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Sen. Mullet Newsroom

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    Senate passes Mullet bill expanding employee access to retirement plans

Senate passes Mullet bill expanding employee access to retirement plans

OLYMPIA – The Washington Senate today voted 31-17 to approve legislation to provide employees in Washington who are not offered retirement benefits through their work easier access to retirement plans.

Senate Bill 5740, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), requires certain employers to automatically enroll, at no cost, their employees in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) in the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program run by the Department of Commerce.

Employers would withhold a portion of each employee’s earnings from each paycheck to be invested in an IRA available to employees when they retire. Employees who do not want to participate could simply opt out. Businesses that have fewer than five employees or which are less than five years old would be exempt.

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 set up its own program.

“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,” said Mullet, who chairs the Senate Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade Committee. “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.”

March 8th, 2019|Uncategorized|
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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

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,

March 5th, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|

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

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate today honored Tahoma High School’s “We the People” team with a resolution sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) and Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) in recognition of the school’s 23rd state championship.

“Every year, I’m impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm of the Tahoma High team and its coach, and their record of excellence,” Mullet said. “It’s great to see students excel in a program that increases civic participation and strengthens democracy. The critical-thinking skills this program develops will serve them well in their academic career and in life.”

“This is an amazing accomplishment, and we should all be so proud of these students,” Das said. “Now more than ever, civics education is immensely important. These students are a shining example of the success a public school education can offer.”

The Tahoma High School team won the state “We the People” competition on Jan. 12, notching the school’s 10th consecutive state championship and its 23rd state championship in the last 25 years. The team will represent the state of Washington later this spring at the 32nd annual “We the People” national finals in Washington D.C. Tahoma’s team has advanced to the final’s top 10 in five of the last seven years.

“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.

Students honored this year in the resolution include Leah Billings, Hitesh Boinpally, Jeremiah Briere, Mahek Buddhdeo, Jacob Burianek, Aidan Callen, Victoria Chung, Melinda Day, Emily DeBolt, Elizabeth Diaz, Drew Fleming, Jacquelyn Gaither, Joshua Hren, Makenna Kilgallon, Gabriel Kilwein, Madeleine Magana, Sierra Muehlbauer, Estelle Neathery, Madeline Nielsen, Emma Percival, Laura Pierson, Joseph Ribera, Christina Ring, Briana Rogers, Eric Rogers, Laena Tieng, Adam Wengreen and Anika Wilson.

February 27th, 2019|Uncategorized|

E News – Daylight Saving Time

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,

February 25th, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|

E News – Increasing Housing Affordability

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,

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

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|E-News, 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|E-News, 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|E-News, 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|
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    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|