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Miloscia packs more clout in Olympia

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

This could be the year people in Olympia sit up and listen to Rep. Mark Miloscia.

The Democrat from Federal Way is not the freshman he was before, and he’s learned the ropes in Olympia well enough to start guiding his teams. And what he’s learned most acutely is that persistence pays.

His performance audit bill, which he introduced in 1998 and which finally passed, albeit in a limited form, last year, did better than anticipated — enough so that Governor Gary Locke met with Miloscia last week to discuss how to better implement it statewide.

“The governor’s office is very interested now in what I’m doing,” he said. “It’s good to have his office aware of the project and wanting to be part of it..”

But with the excitement of drafting groundbreaking legislation — and getting it passed — comes a lot of pressing hands, making phone calls and currying enough favor to take it to the next level: passage in a full form.

“I’ve been spending a significant amount of time doing that,” Miloscia said. “I’ve been meeting with everyone and their brother to audit all levels of government. We’re looking for efficiencies, improving services and everything having to do with tax dollars.”

He anticipates some resistance to broad state auditing legislation, but said the outcome would benefit state residents.

“Change gets resistance, no matter what is is,” he said. “If we’d started this four years ago, this budget deficit would be a lot smaller.”

Miloscia’s audits are intended to grade state government agencies on how well their management practices work, on how well they conduct their own audits, on customer satisfaction, fiscal productivity and efficiency, and on regulatory and procedural compliance, among other things.

In addition to working on performance audits, Miloscia, like his 30th District colleagues, is looking for a better solution to siting secured sex predator halfway housing.

The state Department of Social and Health Services announced last December that Peasley Canyon was one of three sites in King County for a secured facility where sex offenders who served their sentences could live during their transition phase back to normal society.

Miloscia said he plans to attend meetings to convince DSHS to pick a better spot for the facility and said legislation already has been proposed to address the issue.

This year, Miloscia will serve as vice chairman of the State Government Committee. He’ll also sit on the Appropriations and Children and Family Services committees.

Miloscia said he will have his hands full this session with the combination of crafting a workable state budget, pushing for more performance audits and finding a better place to put a sex offender halfway house.

But there are good people in Olympia this year, he said, and as long as they come to the table willing to work together, they’ll do the job they were elected to do.

“There aren’t the personality issues (this year). The people involved are at least reasonable,” he said. “The thing is to get a budget passed.”

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