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It's been my honor to serve you.
Today I bid you farewell in this last e-newsletter as State Representative for the 81st District. I have a few updates for you below, but wanted to share a few closing words with you as my term comes to an end.

When I entered this role, I never imagined how difficult the decisions would be. Being a good Representative means that you can’t just settle in to your own preconceived notions and rely on your own life experiences. Instead, you must take the time to listen to all perspectives, educate yourself on the issues, and collaborate with people very different from you. That’s a true challenge for any person – especially when there are compelling arguments on all sides. But I’m so proud to have represented a district diverse in opinions with so many people willing to share their input. Public service isn’t really service without getting input from the people who you serve – and your feedback and input has truly guided my decision-making as your representative. We may not always have agreed, but I always valued your feedback.

Too often, we are discouraged with government and politics. There are many challenges and problems in our State, and that shouldn’t go understated. But I’ve learned from my experience in our state legislature that everyone can make a difference. No one has a monopoly on good ideas. No one person, no one organization, and no one political party. We can’t change the world overnight, but we can help to take small steps to make things better. And compounding enough of the small steps will allow us to realize big change. Thanks to much bipartisan collaboration, I’m proud to have passed 19 bills though the House of Representatives in my tenure with 15 of them becoming the law of the land. These have been good pieces of legislation that make our State better – taking steps toward more efficient, effective and responsive government. I hope to continue to see those small but important steps taken to turn our State around and I’ll certainly be doing what I can to help as an involved resident. 

To close, I want to thank the many people who have supported me over these years. Thank you to amazing House staff who have supported my colleagues and me day in and day out. A particular thank you to Lynn Bila, my district legislative assistant, and Cheryl Meyer, my communications staffer. Lynn and Cheryl have spent countless hours making sure I did the best job possible to serve and represent the people of this district. Thank you to my colleagues in the House and Senate for working collaboratively with me to help the people of Illinois. Thank you to my family and my friends for always supporting me, through good times and bad. And finally I want to thank you, the people of the 81st district, for giving me the distinct honor of serving in this esteemed role. It has been a true honor, and I hope we keep in touch. My personal e-mail is dsolsen2@gmail.com.

My life motto is carpe diem – seize the day. Go out and make the best of this day – and each day we are blessed with. That’s what I’ll continue to do.

So today I bid you, my friends, a very fond farewell – until next time.

Sincerely,

David

General Assembly Convenes for “Lame Duck” Session
Prior to Wednesday’s inauguration of the members of the new 101st General Assembly, lawmakers are in Springfield this week for two days of “lame duck” Session on Monday and Tuesday. In addition to approving a host of honorary resolutions brought forward by members, Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker asked the Representatives and Senators to take legislative action on a few items, including: 
  • Moving the annual budget address speech from January to February 
  • Providing the new Governor with flexibility to set agency salaries (currently set in statutes)
  • Reorganizing of the Illinois Tollway Board 
These two days mark the end of my time in the Illinois General Assembly. On Monday I made some departing comments on the House floo. You can watch that floor video here.

New Year Brought New Laws to Illinois Statutes
On January 1, 253 new laws took effect in Illinois. These laws have wide raging impact. Just a few of them include: 
  • Children under the age of 2 years old must be restrained in rear facing car seats unless they weigh 40 or more pounds or are 40 or more inches tall. 
  • Government employees who have been fired for misconduct can no longer receive severance packages. Severance packages for all other employees is limited to no more than 20 weeks of pay. 
  • Qualified students can enroll in an unlimited amount of dual credit courses and earn an unlimited amount of academic credits from dual credit courses with certain provisions. 
  • When purchasing any firearm, the buyer must wait 72 hours from the time of the purchase to receive the gun. Under prior law, the 72-hour waiting period only applied to handguns. 
  • Every Illinois school is required to conduct at least one law-enforcement led active shooter drill each year. School safety drills must be conducted within 90 days of the start of the school year. 
  • Nursing mothers will be exempt from jury duty upon request. 
  • Stalking laws are expanded to include messages sent through social media. Additionally, businesses, places of worship and schools can seek restraining orders against stalkers. 
  • The Lyme Disease Prevention and Protection Act was enacted opening the door in Illinois for new treatments for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. 
  • All children in kindergarten and the second, sixth, and ninth grades of any public, private or parochial school shall have a dental examination. 
Read the complete list.

Rep. Olsen Joins in Farewell to Outgoing College of DuPage President
Recently I joined students, faculty, staff, elected officials and community members to bid farewell to College of DuPage (COD) President Dr. Ann Rondeau. Dr. Rondeau took over as President of COD in July of 2016 during a tumultuous time at the school, and over the last 2 ½ years she facilitated a comprehensive rebuilding of trust at COD as she navigated the school through multiple governance, financial and personnel challenges. During her tenure she took meaningful steps to restore internal and external confidence in the institution through a renewed dedication to individual and institutional integrity. Her term as President concluded at the end of 2018 and Dr. Brian Caputo is now serving as Interim President of the College. 

I had the pleasure of serving on the COD Board and working closely with Dr. Rondeau. Her ability to drive positive results by establishing and maintaining strong relationships based on collaboration and participatory governance was stellar. I wish her the very best as she moves on to her new role as the president of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where she will work toward transforming and modernizing education in the Navy and Marine Corps and bring a new emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

I filed an honorary House Resolution with State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) to thank Dr. Rondeau for her service. The resolution was adopted yesterday. You can read that resolution here.

Rep. David Olsen Honors New Eagle Scouts
It was a privilege to honor four new Eagle Scouts during a combined Court of Honor ceremony held at the Downers Grove American Legion Hall prior to the holiday break. These young men from Troop 80 are to be applauded for achieving scouting’s highest rank. I appreciated the opportunity to share some remarks at the ceremony and wish them all the very best. I’m shown in this photo with new Eagle Scouts John Cagney, Alex Fosket, Jon Silkaitis and Adam Scheg.
Today in Springfield, State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) made some departing remarks to his colleagues in the House of Representatives. Olsen is serving his final days in the General Assemly prior to the swearing in of the new 101st General Assembly on Wednesday.

Click here to watch the video of his floor comments.
There are 253 new state laws with a January 1, 2019 effective date. Many of these new laws simply clarify existing statutes, while others improve transparency and overall government processes. Still others represent entirely new ideas that are now becoming law.

This year I was successful in passing 12 bills into law, more than any other member of the House Republican Caucus. My new laws promote efficiency and cost savings in state government, ease barriers to government consolidation, ensure counselors in our schools are properly qualified, strengthen human rights protections, help our service members, veterans and their families, and so much more. Each of my new laws was a small step toward the goal of making State government more effective, efficient and responsive to the people of Illinois.

Click here to view a list and summary of the 253 bills that become law on January 1.
Illinois Celebrates its 200th Birthday with Grand Bicentennial Party
On Monday, December 3, Illinois celebrities, dignitaries, veterans and citizens came together to celebrate Illinois’ Bicentennial Birthday at a party held on Chicago’s Navy Pier. I was proud to attend this event as the Representative for the 81st District and as a citizen of Illinois. I am shown in the photo to the left at the celebration with my colleague State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst), who represents the 47th District. 

Journalist Bill Kurtis hosted the program, which opened with the legendary Wayne Messmer singing the national anthem and performances from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and many notable Illinois entertainers. Governor Bruce Rauner and Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker were also on hand to welcome a crowd of more than 2,300 attendees.

Rauner noted the contributions of Bicentennial sponsors who made it possible to conduct a year’s worth of Bicentennial activities without spending taxpayer money. The key sponsors included Wintrust, which served as the Official Bank of the Bicentennial, Walgreens, Abbott, Boeing, BMO Harris, Illinois Office of Tourism, Comcast and United Airlines.

As part of the year-long celebration, Illinoisans were polled to determine the top 200 people, places and things in Illinois history. Every two weeks, people had an opportunity to cast on-line votes for the best movies, most inspiring leaders, greatest books, top businesses and much more. Click here to see the top 10 results in the 20 different categories.

Rep. Olsen Congratulates Grove Foundation Grant Recipients
In Downers Grove we are extremely fortunate to have the Grove Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that works tirelessly to enrich the lives of the Downers Grove community. For the last 26 years this group has thrived by identifying, supporting and promoting recreational, educational and community experiences through innovative and collaborative efforts. 2018 was once again a very successful year for the Foundation, and I was pleased to be in attendance on December 10 as grants supporting efforts that serve the many diverse populations within the community were awarded. This year’s recipients include: Sharing Connections, Blessings in a Backpack, GardenWorks Project, Family Shelter Service, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Literacy DuPage, Senior Suburban Orchestra, Samara Care and DuPage PADS. I’m shown in this photo with grant award recipients and members of the Grant Program Committee. 

National Day of Mourning Held for President George H.W. Bush
Earlier this month the world mourned the death of the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush. President Bush passed away at his Houston home on Friday, November 30th at the age of 94. Our 41st President’s flag-draped coffin lied in state at the U.S. Capitol from Monday, December 3 through Wednesday, December 5. The 5th was a National Day of Mourning and the date of President Bush’s State Funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Thousands of mourners attended the State Funeral, including the five surviving presidents: Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

The following day, funeral services were held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. After the service, President Bush’s coffin was transported via a special train that carried him to his burial plot near his presidential library, on the grounds of Texas A&M. He was buried next to his wife of 73 years, Barbara, and daughter Robin, who died in 1953 at the age of three of leukemia.

President George H.W. Bush was the last veteran of World War II to serve as president. Bush spent decades in public service, as a congressman, ambassador, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice-President for two terms under Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States from 1989-1993.

Health Care Fraud Prevention Initiatives Saves the State Over $218 Million
In its latest report, the Governor’s Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force showed that it successfully avoided or recouped $218 million in wasteful or fraudulent Medicaid spending. The effort resulted in 39 fraud convictions including $27.8 million in recoveries through criminal prosecutions, civil actions, and/or administrative referrals. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) saved or recouped an estimated $190 million in Fiscal Year 2018. The task force has saved the state more than $665 million since its inception in 2016. 

The Governor’s Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force was created in April of 2016. Chaired by Executive Inspector General Susan Haling, its purpose is to develop and coordinate a comprehensive plan to prevent and eliminate health care fraud, waste and abuse by deploying a cross-agency, data-driven approach. The Task Force specifically focuses on reducing wasteful spending and fraud in Medicaid, Worker’s Compensation, and State Employee Group Insurance.

In Fiscal Year 2017, members of the Task Force participated in the 2018 National Health Care Fraud Takedown, which was the largest health care fraud enforcement action in U.S. Department of Justice History. The Illinois State Police Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s participation led to the indictment of 14 people responsible for approximately $430,000 in fraudulent claims in the Medicaid Home Services Program. Task Force members also participated in the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care Fraud Task Force meetings to share information about data-driven approaches to fighting fraud.

Proposals Made to Increase State Gas Tax to Fund Infrastructure Needs
Illinois’ motor fuel tax on gasoline is 19 cents per gallon and hasn’t been raised since 1990. All revenue from the tax goes to the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. In Fiscal Year 2017, $1.35 billion in State revenue was collected (approximately the same amount as was raised in Fiscal Year 2016). The State continues to face many challenges in maintaining its transportation system, as we’ve seen first-hand with the recent Metra issues.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently proposed raising the gas tax by 20 to 30 cents per gallon to fund a new Capital program and infrastructure improvements across the State. That would more than double the current 19 cent per gallon State gas tax. IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn has also called for an increase in the State gas tax by at least 15 cents per gallon.

Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday, Dec. 12 did not dismiss the possibility of a gas tax hike to help pay for rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, but he also cautioned that a major capital construction program will not come quickly when his administration begins on January 14. Pritzker also said a new capital program and the revenue to pay for it is not something the lame-duck 100th General Assembly should pursue when we return to Springfield on January 7.

Dr. Floyd Mizener Honored for Community Service
Last week my office presented Dr. Floyd Mizener with an honorary House Resolution, in recognition of his many years of outstanding service to the Downers Grove community and State of Illinois. He was also recently honored by the Friends of Downers Grove Township Seniors organization. I could not attend the event personally, but my District Office Director Lynn made the presentation on my behalf at the Downers Grove Lions Club’s holiday luncheon. 

New Laws Taking Effect on January 1
There are 242 new state laws with a January 1, 2019 effective date. One of these new laws is HB 4213. I was proud to support this taxpayer-friendly bill, which addressed an outdated policy that was costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. Up to this point, all state-owned vehicles were required to have their oil changed at 3,000 miles, even though most new cars are designed to go at least 5,000 or even 10,000 miles without needing an oil change. This unnecessary maintenance was wasting taxpayer dollars. The new law directs the Department of Central Management Services to refer to the recommendations in the vehicle’s manual for when to get the oil changed, rather than utilizing a one-size-fits-all policy.

A law to better protect youth athletes from the effects of concussion will also take effect with the new year. HB 4226 puts in place a uniform set of rules for the accommodation of a student who had a concussion during a school athletic activity. Under this law, the Department of Public Health will put together informational brochures to help educate members of the public about how to spot warning signs that indicate that someone has a concussion. I will highlight additional new laws in my next newsletter.

Olsen Attends Crosstown Classic Games in Downers Grove
I had a great time over the weekend at the “Crosstown Classic” basketball games between Downers Grove North and South. I sat with students as we cheered on our teams at this annual high-spirited event. Both teams played well, but the final scores showed Downers Grove South edging out Downers Grove North by a score of 39-36 in the Girls’ Varsity game, and 46-42 in the Boys’ Varsity game. There was incredible energy in the stands, and community spirit was high on both sides of the gymnasium! 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
Though we’ve had a recent respite from the cold, winter weather, the snow and wind that is common this time of year often makes travel difficult and dangerous. Please be safe in your holiday travels. You can use this link to access alerts about current road conditions that could make travel challenging. 

The countdown to Christmas has begun! You can use this NORAD Santa tracker on Christmas Eve if you would like to follow Santa’s trip around the globe.

Lastly, as we end 2018 and prepare to usher in 2019, I hope you are able to spend quality time these next few weeks with family, friends and other loved ones. While this has indeed been a difficult year for the State of Illinois, we have very much for which we can be truly grateful. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year!
Do you know a teacher who doesn't just impart knowledge, but truly inspires students to learn and succeed? Nominate him or her for a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching at goldenapple.org/awards. Winners will receive a $5,000 cash award, experience a spring quarter sabbatical at Northwestern University, become a lifetime Fellow of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators and be honored on a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) TV program. Applications will be accepted through December 15.
Happy 200th Birthday Illinois!
Today is the 200th anniversary of the state of Illinois’ admission to the union back in 1818. It is the day that caps off a year-long celebration of Illinois’ past and present, and which looks to the future. 

The theme of the bicentennial festivities was “Born, Built, Grown” a celebration of all the great people and things that have their roots here in Illinois. Illinois has made a mark on history of which we can all be proud. Our place in history includes people like our greatest President and our many accomplished writers, entertainers, veterans, educators, inventors, athletes, political leaders and more. Our history also includes products and innovations which came from Illinois, like the steel plow that revolutionized agriculture in the 19th century or the first nuclear reaction which changed the world in the 20th century.

Today the state faces challenges. But a state which was created by pioneers, which produced the leaders who won the Civil War, and which came through the Great Depression, world wars, natural disasters and many other great adversities in its first 200 years is a state which can meet the challenges of today. The State of Illinois will celebrate its 200th birthday party at the Aon Grand Ballroom at the tip of Chicago’s Navy Pier this evening. Starting at 7:30 PM, the party will bring together singers, dancers, and athletes with connections to Illinois for a star-studded celebration of our state’s triumphs and heritage. Colors and trophies will be presented as reminders of the achievements of these men and women on behalf of all Illinoisans. With a focus on entertainment, sports, and life, the event will be a fast-forward way for Illinois celebrants to experience the past two hundred years in the Land of Lincoln.

General Assembly Completes Fall Veto Session
The November 2018 veto session came to an end on Thursday, November 29 with final action taken on many bills vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner. Some of the vetoes were overridden; however, many of the vetoes were allowed to stand after sponsors could not gather the three-fifths majorities of both houses required for an override. This was the final week available for a House or Senate bill sponsor to submit a motion to override a veto and have the motion called on the floor of the General Assembly, so the remaining vetoed bills are now all dead for the year. Click here to view a list of all veto action take during the six-day veto session.

The House will re-convene on Monday, January 7 for two days of “lame duck” session to wrap up the duties of the 100th General Assembly. As veto session ended, the 2019 spring session calendar was published. The new 101st Illinois House of Representatives will convene on Wednesday, January 9, for its members to take their oaths of office.

As you probably know, I will not be returning for the 101st General Assembly. I will save my farewell comments for a newsletter in a few weeks. Following the closing gavel for veto session, I spoke on camera about my hopes for the future of Illinois. Click here to view that video.

Olsen Enjoys Christmas Tree Lighting in Downers Grove
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is when residents of Downers Grove gather in the downtown area for the official lighting of the Village of Downers Grove Christmas Tree in front of the Main Street Train Station. There is a tremendous turnout for this event every year and it is great to see and talk with so many friends and neighbors. 

Rep. David Olsen Recognized for Service through Honorary Resolution 
On the final day of the fall veto session, members of the House honored all departing members. Each of us received an honorary House Resolution that highlighted our accomplishments and contributions while in office. My most sincere thanks go out to House Republican Deputy Leader Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), who made some very kind floor comments about my time in the General Assembly. You can click here to watch Leader Demmer’s floor comments, and here to read the honorary House Retirement Resolution approved by the members of the House on Thursday.

Illinois Capitol Unveils Holiday Display
While the Illinois Capitol building is beautiful 365 days-a-year, this time of year the rotunda is especially magnificent. Last Wednesday the 2018 holiday display was unveiled in the first floor rotunda. The display features a Christmas tree that extends upward to the second floor of the Capitol, a large menorah, and a nativity scene. If your travels take you to Springfield between now and the new year, visit your Capitol and enjoy the holiday display. Local musicians are often performing in the rotunda to enhance the holiday spirit. 

Thousands Come Out for Annual Bonfield Express 5K in Downers Grove
On Thanksgiving morning, I joined thousands of runners for the 15th Annual Bonfield Express 5K through the streets of Downers Grove. It has become a wonderful community tradition, as we all come together in thanks to raise money for the Bonfield Express Foundation, a local charity that provides scholarship assistance to high school seniors to help build future community leaders. I look forward to this race every year and appreciate how our community gathers to support our next generation of leaders. I also appreciate that in recognition of my House District, race organizers reserved #81 for me! I am shown in this photo with my father Jerry Olsen and Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully. 

Bacterial Meningitis on the Rise on College Campuses
Meningitis B outbreaks occurred once again this fall in U.S. colleges and universities. Although the incidents were outside of Illinois, Illinois public health experts urged prompt attention be paid to the infectious disease. Medical care providers reported the infectious bacterium in California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. Meningitis B is a disease that is particularly prone to outbreaks on college and university campuses. Although the vaccine for Meningitis B is optional in Illinois, health directors urge healthy Illinoisans, especially persons living in dormitory-style housing units, to get immunized against the disorder. Meningitis can cause neurological complications and, in rare instances, can be fatal.