The Washington Coalition for Open Government recently announced it will honor state Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, with the organization’s Ballard-Thompson Award for 2017.
The award – named in honor of Clyde Ballard, former speaker of the House, and Alan Thompson, former senator and chief clerk of the House, who were both founding members of the coalition’s board of directors – is presented to a member or members of the state Legislature who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the cause of open government during the previous legislative session.
Miloscia and state Rep. Joan McBride, D-Kirkland, are being honored for their efforts to improve public agency performance and accountability in compliance with Washington’s Public Records Act through Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1594, according to an announcement.
Among other provisions, ESHB 1594 expands training requirements regarding retention and disclosure of electronic records; establishes a consultation program in the offices of the state archivist and the attorney general to assist local agencies in complying with the Public Records Act; establishes a grant program to help local governments acquire better technology for records retention, management and disclosure; requires agencies that handle a large volume of record requests to report on their performance and costs in handling those requests; and funds a study of the feasibility of creating a statewide online portal for public records requests that would help small agencies provide a level of service similar to larger agencies.
ESHB 1594 was one of two bills to emerge from a stakeholder process in 2016, in which legislators met with representatives of state and local agencies and of the records requester community to consider improvements to the Public Records Act.
“It’s difficult to achieve consensus on many of the bills affecting Washington’s Public Records Act because they would make accessing records more difficult in one way or another,” WCOG President Toby Nixon said in the announcement. “House Bill 1594, on the other hand, was entirely focused on improving agency performance and accountability, reducing costs and helping citizens access records more easily, and received broad support very early after introduction. WCOG is very pleased to have been an active participant in the stakeholder process and with the result achieved. We greatly appreciate the leadership of Rep. McBride and Sen. Miloscia in getting the bill through the process.”
The Ballard-Thompson Award will be presented to McBride and Miloscia at an event during the 2018 legislative session in Olympia, which will be announced later.