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

Sen. Mullet Newsroom

E News – Making Saving for Retirement Easier

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,

February 12th, 2019|Uncategorized|

E News – Weighing Success in Olympia

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,

February 1st, 2019|Uncategorized|

E News – 2018 Updates & Communities in Action

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,

January 24th, 2019|Uncategorized|

E News – 2019 Legislative Session

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,

January 18th, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Sen. Mullet pledges to focus on jobs, small businesses in leadership posts

Sen. Mullet pledges to focus on jobs, small businesses in leadership posts

RENTON – Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) today pledged to continue working to create jobs, help small businesses thrive and give families and individuals the opportunity to succeed after he was chosen to chair the newly configured Senate Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade Committee.

“As a small business owner with a background in finance, I know how important balance and an equal playing field are for small businesses and their employees,” said Mullet, who chaired the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee during the 2018 legislative session. “The decisions we make on finance, trade and development have to be prudent and fiscally responsible. I’m extremely honored to be able to serve in this role and make sure we do that for the people of Washington.”

Senate Democrats also named Mullet their new whip, which will move him up in the leadership ranks when lawmakers return to Olympia in January for the 2019 legislative session. The post carries responsibility for mobilizing votes on key issues.

In addition to his new duties, Mullet will continue serving on the Senate Ways & Means Committee, where he will be part of the team negotiating the state’s construction budget, and on the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

Senate Democrats announced Mullet’s new committee assignments today following a vote in which they elected the most diverse leadership team in the history of the Washington State Legislature.

November 28th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Mullet dispels reports of I-90/SR18 interchange construction delay

OLYMPIA – Recent reports that the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is delaying construction of a new interchange at State Route 18 and Interstate 90 are incorrect, Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, said today in an email to constituents.

Mullet disputed reports that WSDOT’s current project timetable, which anticipates construction from 2021 to 2023, broke an alleged commitment to start and finish work sooner.

“Unfortunately, stories are circulating that WSDOT promised last year that work would run from 2019 to 2022,” Mullet said. “They seem to accuse the department of trying to slip a delay past without us noticing. But that’s not true.”

The 2017 Transportation Budget accelerated access to $150 million to start the process of building the new interchange right away, instead of waiting until 2023. That budget also included funds to widen State Route 18 between Interstate 90 and Deep Creek.

WSDOT began work on the new interchange last year, seeking a design consultant, which it selected in December. Earlier this year it started to conduct the necessary community engagement, environmental review and design process. In May, WSDOT announced that construction would run from 2021 to 2023, a timeline that the department said still stands.

Mullet said that some initial rough estimates may have been misinterpreted and he emphasized that no official timeline was set or given until May.

“It wouldn’t have made much sense to do so earlier, before WSDOT determined how to build the interchange and who would help do that,” he said. “And a start date of 2019 wouldn’t have given WSDOT enough time to do the necessary preliminary work to make sure the project is done right.”

WSDOT has acknowledged that its process selecting a design consultant took slightly longer than anticipated, leading to a delay of about two months last year as things got started. But that delay is reflected in the 2021 to 2023 timeline.

“Keeping traffic moving is a priority and I understand the urgent need for this project,” Mullet said. “Anyone who travels this section of I-90 knows how maddening and potentially dangerous the gridlock and traffic can be. But it’s important that we address it the right way and that the new interchange meets our community’s needs.”

Mullet also noted that another project adding lanes to I-90 between Issaquah and Bellevue is still on schedule, with construction set to start next year.

September 17th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Mullet calls on Seattle to drop ‘head tax’ proposal

OLYMPIA – Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, today called on the Seattle City Council to drop a proposal to tax large employers in the city to fund homeless services and affordable housing, citing the potential harm to job creation in Seattle and beyond, and warning that the plan could draw a response from Olympia.

The call came one day after online retail giant Amazon announced a halt to its expansion in downtown Seattle until the City Council votes on the proposed “head tax.” Supporters say the proposed tax of 26 cents per employee, per hour would target about three percent of businesses in the city, raising an estimated $75 million in the next year.

But Mullet – chair of the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee, which oversees aspects of housing regulation – said he disagreed with a plan that would “tax employers for providing jobs for Washington residents” and which he said would send the wrong message.

“Our committee goal is to send a message to the world that the public sector in Washington State will partner with the private sector if you are willing to set up business in our state and help create jobs,” he said. “The goal of attracting more jobs is too important to risk having a local municipality send the opposite message.”

Mullet agreed that more needs to be done to meet the ongoing crisis of affordable housing and homelessness across Washington. But he said the proposal’s benefits had to be weighed against the damage it could do – including the potential loss of thousands of jobs.

“Washington State, King County and Seattle have already dramatically increased funding and created new laws that help move people into permanent housing,” he said. “I know I speak for many of my colleagues when I say that more needs to and will be done to address homelessness at the state level. However, taxes can be an effective way to create disincentives in our economy. What message does Seattle send to companies by taxing the jobs they create in the city?”

Mullet predicted that the harm would not be limited to Seattle. As the owner of small businesses in King County, including a local pizza restaurant and ice cream stores, he said he could personally attest to the importance to the local economy of large employers that would be hit by the tax. He estimated that employees of companies like Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, T-Mobile and Starbucks, and their families, made up about half of his customers.

He also cautioned that adoption of the proposed tax could lead to action in the Legislature.

“It is these sort of local actions that often require a state-wide legislative policy fix to make sure that the message to the world is consistent,” Mullet said. “We want people to set up shop in Washington and employ our residents. If they do, we’ll reward them, not penalize them through a head tax on employment.”

May 3rd, 2018|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    State should pay to mail in ballots, says pair of King County senators

State should pay to mail in ballots, says pair of King County senators

OLYMPIA – With Washington voters having cast their ballots through the mail since 2011, Sens. Joe Fain and Mark Mullet said today that the state should pay for postage to increase voter participation and reduce any confusion or barriers to participating in elections.

The two lawmakers from King County drafted legislation this month that they intend to file ahead of the 2019 legislative session.

“Voting is a critically important right and our state has an interest in removing barriers that keep people from exercising that right,” said Fain, R-Auburn, who has worked on election reform and proposals to expand voter access while a member of the state Senate. “Whether it is the cost or fact that many don’t keep stamps at home in an increasingly paperless society, this is one way to simplify the process and encourage people to participate in our self-government.”

While many states offer some sort of mail-in voting, Washington is one of only three to use all mail-in voting, in which elections are conducted entirely by mail. However, Washington voters are responsible for affixing postage to the ballot before sending it to their county election office.

“Seeing the increased voter participation in Maple Valley as part of a King County pilot project has convinced me that we need this to be a statewide effort, hence my support of this legislation,” Mullet, D-Issaquah, said.

King County, which has conducted elections by mail since 2009, before the practice was adopted statewide, has recently been exploring and testing the use of pre-paid postage in local special elections.

“While both a well-intentioned and effective way to boost turnout, if more affluent cities or counties are the only jurisdictions to provide postage-free ballots, lower-income voters in other parts of the state could be disenfranchised,” Fain said. “We shouldn’t try to restrict those efforts. Instead we should make them unnecessary by expanding access for all voters.”

April 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|

E News – 2018 Legislative Update

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,

April 6th, 2018|E-News, Uncategorized|

E News – 2018 Budget Accomplishments

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,

March 14th, 2018|E-News, Uncategorized|