’m looking forward to joining Rep. Bill Ramos and Rep. Lisa Callan for our town hall meetings this Saturday, March 16 in Maple Valley, Issaquah and North Bend. I hope to see you there.

Mullet E News 031219

One topic I expect to address is education funding and the need to keep local property tax levy caps in place. Washington needs to invest more in special education. I’m advocating that the state amp up its support so we don’t have to rely on local levies to pay for it.

We already had a huge property tax increase last year to fund K-12 education, which left a lot of people with sticker shock. Fortunately, an increase in state revenues allowed the Legislature to pass my bill giving Washingtonians a $400 million property tax cut in 2019, but that was a one-time-only measure.

Experience has shown that when levy caps are lifted, local property taxes go up. But funding special education is the state’s obligation. Local communities shouldn’t have to pony up funds to cover that obligation, especially when they could be using those funds for other important projects.

Moving forward, we have to be diligent and responsible in making budget decisions. But I’m against more taxes, period. And I’m highly confident that Washington has enough revenue growth that we can fund our budget without imposing new taxes.

If you agree – or if you disagree – please make sure to join us on Saturday to let us know what you think about this and other key issues facing our communities.

Best regards,

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    E News – 5th District Lawmakers to Host Town Halls on March 16

E News – 5th District Lawmakers to Host Town Halls on March 16

March 5th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Next week, your lawmakers representing the 5th Legislative District will come together for a series of town hall meetings on Saturday, March 16 to speak with you in person about issues that are important to our communities.

Topics of discussion will include education, taxes and transportation, as well as other local issues.

I hope that you can join me Rep. Bill Ramos and Rep. Lisa Callan at one of three meetings:

10 – 11 a.m.
Tahoma High School Performing Arts Center
23499 SE Tahoma Way, Maple Valley

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Blakely Hall at Issaquah Highlands
2550 NE Park Dr., Issaquah

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
North Bend Library
115 E 4th St., North Bend

I look forward to seeing you next week at the town halls.

Best regards,

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,

E News – 2018 Updates & Communities in Action

January 24th, 2019|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As a parent and small business owner, I know the importance of following through and making sure that the bills we pass in Olympia work as intended. So I want to give you a quick update on two of my priorities from the last legislative session.

-College credit for Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate/Cambridge International exams: in 2018, we passed a bill requiring higher education institutions to establish a policy to give students who pass these exams college credit. But the schools have dragged their feet, so I’ve dropped a new bill to make it clear – if you pass the test, you get credit.

-Shared returns for holders of GET units: Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program lets families purchase the cost of college tuition at today’s prices to ensure they can afford college even if tuition increases. Changes we made in 2018 allowing holders of GET accounts to directly share in the program’s investment gains in recent years sent some $230 million back to Washington families – the largest amount Washington has ever pushed out in one bill to help families with higher education costs.

I also want to share two examples of democracy in action in our communities:

Cedar Grove Composting: yesterday, Maple Hills residents testified against a bill in the House that would protect Cedar Grove from suits over its odor. We shouldn’t take away people’s right to sue over nuisances and I thank everyone who came to Olympia to speak out.

Maple Valley Bingo: the Greater Maple Valley Community Center operates bingo and other games to provide programs for seniors. Concerned citizens notified me that the cost of a gambling license exceeds the amount raised, threatening the programs’ existence, so I introduced a bill to exempt similar non-profits from the license requirement. That’s how the system is supposed to work – if a law isn’t working, change the law.

I’m proud to represent communities of people engaged in the democratic process and I encourage you to reach out to my office with your ideas for bills. If you see an area where a law is creating problems rather than solving them, we’re always willing to work with you to fix it.

Best,

E News – 2019 Legislative Session

January 18th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

The 2019 legislative session opened this week. As your senator, I want to share a brief update on some of my priorities this session:

SR 18 & I-90 Interchange: the project remains on schedule and I’m working to secure funding to make highway 18 four lanes all the way to Issaquah Road.

Small Business Retirement Marketplace: I’m working to make sure employees have easier access to retirement plans by partnering with Oregon to lower costs.

Daylight Savings Referendum: Californians recently expressed a preference to end the annual switch. I want to give Washingtonians a similar vote so the federal government can hear our voice.

Prescription Drug Transparency: I want to make drug prices transparent at every step of the process to drive down high costs that burden both consumers and the state. This issue is as important to you in managing your finances as it is to us in managing the state’s budget.

I also want to reaffirm that no matter the balance of power, my goal is always to craft policy that both Democrats and Republicans can support. Our communities are comprised of people from both parties and it’s my top priority to produce legislation that works for everyone.

Best regards,

E News – 2018 Legislative Update

April 6th, 2018|

Dear friends and neighbors,

In my last newsletter, I shared information about the operating, construction and transportation budgets that we passed this legislative session.

This week, I wanted to give you a final update you on the bills I sponsored that were signed into law.

• Property tax relief: Senate Bill 6641 cut property taxes by $391 million, giving homeowners a break on their 2019 tax bill to offset the large increase in this year’s taxes passed in 2017 to fund K-12 education.

• Ban on credit freeze fees: Senate Bill 6018 eliminates credit bureaus’ fees to freeze your credit reports to protect your personal info.

• Allow GET holders to share in investment returns: Senate Bill 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.

• College credit for high school students: Senate Bill 5917 requires colleges and universities to develop a policy to give college credit to high school students who pass International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International exams.

• Supporting paraeducators and training requirements: Senate Bill 6388.

• Improving how we regulate our financial service sector: Senate Bill 6024.

• Letting local housing authorities continue to invest in affordable housing: Senate Bill 6371.

• Creating an easier system for the State Treasurer to replace lost checks: Senate Bill 6311.

We also passed the House version of my bill to save Maple Valley money by making sure the state continues to pay to maintain S.R. 169 and S.R. 516 (House Bill 2948). Altogether, we accomplished a lot during this year’s short, 60-day session. In addition to passing my nine bills above, the Legislature made it easier for people to register to vote, fully funded K-12 educators’ salaries, made college more affordable and invested heavily in our mental health system.

I’m proud to have played a lead role in addressing some of the most complex, difficult and important public issues facing our state. I look forward to continuing to fight for our communities throughout this year and in the next legislative session, and I welcome your thoughts on how we can best do that.

All my best,

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,