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E-news – Coronavirus resources

March 23rd, 2020|

Friends and neighbors,

We are living in uncertain times right now, and things are changing seemingly by the hour. Many of us are wary about where this pandemic is headed. It is important to remember, though, that government officials at all levels are working for you, and trying to alleviate some of the burden created. In the face of this crisis, we are making sure that people are put first. The human-level consequences of coronavirus are palpable and unprecedented in our modern world, and we are treating them as such.

Before the 2020 Session adjourned, the Legislature secured $200 million in funding to confront overall impacts of the coronavirus. This funding will aid with testing, monitoring, and support for local health departments. It will also go towards small businesses and employees by allocating millions towards an unemployment account. The Legislature also acted to:

  • ensure that the class of 2020 will still be able to graduate by adjusting credit requirements.
  • Reimburse nursing homes that aid in coronavirus response
  • Allow people receiving unemployment insurance to continue doing so, even if they can’t meet work search requirements
  • Support small business that rehire employees who had to go on unemployment insurance.

The federal government has also responded with a funding package of $8.3 billion, and $11.2 million of that will come directly to Washington. This weekend, the federal government declared a major disaster in Washington, meaning that some crisis counseling and emergency protective measures will become available. As this situation develops, Washington will continue to work with the federal government for more support.

All of these measures are evidence of your elected officials working to handle this crisis and its broad impacts. This is also apparent through Governor Inslee’s continuous updates. Of the recent addresses, Inslee has issued the following:

  • Restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreation facilities have temporarily closed with the exception of takeout and delivery services.
  • All Washington schools are now closed.
  • Public gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited throughout all of Washington state.
  • Gatherings of under 50 are also prohibited unless the criteria for public health and social distancing are met.
  • All elective surgeries have been halted in order to preserve supplies for healthcare workers at the front of the coronavirus response.
  • A moratorium on all evictions statewide for 30 days.

Each of these will work to protect public health and safety. Statewide agencies have also reacted to ease the impact of coronavirus. The Governor’s office has recently updated its website to include more up to date information. You can visit the site here, and find resources ranging from business and worker support to government emergency actions.

For more specifics about worker protections, see the image below.

Arguably the most important thing you can do to keep you and your loved ones safe during this crisis is to stay home and avoid leaving if at all possible. Practicing social distancing will work to slow the spread of coronavirus, and keep our vulnerable populations protected.

As the financial situation of the United States is also wavering, local lenders and landlords are doing their best to accommodate people in a variety of circumstances. If you anticipate that you will miss payments due to a lack of business or changes in your job security, I would encourage you to reach out to your building managers now.

For more information on financial assistance, visit this resource page provided by King County  Council.

I recently sent a letter to Governor Inslee’s office requesting a 30 day deferment of property taxes. Given the circumstances I am hopeful that his office will soon follow through on this request. After those 30 days are up, we will have to reevaluate either an extension or alternate methods.

If you have symptoms and do not have a doctor to call, you can call the King County coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977 or the Washington State Department of Health call center at 1-800-525-0127.

For comprehensive information for different groups, and for recent statistics, visit the most up-to-date website by Washington State at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Many of us are scared and nervous about how far this pandemic will go. Now more than ever is a time that we need to be listening to our friends and neighbors, and helping in whatever ways we can. This will impact each of us in different ways, but we must stay strong as a community.

Best regards,

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

February 26th, 2020|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate today honored Tahoma High School’s “We the People” team with a resolution celebrating the school’s 24th state championship in the last 26 years.

Sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) and Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), the resolution celebrated the school’s impressive legacy while team members looked on from the Senate gallery.

“Tahoma High’s team and coach continue to impress me with their commitment to leaving a legacy for our state, and this year has proven no differently,” said Mullet. “The ‘We the People’ program provides students with important lessons about civic engagement and participation. It’s great to see these students excel in a program that promotes important critical-thinking skills throughout life, all while strengthening our democracy.”

At the state “We the People” championship in January, Tahoma High edged out all competitors for the 12th consecutive year. The team will represent the state of Washington in the 33rd annual “We the People” national finals in Washington D.C. later this spring. Tahoma’s team has advanced to the final’s top 10 in six of the last eight years.

“I am awe-struck by the continued success of the Tahoma High School We the People team,” Wellman said. “This group of students is a great example for our entire state — adults and students alike — as we continue to discuss the importance of civics education in our classrooms.”

“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.

Along with coach Gretchen Wulfing, students honored this year include Riley Barlett, Dane Bowman-Weston, Katerina Bruhl, Matthew Bruneel, Neena Chana, Claire Cunningham, Grace Denison, Shelby Ellis, Djanaya Esiong, Issabella Huser, Sarah Kropelnicki, Preston Lievano, Jaden Mason, Aidan Mercado, Emma Nickel, Gage Nickel, Calvin O’Connell, Luke Oriolt, Daniela Perezechica-Trancoso, Claire Riordan, Elizabeth St. John, Jasmine Tran and Janey Yee.

  • Permalink Gallery

    Mullet encourages students to apply to be a Washington Senate page

Mullet encourages students to apply to be a Washington Senate page

December 13th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) encourages students in the 5th Legislative District to apply to serve as a page in the Washington State Senate during the 2020 legislative session.

The Washington State Legislature has one of the finest page programs in the country. Each year, hundreds of students from communities across the state spend a week taking part in the legislative process and observing the Legislature and other branches of state government in action.

The interactive learning experience includes classes focused on topics like budget writing and the lawmaking process, with pages ultimately creating their own bills in a mock committee setting. The educational experience is further bolstered by guest speakers.

Participants have the opportunity to work on the Senate floor and their maroon coats and credentials allow them access to all parts of the Capitol Campus.

Applications for participants in the page program are currently being accepted for the 2020 legislative session that begins Jan. 13. Applicants must be 14 to 16 years of age, have a parent/guardian’s permission and obtain a recommendation from a teacher and the applicant’s school principal.

Financial assistance is available to help offset the expense of traveling to and staying in Olympia for a five-day work week during the 60-day legislative session.

More information on the page program and how to apply is available on the Washington State Legislature’s website.

E News – 2019 Session Wrap-Up

May 9th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

In my last newsletter, I shared information about the operating, construction and transportation budgets that were passed this legislative session. This week, I wanted to give you a final update on the bills that I sponsored that the governor has signed into law.

SB 5278 makes it easier for consumers to report fraudulent use or theft of credit cards, allowing them to take quicker action to protect themselves.

SB 5410 ensures that passing scores on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge International exams receive college credit.

The governor also signed into law a number of other ideas that I championed that were included in bills sponsored by others:

HB 1196 sends a message telling Congress to let Washington and its neighbors stop the annual switch and stay on Daylight Saving Time year-round.

HB 1224 increases transparency to let people know what the prescription drugs that they need and pay for actually cost to make and distribute.

SB 5088, which I co-sponsored, requires all high schools to offer an elective computer science course by 2022.

SB 5334, which I also co-sponsored, encourages the development of condominiums by addressing current barriers to their expanded use as a supply of accessible homeownership opportunities.

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. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts on how we can best do that.

All my best,

E News – 2019 Budget Update

May 1st, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

We accomplished a lot during this year’s 105-day legislative session. In addition to passing a wide range of bills improving the quality of life in our communities, we finished on time and passed construction, transportation and operating budgets for the next two years.

I’m pleased that both the construction and transportation budgets had bipartisan support and that each one makes a number of significant investments in our communities.

Construction Budget – our infrastructure budget includes:

• $3 million to improve affordable, in-district health care options at the Issaquah Opportunity Center.

• $2 million for Encompass Northwest to build a facility in Snoqualmie to provide pediatric therapy and early learning services.

• $400,000 for a pilot project to clean up firefighting chemicals (PFAS) that have leached into drinking water.

• $412,000 to support the outdoor Snoqualmie Valley Youth Activities Center, which is open to the public.

• $113,000 to update interactive educational exhibits at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

• $102,000 to help construct a new memorial in Maple Valley honoring veterans.

• $200,000 to help make parking improvements at Lake Wilderness Park.

• $154,000 to lay the groundwork to build infrastructure and attract business investment at the legacy site in the heart of Maple Valley.

• $250,000 to strengthen the South Fork Snoqualmie Levee System, to reduce the duration of flooding in North Bend.

• $229,000 for the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie to restore the last surviving Puget Sound Electric Railway interurban.

Transportation Budget: the budget includes funding to keep the project to build a new interchange at State Route 18 and Interstate 90 on schedule to finish by 2023. It also includes $27 million in new funds to begin the design process to make SR 18 four lanes all the way to Issaquah-Hobart Road – the first phase of that project – in 2023.

Operating Budget: Unfortunately, the operating budget did not enjoy bipartisan support and relied too much on raising taxes. I agreed to raise taxes to support the wide-ranging transportation budget package in 2015, to support light rail in 2016 and to solve the McCleary lawsuit over K-12 education funding in 2017. But this year, it seemed we were raising taxes because we could, not because we needed to. I couldn’t support that, so I had to vote “no.”

Moving forward, a number of my bills and others that advance policies I advocated for are now on Gov. Inslee’s desk awaiting his signature. I’ll have another report on them for you in the coming weeks.

Best regards,

E News – 2019 Legislative Update

April 19th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

We’re entering the final stretch of the legislative session, as the Senate and the House finish negotiating operating, transportation and capital construction budgets for the next two years and wrap up remaining business. I’ll be providing a summary of the finalized budgets in the coming weeks, but for now I wanted to highlight some of the great bills that we’ve passed this session.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Inslee signed into law House Bill 1074, which raises the legal age to buy tobacco and vapor products to 21. The vast majority of daily smokers started smoking as a teen. But people who don’t start by age 21 are unlikely to ever do so, so the bill could potentially save thousands of lives.

Last week, the House passed Senate Bill 5116, requiring all electric utilities in Washington to move to a 100-percent, carbon-neutral electricity supply by 2030 and to 100-percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. The bill would make Washington one of the first states in the nation to commit broadly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electricity while adopting a precise action plan to do so.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed House Bill 1196 to put Washington on Daylight Saving Time year-round, once Congress passes a law letting states do so. Californians voted to show their preference to end the annual switch and Oregon is considering a similar measure. As we’ve seen, Daylight Saving Time doesn’t lower our energy bills, it doesn’t improve our health and it doesn’t help our farmers.

These are just a few examples – others include bills requiring prepaid postage on all ballot envelopes, protecting consumers from surprise charges for out-of-network health care, locking existing federal health care consumer protections in to state law, moving our presidential primary up to early March and giving tenants who fall behind on rent a better chance to get caught up.

As your senator, I’m proud to put the needs of our community above partisan politics and deliver good public policy. If you have any questions or comments about these bills or anything else happening in Olympia, I always encourage you to reach out to my office.

Best regards,

E News – Lifting the Local Levy Lid

April 11th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

You may have heard that teachers’ unions are criticizing me for trying to make sure that funds from local property tax levies support needed programs and services in our schools, like librarians and mental health counselors, and aren’t used to enhance teachers’ salaries paid by the state.

Senate Bill 5313 would partially lift caps on voter-approved school levies that were put in place as part of a legislative package to address the Washington Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in the McCleary case.

The court held that the state failed to adequately fund K-12 education and that this failure led school districts to over-rely on local levies to pay core operating expenses, like teachers’ salaries. Lawmakers responded in 2017 with more state funding for teachers’ salaries and, in exchange, we capped the local levies.

Since then, the teachers’ union and many school officials have demanded a change, arguing that more local money is needed for programs and services. But when I successfully pressed for an amendment to keep that money from being diverted back into boosting teachers’ salaries, the teachers’ union accused me of cutting teachers’ pay.

I strongly dispute that claim and you can read more about that in the Seattle Times and on my website.

But I wanted to reach out today to emphasize that I serve the people in our communities, not interest groups. I spend a lot of time talking to school districts, parents and others in our communities, and it’s clear that money raised locally is needed for programs and services like:

• Mental health counselors;
• More support staff, such as librarians and paraeducators;
• After-school programs for kids who need extra support; and
• Other extracurricular activities, like arts and athletic programs.

My goal is what’s good for our kids. The state took on an obligation to pay teachers’ salaries and it should do that. But it shouldn’t rely on local levies to pay teachers’ salaries – the problem that led to the McCleary lawsuit – unless that money is compensation for having done extra work.

It’s my job to find balance between endless property tax increases and what our schools need to fund the programs and services that teachers, parents and students deserve. As your senator, I’m going to support schools and kids, not interest groups, even when they happen to be the teachers’ union.

Best regards,

E News – 2019-21 State Budgets

April 4th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

It’s budget season in the capitol, when the Senate and the House negotiate on transportation, operating and capital construction budgets to fund vital projects and services across Washington in the next two years. I’m working hard to make sure that our communities benefit from the hard-earned tax dollars you send to Olympia.

Transportation Budget

Kudos are due to my new 5th Legislative District seatmates, Rep. Bill Ramos and Rep. Lisa Callan, who made sure that the House version included the initial funding to widen State Road 18 to four lanes over Tiger Mountain. As negotiations move forward, I’ll be working to keep those funds in the final version.

Operating Budget

The Senate version includes targeted support for the state’s behavioral health system, K-12 special education, higher education and the environment. I’m proud that it keeps the “We the People” civics education program at Tahoma High School funded and includes money to help the team travel to the national competition in Washington, D.C. if they win the state competition again.

I’m also pleased to note that the Senate version includes funds to help train more teachers in our schools on instructing students in financial literacy.

Capital Construction Budget

The Senate version contains investments in infrastructure to support behavioral health, affordable housing, education and other priorities. In our local communities, that includes funding to:

• Support the outdoor Snoqualmie Valley Youth Activities Center, a low- to no-cost outdoor meeting space between Snoqualmie and North Bend;

• Improve affordable, in-district health care options at the Issaquah Opportunity Center, to make sure everyone in the community has access to health care; and

• Help construct a new memorial in Maple Valley honoring our veterans and to make parking improvements at Lake Wilderness Park.

I spend every day of the Legislative Session explaining the needs of our community to my fellow elected officials and building relationships so we can bring your money back where it came from. If you ever have a question or concern, or an idea how we can do that better, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,

  • Permalink Gallery

    Mullet responds to inaccurate reports on amendment to levy lid bill

Mullet responds to inaccurate reports on amendment to levy lid bill

April 4th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Teachers’ salaries would not be cut and their rights to collectively bargain would not be restricted by legislation ensuring that school districts put money from additional local levy dollars toward needed services like librarians and counselors, Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) emphasized today.

Mullet spoke out to address what he said were inaccurate reports about his amendment to Senate Bill 5313, which the Senate Ways & Means Committee adopted at 1 a.m. Wednesday morning at the end of a lengthy meeting.

The bill would partially lift restrictions on voter-approved school levies that legislators put in place in 2017 as part of a package to address the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling in the long-running McCleary case that the state was failing its constitutional obligation to amply fund basic education in K-12 schools.

Lawmakers at the time responded to the court’s holding that the state’s failure led school districts to over-rely on local levies by increasing state funding for core operating expenses and capping the levies.

“The McCleary decision made clear that the state is constitutionally responsible for funding basic education, including teachers’ salaries,” Mullet said. “Senate Bill 5313 is an attempt to give districts that feel they need more money to adjust to this new system more access to local levy dollars. But we need to make sure local levy dollars are used to support staff, like librarians and nurses and counselors, and that we don’t go back to relying on local funds to pay teachers’ salaries, which would land us right back in court.”

Mullet’s amendment ensures that additional money from local levies would have to go to education programs and support services, but Mullet said under no circumstances would any teacher receive a pay cut. The amendment does allow local funds to go toward salary increases for extra work – like coaching athletes or leading extracurricular programs – or to compensate teachers for obtaining professional certification.

Mullet said his amendment does not limit teachers’ right to collectively bargain, but it does make clear that if local levy dollars are used to supplement the ample salary dollars provided by the state, then that supplemental money needs to be for compensation for extra work.

The amendment has drawn opposition from teachers unions, which withdrew support for the bill following the bipartisan vote adopting the amendment. But Mullet said that action demonstrated the need for the amendment.

“If the unions weren’t planning to rely on these local funds to pay teachers’ salaries – which was a huge problem in the McCleary case – why are they now trying to kill a bill that would give schools access to hundreds of millions of potential dollars to support programs and other staff?” he asked.

E News – Moving Beyond Landfills

March 28th, 2019|

Dear friends and neighbors,

Preserving Washington’s natural beauty is a top concern and our legislative agenda this year reflects that priority. From putting us on track to achieve 100 percent clean electricity by 2045, to electrifying transportation, to increasing energy efficiency in buildings and appliances, to reducing super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons, we’ve taken bold steps forward.

But one issue that we’ve only scratched the surface on is garbage. While we need to do more to reduce waste overall, we also need to realistically address what to do with the trash we continue to generate.

In King County, we’ve traditionally adopted one of two strategies: send our garbage by rail to a distant landfill, as Seattle does, or put it into a local landfill. But landfills leak toxins into the ground and our water, and the methane they emit is a far-more-damaging greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

A sensible alternative is waste-to-energy plants, which burn solid waste to create electricity. An EPA study last decade found that such plants are more environmentally friendly over their life cycle than landfills. Moreover, advances in technology have significantly reduced these facilities’ carbon emissions.

Even better, waste-to-energy plants can reduce the volume of garbage by about 90 percent and can even be used to get rid of the trash that’s already in landfills, helping undo damage already done.

The cost of building waste-to-energy plants may be more than local municipalities can handle, so I think the state needs to take a role in rethinking how we handle trash at a regional level. It wouldn’t be the first time: in the 1980s, we recognized waste-to-energy plants as a preferred alternative to aging landfills due to their waste reduction capacity and the State Legislature invested $60 million to help Spokane build one.

As you may have heard, the King County Council is considering a plan to extend the life of the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill between Renton and Maple Valley until 2040, despite past promises to stop accepting garbage in 2028. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

Instead of doubling down on rapidly dwindling landfill space and kicking the can down the road in the hopes that a solution presents itself, it’s time that the Legislature starts looking at alternatives and making smart investments in a sustainable future.

Best regards,