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"Olympia Watch: The Mirror asks local legislators how, and where, things are going"

"State Rep. Mark Miloscia (D-Federal Way) knows government accountability doesn't perk people's interest the way traffic congestion does.But Miloscia is introducing four bills this year to try to give his main issue a hearing. He ran two years ago on a platform of trying to make government more accountable to the people. It's really tough. It's not glamorous like transportation, which everyone can relate to, Miloscia said. But that's what saves the money. My big problem is trying to get the visibility. There are very few people who want to get details.Miloscia serves as vice chairman of the State Government Committee and is a member of the Children and Family Services, Financial Institutions and Insurance, and Joint Legislative Audit committees.Longtime issues like balancing the protection of salmon with development will continue to be a frequent topic of conversation in Olympia. Transportation and the recent energy crisis will likely dominate this legislative session, and Miloscia believes enough bipartisan support exists on those issues to move forward.We're coming out with bipartisan solutions, he said.In contrast, Miloscia said he has got support from Republican representatives for his bills but isn't certain if he can obtain enough to push them through the House. Here are the four bills Miloscia hopes to push through, though some ultimately may be combined:* Citizens Alliance Bill (House Bill 1276): Miloscia is reintroducing this bill this year. The bill would create a citizens group that would provide feedback to the state of how to provide better service to Washingtonians. One thing the group would look at is how to best perform a state performance audit. Texas and Oregon have similar types of citizens groups; Oregon's is called Oregon Shines Vision.* Quality Management Bill: The bill would require that government meets organizational excellence standards similar to those many businesses must meet. Before you could say you have the Good Housekeeping seal of approval you have to say you meet certain standards, Miloscia said. * Contracting Bill: The state's approximately 150 departments, agencies and commissions have different policies for contracting out work. Miloscia wants the state to find out who does the best contracting in the country and copy their procedures, at a significant cost savings. We're not re-inventing anything, he said. Let's just copy what's best. Since we contract out 8 billion dollars a year, we need better oversight. * Statewide Performance Bill: This bill mandates an all-encompassing audit by independent outside experts. Miloscia said he sees too many audits that only look at a small portion of state government operations or that are quickly relegated to a garbage can or to a shelf to gather dust.The ongoing energy crunch hitting the west coast has Sen. Tracey Eide's attention. The 30th District Democrat said it's a major issue and she's asking the Washington State Senate to take a look at it.Eide last week introduced a bill to make energy-efficient lights, washers and dishwashers sales-tax free. Her proposal would apply to those appliances that meet the federal government's Energy Star standards for efficiency. Eide expects her bill to be reviewed soon in the Senate Environment, Energy and Water Committee.Energy prices have skyrocketed and supplies are tight, Eide said. People who conserve are helping us meet our energy needs and keeping costs down. Eliminating the sales tax on energy-efficient lights and appliances is good for consumers and good for our energy system.Eide said she is putting energy conservation to use in her own home by keeping the heater off and most of her house lights off.Also on Eide's agenda this session is advocating an air bag bill that would make it illegal for air bags in vehicles to be filled with anything other than air. Eide is also looking into the high numbers of multiple sclerosis in Washington she thinks are disproportionate to the rest of the country. We have some big challenges ahead of us, she said. It's just a matter of figuring out where we want to go. "

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