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

E-News

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,

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,

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,

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,