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

Sen. Mullet Newsroom

E News – Moving Beyond Landfills

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,

March 28th, 2019|E-News, Uncategorized|

E News – Town Halls Recap

Dear friends and neighbors,

Last Saturday, I joined Rep. Bill Ramos and Rep. Lisa Callan for a series of town hall meetings in Maple Valley, Issaquah and North Bend.

It was great to be able to see so many people from our communities and to be able to hear from them directly. We discussed a number of issues that are important to our communities, so I wanted to recap some of the main topics briefly for anyone who wasn’t able to be there.

Environment: early this month, the Senate passed a bill to commit the state’s electrical utilities to 100 percent clean energy from renewable and zero-emission sources by 2045. The goal is to make sure that when Puget Sound Energy stops accepting electricity from the coal-fired Colstrip power plant in Montana, we don’t just shift to another type of dirty energy.

Importantly, the bill makes sure that customers’ rates don’t increase more than two percent in any year. We want to replace coal, which is going away as an energy source, but we want to do so without exploding your utility bill, so we’re spreading it out over 25 years.

Property tax relief: the Senate unanimously passed a bill to help keep low-income seniors, individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans from being priced out of their homes by property tax increases that result from rising home prices.

Vaccines: the current Measles outbreak is a stark reminder of the importance of vaccination. I support eliminating the philosophical or personal objection that exempts children from receiving the vaccines required to attend school, but I would retain existing religious and medical exemptions.

Firearms safety: I support measures that focus on keeping guns out of the hands of people suffering from mental illness or who are involved in incidents of domestic violence.

School bonds: unfortunately, school districts looking for money to build new schools will still need a 60 percent supermajority to pass bond issues after a bill to lower that requirement to a simple majority failed.

I look forward to continuing to fight for our communities during the rest of this legislative session and I always welcome your thoughts on how we can best do that.

Best regards,

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

E News – Education Funding and Local Levies

Dear friends and neighbors,

I’m looking forward to joining Rep. Bill Ramos and Rep. Lisa Callan for our town hall meetings this Saturday, March 16 in Maple Valley, Issaquah and North Bend. I hope to see you there.

Mullet E News 031219

One topic I expect to address is education funding and the need to keep local property tax levy caps in place. Washington needs to invest more in special education. I’m advocating that the state amp up its support so we don’t have to rely on local levies to pay for it.

We already had a huge property tax increase last year to fund K-12 education, which left a lot of people with sticker shock. Fortunately, an increase in state revenues allowed the Legislature to pass my bill giving Washingtonians a $400 million property tax cut in 2019, but that was a one-time-only measure.

Experience has shown that when levy caps are lifted, local property taxes go up. But funding special education is the state’s obligation. Local communities shouldn’t have to pony up funds to cover that obligation, especially when they could be using those funds for other important projects.

Moving forward, we have to be diligent and responsible in making budget decisions. But I’m against more taxes, period. And I’m highly confident that Washington has enough revenue growth that we can fund our budget without imposing new taxes.

If you agree – or if you disagree – please make sure to join us on Saturday to let us know what you think about this and other key issues facing our communities.

Best regards,

March 13th, 2019|E-News|
  • Permalink Gallery

    Bill to increase volunteer firefighters’ pensions passes Senate

Bill to increase volunteer firefighters’ pensions passes Senate

OLYMPIA – Volunteer firefighters, emergency medical workers and law enforcement reserve officers in Washington would see an increase in their pensions under a bill the state Senate unanimously approved today.

Senate Bill 5829, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), increases the maximum monthly pension amount from $300 to $350.

“Volunteer firefighters and others play a vital role in maintaining public safety, especially in rural areas,” Mullet said. “But some communities are having trouble with recruitment. This increase is a long-overdue step to recognize and compensate individuals who perform an invaluable public service.”

March 11th, 2019|Uncategorized|
  • Permalink Gallery

    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|
  • Permalink Gallery

    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|