This week was fiscal cutoff week which means bills that cost money had to clear their fiscal committee by Tuesday April 4th to stay alive. In the House, that mostly means the Appropriations committee. In the Senate, it comes down to Transportation and Ways & Means committees.
One of our Top 6 hit a snag, but most of our bills need to clear Ways & Means this round as they’ve already passed the House. Others have been gutted. This is that time of year where advocates weigh killing the bills they’ve worked so hard on or getting them across the finish line as mutilated shadows of themselves.
Why live like this?
🤑 Keeping Up with the NIMBYs 🤑
Let’s start with a story: It’s late spring 2020. Remember that? Some of us are inside playing board games and watching the death toll in our communities hit alarming numbers. Some of us are at work at our essential jobs—stressed out, hoping the mask and hand sanitizer are working. Some of us are losing loved ones. The grief and fear are enormous. What is Senator Mark Mullet (D-5) doing during this once-in-a-century public health crisis? He’s watching workers put in a $80k swimming pool his 8,670-square-foot $3M home—despite the hold on all non-mandatory construction. We’ll give you a cookie if you can guess what the kind of workers. Incredible, disconnected, cruel stuff.
That story gives a little glimpse into Mullet’s values. And those values have been on full display this week—including where some of our Top 6 are concerned.
Sen. Mullet is the Vice-Chair of the Ways & Means committee. Remember how the fiscal committees have outsized power over what lives and dies at the legislature? Well, the Senate fiscal committee—Ways & Means—is stacked with white dudes who ride the socially liberal, fiscally responsible Democratic brand into office only to turn around and kill, gut, and otherwise undermine anything that might meaningfully make life easier for Black and brown communities. If that sounds pretty racist to you, that’s because it is!
Mullet is a major hurdle for many progressive priorities. This week alone, Mullet voted against the Washington Voting Rights Act—the only Democrat to do so! Mullet is terrified of a progressive primary challenger, so he’s not stoked about ensuring folks of color in our state get their voices heard. We’re not totally clear on what held up the Independent Prosecutors bill in Ways & Means but it’s a safe bet that Mullet was involved. For him, the only problem with police is that there aren’t more of them guarding his gated community.
Mullet was the chief architect of changes to the Middle Housing bill that ensures his tidy, white enclave—the absolute wealthiest in our state (and others that aspire to that level of disconnect)—don’t have to integrate affordable housing or transportation into their communities. The only working-class people who get to hang out in his backyard, after all, are the ones risking their lives to build his kids’ pool! Mullet and other Democrats in Ways & Means insisted there were two choices: 1) the housing bill dies or 2) wealthy communities don’t have to become accessible, environmentally friendly, and one drop rule more diverse. We hope the bill moves forward because the housing crisis is utterly unbearable—which Mullet knows and is leveraging—but we’re really really sick and tired of legislators passing policy that doesn’t treat wealthy folks as the problem and excuses them from participating in solutions.
Mullet is one of those people who don’t like people—especially people of color. He’s one of those legislators who is seemingly uninterested in using his position to make life better for the people of his state—at least the ones who don’t live in his neighborhood. Another person who doesn’t like and trust people in Ways & Means? Senator Kevin Van De Wege (D-24). He voted this week against 1181, the climate change bill. He’s a likely collaborator with Mullet on gutting the housing bill and a consistent holdup on all things progressive revenue.
The roadkill caucus and the problem children it spawned in Ways & Means leave us debating every year whether to advance the bills we’ve worked hard on that have been gutted and twisted, sometimes beyond recognition, or to kill them because they won’t do what we need them to do. These walking man-thumbs whose politics are as dated as Reagan-era hairstyles are why, time and again, we can’t seem to have nice things.
What do you think? Have any questions? Tweet us your thoughts @WACommAlliance.
Keep up on the action and opportunities to get involved through our legislative newsletter, The Tally.