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

Sen. Mullet Newsroom

E News – 2020 Legislative Session Update

Dear friends and neighbors,

With this year’s short legislative session already in full swing, I’ve been hard at work turning your feedback into policy that helps improve our communities. Here are a couple examples of bills before the Senate this year that resulted from conversations with constituents like you:

  • Exempting electric boat motors from sales tax: gas-powered boat motors don’t just pollute the air – they also pollute our water, so I’ve sponsored a bill to create an incentive for boat owners to switch to electric motors. Encouraging that switch benefits small businesses that produce and sell electric motors, saves taxpayer money in pollution cleanup costs, and helps the environment. This bill idea came from two constituents in North Bend who own a small electric motor business.

  • Getting vehicles carrying organs for transplant through traffic: unlike ambulances, vehicles that transport organs to be used in transplants aren’t allowed to use emergency lights or sirens to get through traffic. Transplants are extremely time-sensitive, so organs are often transported by helicopter – an expensive alternative. My bill lets organ transport vehicles use emergency lights and sirens, helping to save lives and lower health care costs. This bill came from someone who used to serve our community at the Issaquah Police Department.

My primary focus when weighing legislation is how it will impact people who live and work in our communities. I welcome feedback and ideas for legislation, so please don’t hesitate to write, call, or visit my office to share your thoughts.

Best regards,

January 24th, 2020|E-News|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Senate approves Mullet bill to expand access to retirement plans

Senate approves Mullet bill to expand access to retirement plans

OLYMPIA – The Washington Senate voted 26-20 today to approve legislation that would provide Washington State employees who have previously not had access to retirement plans an easier option going forward.

Senate Bill 5740, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), gives employers the opportunity to auto-enroll employees in a new state sponsored account, or to continue enrolling them in pre-existing retirement programs. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) would be offered at no additional cost to the employer.

Employers would have the option to withhold a portion of each employee’s earnings from each paycheck and invest it in an IRA available to the employee upon retirement. Employees who do not want to participate could opt out at any time. Businesses that have fewer than five employees or have been in existence for fewer than five years would be exempt.

“Right now, we are facing a societal problem where there are far too many people in our state who can’t live off of what they save from working,” said Mullet, who chairs the Senate Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade Committee. “This bill would give a sense of security to many Washingtonians who have not had the option to save for retirement in the past and would benefit both employees and employers.”

The bill also would allow the state to partner with Oregon, which already has a similar auto-enroll plan, to avoid spending some $10 million to develop its own program.

“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,” Mullet said. “Everyone in our state deserves the dignity that comes from financial security in retirement.”

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

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For information: Courtney James, Democratic Caucus Communications, (360)-786-7853

January 17th, 2020|News Release|

E News – 2020 Legislative Session

Dear friends and neighbors,

As we begin the 2020 legislative session, I want to remind people that my loyalty is with the 5th District and the people I represent in Olympia — not political parties or special-interest groups. It is my top priority that the people in our communities are represented and heard. Given the diversity of opinions in our district, I will always aim to support bipartisan legislation. Some of the top priorities I have this session include:

  • Secure Choice Retirement: Last session I sponsored a bill that would give more people access to simple and affordable options for retirement savings. Our state must do a better job of helping people save for retirement so we can ensure Washington seniors are financially secure without relying as heavily on state support. Although it didn’t pass in the House last year, this session I am working to move the bill forward quickly.
  • Highway 18 Construction Projects: The SR18/I-90 interchange project remains on schedule and an additional temporary westbound ramp is now open in Snoqualmie. Fortunately, this project was not impacted by funding losses from Initiative 976. However, several projects in the district are now in limbo pending the outcome of a court case challenging the legality of the initiative. Regardless of the outcome of that case, I plan to advocate for those projects and continue to keep pressure on my fellow lawmakers to fund the widening and completion of Highway 18 over Tiger Mountain. Fixing this deadly stretch of highway is my top transportation priority.
  • Free Dual Credit for High School Students: I am sponsoring legislation that will remove fees paid by high school students and their families for Running Start programs, College in the Classroom programs, and AP, IB and Cambridge tests. These amazing programs should be free for students to access. Removing financial barriers to academic excellence
    is a no-brainer. Many students in our district utilize these great programs and I hope I can save their families a few hundred dollars.

The most important work we do here in Olympia is writing legislation that works for everyone. In the coming weeks, I’ll be discussing construction projects in the 5th District, project budgets for the year, and many other important topics.

Best regards,

January 16th, 2020|E-News|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Mullet encourages students to apply to be a Washington Senate page

Mullet encourages students to apply to be a Washington Senate page

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.

December 13th, 2019|Uncategorized|

E News – 2019 Session Wrap-Up

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,

May 9th, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|

E News – 2019 Budget Update

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,

May 1st, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|

E News – 2019 Legislative Update

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,

April 19th, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|

E News – Lifting the Local Levy Lid

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,

April 11th, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|

E News – 2019-21 State Budgets

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,

April 4th, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Mullet responds to inaccurate reports on amendment to levy lid bill

Mullet responds to inaccurate reports on amendment to levy lid bill

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.

April 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|