Legislative Update: September 30, 2016

I continue to keep a busy schedule as I get to know better the people I represent in the 81st Legislative House District. In addition to the document shredding event, the district office open house, the Veterans’ expo and jobs fair that I hosted this summer, last week I held mobile office hours at the Downers Grove Public Library. I enjoyed meeting constituents who stopped by to say hello and discuss issues that are important to them.

I will be holding my second mobile office hours next week on Friday, October 7, at the Indian Prairie Public Library. I will personally be staffing a table at the library from 10:30 AM until noon. The Indian Prairie Library is located at 401 Plainfield Road in Darien. Again, I welcome visitors who would like to meet their new State Representative and share their ideas and concerns.

Olsen Attends First Committee Meeting Focused on Education
Last week I attended a meeting of the House’ K-12 Education-Curriculum and Policies Committee at the Bilandic Building in Chicago. I was joined by lawmakers from across the state as we heard subject matter testimony from ten experts on new federal education law and its impact on the very important issue of school funding. I was particularly interested to hear from Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith, who outlined inequities with today’s funding formula and urged a fair change that will allow every Illinois student opportunities for optimal success. I look forward to being a part of this solution, and will be a strong advocate for a formula that does not punish our local schools for achieving strong academic results while showing fiscal discipline.

New Firearms Trafficking Law Addresses Gun Violence in Local Communities
This summer a new law was signed that should help keep illegally-obtained guns out of the hands of criminals and off our streets. HB 6303 aims to reduce instances of gun violence by enhancing penalties for firearms trafficking. Specifically, HB 6303, signed into law as Public Act 99-0885, will help keep children and communities safe by providing law enforcement with additional tools to use against those who are trafficking guns. The law makes it a felony for a person who has not been issued a FOID card to bring firearms into the state with the intention of selling or delivering them. Furthermore, if the individual trafficking in gun sales has previously been convicted of an unlawful use or delivery of a firearm, gunrunning or firearm trafficking, they will face even stiffer penalties. It is important to note that this law addresses a growing problem without infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens.

Olsen Speaks to Downers Grove South AP Government Students during School Visit
On Wednesday I returned to my alma mater, Downers Grove South High School, and spent time with students from the school’s two AP Government classes. We had a great discussion and these bright students asked some very good questions. I spoke about our State government, the importance of civic engagement, and shared with them my path that led me to the seat I currently hold in the Illinois General Assembly. These future young leaders were very inquisitive, and I was inspired by the opportunity to talk with them and answer their questions.

Enrollment for Winter Heating Assistance Program Now Underway
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is now accepting applications for winter heating assistance. The program makes heating bill payments on behalf of households that meet eligibility requirements.

The LIHEAP program is operated by the Office of Energy Assistance within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Illinois residents who need guidance on whether they are eligible for the program, or who wish to apply for admission to the program, should contact the Office of Energy Assistance. In many cases, applicants will be asked to make a contribution toward the total energy bill under the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program within LIHEAP.

Olsen Joins Local Legislative Leaders for Tour of Tyson Foods R & D Facility
I enjoyed joining other area lawmakers for a tour of the Tyson Foods Research and Development Facility in Downers Grove. Tyson Senior Vice President and Senior Director Kent Bearson, and Illinois Manufacturers Association Associate Director of Government Affairs Jerry Peck arranged the tour to help educate us all about the latest developments in food science. It was a fascinating visit and I’m proud that Tyson’s R &D facility calls Downers Grove home.

Olsen to Represent House Republicans on New Rare Disease Commission
In addition to the committees to which I have been appointed to serve in Springfield, last week I learned that I will be the House Republican Representative on a newly-created Rare Disease Commission. The 15-member panel, created through HB 4576 earlier this year, will consist of 11 members appointed by the Governor, with at least five of them having a family member who suffers or did suffer from a rare disease. The President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, Senate Minority Leader and House Minority Leader each make one additional appointment to the commission. The Department of Public Health will provide administrative and other support to the group.

We will serve without compensation and will study issues such as prescription drugs and innovative therapies for children, adults and any specific sub-population with rare diseases, with a focus on providing assistance on health care coverage and responsibilities associated with promoting quality care for individuals with rare diseases. The panel will also recommend legislative solutions to improve care and treatment, screening for newborns and other issues as the commission deems appropriate.

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