The Illinois House of Representatives adjourned for its spring recess on Friday, April 7. I returned home to the district where I will spend the next two weeks tending to constituent needs. When session resumes on Monday, April 24, legislators from the House and Senate have just five days to pass their bills and send them to the other chamber. Any bill that has not cleared its chamber of origin by Friday, April 28 will be essentially dead. In May, we will take action on Senate Bills that successfully passed in that chamber and Senators will take action on legislation sent to them from the House. 

It is my greatest hope that in May we will also come to bipartisan agreement on a balanced, compromise budget. With session adjournment for summer scheduled for May 31, we still have time to pass a budget and I stand ready to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this most important task. Adopting a balanced budget prior to May 31 is my first priority.

Democrats Ignore Republican Plea for Compromise Budget; Push Through New Stop Gap Measure
Thursday was a disappointing day in Springfield, as members of the majority party pushed through a new $800 million stop gap measure to channel funds to social service agencies and institutions of higher learning.

Obviously I believe these agencies and institutions deserve to receive their funding, but this stop gap measure only sends very limited funding to specific programs and does not bring us any closer toward a full compromise budget that would end the uncertainty and suffering for these groups. For example, the spending plan includes only 36% of the funding for domestic violence shelters, only 36% for infant mortality programs, and only 38% for the senior meals program. To make matters worse, the plan was also filled with errors. It would spend $1.5 million on a program in Chicago that is no longer in existence, and more than $500,000 on two programs that are currently ineligible to receive funds due to noncompliance issues with reporting of how state funds were previously spent. In spite of the inefficient funding levels and the multitude of errors in the bill, HB 109 passed in a party-line vote of 64-45-1.

We need a budget that provides state agencies and institutions with predictability that extends beyond more than just a few months. During the last few weeks, two different full budget proposals have been filed in the Illinois Senate, yet rather than work toward bipartisan agreement on one of those plans, the House floor action on Thursday suggested the majority party leadership has little interest in working together in a bipartisan fashion to reach an agreement on a full budget.

Because I remain a trustee for the College of DuPage until y term expires later this month, I voted “present” on HB 109 due to a potential conflict of interest. This bill seeks to appropriate dollars to the Base Operating Grant for community colleges, which is directly passed to the institutions, including the College of DuPage. As a Trustee at COD, I have a direct interest in that appropriation and thus it creates a potential conflict of interest. After speaking with the House ethics officer, I determined that a “present” vote on HB 109 was the appropriate course of action.

Olsen Visits with College of DuPage Students During Recent Lobby Day
It is always nice to visit with local constituents who visit Springfield. On Wednesday I was glad to see College of DuPage Student Trustee Luzelena Escamilla and Student Leadership Council President Kiley Pooler, who visited my Springfield office as part of the College of DuPage student lobby day. We discussed a variety of issues related to higher learning and how members of the General Assembly could best assist Illinois’ colleges, community colleges and universities.

Property Tax Relief Bill for Seniors and Veterans Gains Wide Bipartisan Support in IL House of Representatives
This year I am co-sponsoring a bill that provides property tax relief to seniors, veterans and disabled persons. On Thursday, HB 156 cleared the Illinois House of Representatives with wide, bipartisan support. People are aging in place more frequently, and this bill helps seniors stay in their homes. I hear regularly from seniors who are being taxed out of their homes and this bill provides tangible relief for this growing segment of our population. You can listen to my House floor comments on the bill here.

Specifically, HB 156 would amend the Property Tax Code to provide property tax relief in the following ways:
  • Creates an assessment freeze homestead exemption for persons receiving federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and have a maximum income limitation of $55,000. 
  • Provides that the maximum amount of the senior citizens’ homestead exemption shall be $6,000 (currently, $5,000). 
  • Provides that the maximum amount of the general homestead exemption (GHE) is $8,000 in all counties (currently $7,000 in Cook County and $6,000 in all other counties). 
  • Provides that the standard homestead exemption for veterans with disabilities also applies to veterans who are 75 years of age or older and these senior veterans become eligible for an exemption of $2,500;
  • Provides for a revised tier system regarding exemption amounts; currently, the base level includes a $2,500 exemption for veterans with a level of disability between 30%-50%; this bill would lower this threshold to include veterans with a 20%-50% level of disability. 
  • Makes changes concerning the definition of "surviving spouse." 
  • Amends a section concerning erroneous homestead exemptions in Cook County to make conforming changes to reference to the standard homestead for veterans with disabilities and veterans 75 years of age or older. 
  • Creates a statewide long-time occupant homestead exemption for qualifying homeowners that have lived in the same home for eight or more years; benefits are based according to length of occupancy range from 25%-60% of the GHE. Currently, there is a similar program in Cook County only. 
The bill would also increase the senior citizen estate tax deferral to $6,000 (currently $5,000). The vote to approve HB 156 was 108-1.

Olsen Signs on as Chief-Co-Sponsor of Anti-Hate Crime Legislation
On Friday I signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor of HB 2390, an important piece of bipartisan legislation that strengthens penalties for those who commit hate crimes in Illinois. Two weeks ago I stood with Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers from both political parties as we announced that Illinois will be working with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to expand anti-hate education for Illinois K-12 students. HB 2390 takes additional steps to address hate crimes. The bill increases the amount of damages for which a defendant can be held liable and includes language that ensures that sentences for multiple convictions will be served consecutively rather than concurrently. HB 2390 also includes an educational provision, so that rather than just being penalized for their crime, defendants will face an educational sentence so they may learn why their actions were wrong.

Olsen Meets with DuPage County Board Members in Springfield
Last week it was nice to see DuPage County Board Members Janice Anderson and Liz Chaplin in Springfield. We had a productive discussion about local government funding and the pressing need for a balanced Illinois budget. While not shown in this photo, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and several other county board members were was also in Springfield and I was glad to take time to speak with them.

Rep. Olsen Increases Township Recycling Opportunities through Passage of HB 2427
A recycling bill that will save townships money received unanimous support in the Illinois House on Wednesday. I am the Chief House Sponsor of HB 2427, which seeks to amend the Township Code to allow for the recycling of brush, wood chips and leaves within unincorporated areas of a township. Current law provides for the collection, transport and disposal of the materials gathered through land maintenance, but there is no provision for recycling.

When township highway departments take down dead or diseased trees, the wood is processed into wood chips that many like to use as landscape material. Unfortunately, current statutes do not provide for the recycling of, or free delivery of woodchips or other materials. In Downers Grove Township the highway department spends up to 20% of its budget to dispose of the waste materials. With the passage of this bill, the township will be able to deliver the wood chips directly to facilities or places for a much lower cost than what they currently spend on disposal.

Local Hospitals Participate in IHHA Lobby Day in Springfield
On Wednesday the first floor of the Capitol was lined with booths staffed by representatives from hospitals and healthcare facilities from across the state who were in Springfield for the Illinois Health & Hospitals Association lobby day. I was pleased to have an opportunity to visit with representatives from facilities located in and around the 81st District. I’m shown in this photo with a group of nurses from Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, with whom I was able to meet outside the House chamber.

Mobile Office Hours Tour Continues in 81st District
While the legislature is on its spring recess, I will be hosting my next public mobile office hours event in the 81st District. April Mobile Office Hours are set for Wednesday, April 19, from 6:00 – 7:30 PM at the Naperville Public Library, 2035 S. Naper Boulevard in Naperville. My staff and I will be available to hear your concerns and address issues related to state agencies and services. Additional mobile office hours events will be added throughout the year. Visit www.repolsen.com often to learn about these and other community outreach events.

Summer Events Schedule Taking Shape
During the summer months when legislators spend the majority of their time in their home districts, I host a comprehensive series of outreach events in and around the 81st District. The following events are included on my 2017 summer/fall events calendar:
  • Teletown Hall Meeting: Joint event with House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs): Date and time TBD
  • Children’s Health & Safety Expo: Saturday, June 3, 9:00 AM until noon, Lakeview Junior High School, 701 Plainfield Road, Downers Grove
  • Senior Fair: Thursday, June 29, 10:00 AM until noon, Lincoln Center, 935 Maple Ave, Downers Grove 
  • Document Shredding Event: Saturday, July 15, 9:00 AM until noon. Sharing Connections, 5111 Chase Ave, Downers Grove
  • Jobs Fair: Wednesday, August 9, 9:00 AM until 12:30 PM, CORE Fitness Center, 6028 W 127th St, Lemont
  • Veterans Resource Fair: Saturday, November 4, 9:00 AM until noon, American Legion Post 80, 4000 Saratoga Ave, Downers Grove
  • Understanding & Appealing your Property Tax Bill: Date and time TBD
All events are free and open to the public.

Enjoy the Spring weather, and best wishes for a happy Easter!
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) has signed on as the lead Republican for anti-hate crime legislation filed in Springfield.

“Sadly, hate crimes are on the rise in Illinois and across the country,” Olsen said. “Those who would attack others, verbally or physically, based on their race, color, creed, religion or other perceived classification, need to know their behavior will not be tolerated and that the consequences for such actions will be severe.”

HB 2390 would increase the amount of damages for which a defendant can be held liable and includes language that would ensure that sentences for multiple convictions would be served consecutively rather than concurrently. The bill also includes an educational provision, so that rather than just being penalized for their crime, defendants would face an educational sentence so they could learn why their actions were wrong.

“Two weeks ago I stood with Governor Bruce Rauner and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers as we announced that Illinois will be working with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to expand anti-hate education for Illinois K-12 students,” said Olsen. “HB 2390 supplements those proactive measures involving our youth with enhanced penalties for those who choose to commit crimes motivated by bias or prejudice against any group or classification of people.”

HB 2390 was recommended for approval by the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee in March and is expected to be considered by the full House when lawmakers return to Springfield later this month.
Legislation co-sponsored by State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) that provides property tax relief to seniors, veterans and disabled persons cleared the Illinois House of Representatives with wide, bipartisan support on Thursday.

“I’m proud to stand with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors for this bill,” said Olsen. “People are aging in place more frequently, and this bill helps seniors stay in their homes. I hear regularly from seniors who are being taxed out of their homes and this bill provides tangible relief for this growing segment of our population.”

Specifically, HB 156 would amend the Property Tax Code to provide property tax relief in the following ways:
  • Creates an assessment freeze homestead exemption for persons receiving federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and have a maximum income limitation of $55,000. 
  • Provides that the maximum amount of the senior citizens’ homestead exemption shall be $6,000 (currently, $5,000). 
  • Provides that the maximum amount of the general homestead exemption (GHE) is $8,000 in all counties (currently $7,000 in Cook County and $6,000 in all other counties). 
  • Provides that the standard homestead exemption for veterans with disabilities also applies to veterans who are 75 years of age or older and these senior veterans become eligible for an exemption of $2,500;
    • Provides for a revised tier system regarding exemption amounts; currently, the base level includes a $2,500 exemption for veterans with a level of disability between 30%-50%; this bill would lower this threshold to include veterans with a 20%-50% level of disability. 
    • Makes changes concerning the definition of "surviving spouse." 
  • Amends a section concerning erroneous homestead exemptions in Cook County to make conforming changes to reference to the standard homestead for veterans with disabilities and veterans 75 years of age or older. 
  • Creates a statewide long-time occupant homestead exemption for qualifying homeowners that have lived in the same home for eight or more years; benefits are based according to length of occupancy range from 25%-60% of the GHE. Currently, there is a similar program in Cook County only. 
The bill would also increase the senior citizen estate tax deferral to $6,000 (currently $5,000).

“There is much more work to do on the issue of tax relief and tax reform, and I look forward to continuing our bipartisan work on future reforms that will allow the most vulnerable among us to enjoy and stay in their homes.”

The vote to approve HB 156 was 108-1.
A recycling bill that will save townships money received unanimous support in the Illinois House on Wednesday.

HB 2427, sponsored by State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove), seeks to amend the Township Code to allow for the recycling of brush, wood chips and leaves within unincorporated areas of a township. Current law provides for the collection, transport and disposal of the materials gathered through land maintenance, but there is no provision for recycling.

“When township highway departments take down dead or diseased trees, the wood is processed into wood chips that many like to use as landscape material,” said Olsen. “Unfortunately, current statutes do not provide for the recycling of, or free delivery of woodchips or other materials. In Downers Grove Township the highway department spends up to 20% of its budget to dispose of the waste materials. With the passage of this bill, the township will be able to deliver the wood chips directly to facilities or places for a much lower cost than what they currently spend on disposal.”

HB 2427 received a unanimous vote of recommended approval by the House Counties & Townships Committee in March. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration, where Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) will carry the bill on Olsen’s behalf.
Olsen Goes Straight to Pension Reform in Passage of First Bill
I am pleased to report that last week I presented and passed my first bill on the floor of the House of Representatives. HB 291, which received unanimous support, addresses one of the state’s most pressing issues- the need for property tax relief through local pension reform. HB 291 seeks to increase the number of hours an elected official must work to become eligible for a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). 

Currently local elected officials can become pension-eligible at 600 hours of work per year unless a municipality or unit of local government has specifically approved a measure requiring them to work 1,000 hours per year. My bill increases the standard for all local elected officials who wish to qualify for a public pension to a required minimum of 1,000 hours of work per year. We expect a high standard of job performance from our elected officials, and while I believe we must go further, the new requirement is a good starting point to increase standards for local elected official pensions and easing pressures on taxpayers who fund pensions at the local level.

I was able to assemble a large number of co-sponsors for this bill from both sides of the aisle, because the need for property tax relief and pension reform is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. There is not a legislator among us who does not hear almost daily from a constituent who is desperate for reforms that lead to tax relief. I want to particularly acknowledge House Personnel & Pensions Committee Chairman Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) for collaborating with me on this initiative and serving as a Chief Co-Sponsor. After the bill’s passage, I spoke about the bill during a radio interview. You can listen to that interview here.

Third Olsen Bill Headed to the House Floor
Friday marked the deadline by which all House Bills needed to have cleared a substantive committee if they were to remain viable for this session year. On Thursday I successfully ushered my HB 2427 through the House Counties & Townships Committee. The bill allows townships to provide for the collection, transport, disposal, and recycling of brush, wood chips, and leaves (currently, only collection, transport, and disposal of brush and leaves) within the unincorporated areas of the township. This bill would allow townships throughout the State both to save money and allow environmentally-sensitive recycling of yard waste. The committee vote to send HB 2427 to the House for a full vote was unanimous.

Olsen Hosts Page for a Day in Springfield
On March 29, I was joined on the House floor by Downers Grove North High School Freshman Daniel Adam. Daniel observed the House of Representatives as part of the Page for a Day program. While learning about state government during his spring break from school, Daniel was on the floor as I passed my first bill as an Illinois lawmaker.

I welcome students in elementary school, middle school and high school, as well as college students, to serve as pages on the House floor. For more information about this program, please contact my Springfield office at (217) 782-6578.

Additional Legislation Co-Sponsored by Olsen Clears House
In addition to my own initiatives, this year I am partnering with legislators from both sides of the aisle on several other bills that address a variety of topics. Last week four of those bills were passed in the House and sent over to the Senate for consideration. They include:
  • HB 2379: Requires that a fiscal impact statement be filed for every executive order. 
  • HB 2470: Provides that a career and technical educator or a part-time provisional career and technical educator endorsement may be issued to an applicant who has a minimum of 60 semester hours of coursework from a regionally accredited institution of higher education or an accredited trade and technical institution rather than just a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
  • HB 2606: Strengthens penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or intoxicating compounds when the person is involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in property damage of more than $5,000. 
  • HB 2661: Provides that emergency medical personnel may transport a police dog injured in the line of duty to a veterinary clinic or similar facility if there are no persons requiring medical attention or transport at that time.
FFA Students Attend Capitol Festivities on 2017 “Ag Day”
Thursday was Agriculture Day in Springfield, and the Capitol was buzzing with high school students from chapters of Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs from throughout the state. I had an opportunity to visit with a great group of students from the Mt. Vernon FFA chapter. We had a nice talk and they brought me a lunch that featured a variety of Illinois-grown foods. The lunch was delicious, and I hope the hundreds of students who made the trip to Springfield enjoyed their day at the Capitol.

Olsen Reiterates Need for Balanced Budget and Cost-Saving Reforms
During a radio interview last week, I reiterated the need for Republicans and Democrats to come together to pass a balanced budget with reforms. I also discussed HB 4027, a comprehensive pension reform bill that I am co-sponsoring. You can listen to my radio interview here.

Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Announces Infrastructure Grants
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) moneys will have forty Illinois communities further develop their water, drainage and sewage infrastructure. The grant announcement was made on Wednesday, March 29.

The nonpartisan grant program will help communities in 29 counties across Illinois. Successful grant applicants stretch from Mount Carroll in Illinois’ northwestern corner to Shawnee Township in southern Illinois’ Gallatin County. CDBG-eligible municipalities must have a population of 50,000 or less, must not be located in an urban county, and must submit an application that includes a commitment to provide matching funds.

Olsen Participates in COD Police Academy Graduation
On Friday I had the privilege of participating in the police basic academy graduation at College of DuPage’s Suburban Law Enforcement Academy. Former Downers Grove Police Chief George Graves and newly graduated Downers Grove Officer Kaitlyn Baker joined me for a picture after the ceremony. Congratulations to all 42 officers who graduated today, and thank you for choosing this honorable profession!

Olsen Joins Governor Rauner and Bipartisan Lawmakers in Support of Efforts to Address Hate Crimes
Last week I attended a press conference with Governor Bruce Rauner, a coalition of bipartisan legislators and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, as the Governor announced that Illinois will be working with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to expand anti-hate education for Illinois students. During the 30-minute press conference, we were reminded of the famous words “For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.’ The Governor pledged Illinois’ support in combatting hate crimes and said educating young people is an important key in changing behavior.

Earlier in March, the Governor unveiled a four-part initiative to combat the rise in anti-Semitism and hate crimes both in Illinois and around the country. His directives include:
  • Strengthening Illinois’ hate crime law to prevent and prosecute hate crimes targeting specific religions
  • Improving law enforcement training to properly identify, investigate and prosecute hate crimes
  • Expanding K-12 education to combat hate
  • Prohibiting state contracts with companies that boycott Israel
Monthly Mobile Office Hours Continue in District 81
April Mobile Office Hours are set for Wednesday, April 19, from 6:00 – 7:30 PM at the Naperville Public Library, 2035 S. Naper Boulevard in Naperville. My staff and I will be available to hear your concerns and address issues related to state agencies and services. Additional mobile office hour events will be added throughout the year. Visit www.repolsen.com often to learn about these and other community outreach events.
On March 29, Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) was joined on the House floor by Downers Grove North High School Student Daniel Adam. Adam, a freshman, observed the House of Representatives as part of the Page for a Day program. While learning about state government during his spring break from school, Daniel was on the floor as Rep. Olsen passed his first bill as an Illinois lawmaker.

Rep. Olsen welcomes students in elementary school, middle school and high school, as well as college students, to serve as pages on the House floor. For more information about this program, contact Rep. Olsen's Springfield office at (217) 782-6578.
In passing his first bill in the Illinois House of Representatives, State Representative David S. Olsen did not shy away from one of the state’s most pressing issues- the need for property tax relief through local pension reform.

HB 291, which passed unanimously in the House on Wednesday, increases the requirements for a local elected official to become eligible for a public pension. The bill seeks to increase the number of hours an elected official must work to become eligible for a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) from 600 to 1,000 hours. Currently these individuals can become pension-eligible at 600 hours unless a municipality or unit of local government has specifically approved a measure requiring them to work 1,000 hours per year. “This bill represents a good first step toward easing pressures on taxpayers who fund pensions at the local level,” said Olsen. “We expect a high standard of job performance from our elected officials, and while I believe we must go further, the new requirement is a good starting point to increase standards for local elected official pensions.”

Within days of the bill’s filing in mid-January, Olsen assembled a large number of co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. “The need for property tax relief and pension reform is not a Republican or a Democratic issue,” Olsen said. “There is not a legislator among us who does not hear almost daily from a constituent who is desperate for reforms that lead to tax relief.”

HB 291 received unanimous approval before the House Personnel & Pensions Committee earlier this month and now moves to the Senate for consideration. To hear Olsen speak in detail about the bill during a recent radio interview, click here.
During a radio interview this week, State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) reiterated the need for Republicans and Democrats to come together to pass a balanced budget with reforms. He also discussed HB 4027, a comprehensive pension reform bill that he is co-sponsoring. You can listen to his interview here.
Legislators Continue to Push Bills Through Committees
This Friday marks the deadline by which House Bills must clear a substantive committee if they are to remain viable this legislative session. Legislators are working to address concerns expressed during the committee process with hopes that any opposition can be removed and bills can be favorably reported to the Floor. To that end, it will be another committee-heavy week for lawmakers. I serve on several committees this year, including: Appropriations-General Services, Elementary & Secondary Education: Licensing & Administration, Financial Institutions, Mass Transit, Aging, and Government Consolidation & Modernization. I have enjoyed hearing my colleagues’ bills and offering input and suggestions.

Rep. Olsen Co-Sponsors Comprehensive Pension Reform Bill
The unaffordable pension system in Illinois is one of the most pressing issues that face our state. With nearly 25% of all state revenue being channeled toward the pension obligation, reforming the system to make it more sustainable must be a priority. 

On Friday, I was proud to join House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and 24 other House Republicans in filing a comprehensive compromise pension reform measure that would provide significant savings for taxpayers and a one-time-only $215 million pension parity payment to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Through the provisions of this legislation, it is estimated the State of Illinois will realize short-term savings of $2.25 billion dollars from the general funds, which represents a substantial step towards closing the deficit gap. HB 4027 would not change benefits for current retirees. However, for current and future participants, the bill:
  • Includes Senate President John Cullerton’s “consideration model” that would require members of TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, and CTPF to exchange their Tier 1 COLA for the right to have future raises to be counted as pensionable, or keep their COLA and sacrifice future raises as pensionable. 
  • Provides a one-time normal cost payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund of $215.2 million for FY 17. 
  • Closes new member participation in GARS. 
  • Offers Tier 1 TRS, SURS, SERS and GARS employees the option to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan. 
  • Creates a voluntary Tier 3 Hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plan for new Tier 2 employees under TRS, SURS, and certain SERS members who do not participate in Social Security.
There are elements of this comprehensive package that I do not like. But in the spirit of compromise and in an effort to show our Democratic colleagues that we are serious about achieving Constitutionally-sound pension reform, my Republican colleagues and I are willing to support this compromise package. Pension reform is a critical element of putting Illinois’ finances back on track, and I have been disappointed that the topic has taken a back seat to other issues lately. It is my pleasure to stand with Leader Durkin and many of my House Republican colleagues to push this important legislation.

Legislation to Strengthen Protections for Youth in Park District Programs Clears House
This year I am partnering on bipartisan legislation that would strengthen laws that prohibit sex offenders from volunteering for park district programs. HB 786, which cleared the House unanimously on Thursday, would require all park districts to have volunteers complete an application prior to beginning work as a volunteer, and would require that the application include a question concerning whether the applicant has been found to be a child sex offender. While most park districts already take steps to ensure their volunteers meet these guidelines, the new bill would require it. HB 786 has now moved to the Senate for consideration.

Mobile Office Hours Continue in District 81
We had another good turnout last week for a mobile office hours event I hosted at the Downers Grove Library. My mobile office tour will continue next month with an event on Wednesday, April 19, from 6:00 – 7:30 PM at the Naperville Public Library, 2035 S. Naper Boulevard in Naperville. My staff and I will be available to hear your concerns and address issues related to state agencies and services. Additional mobile office hour events will be added throughout the year. Visit www.repolsen.com often to learn about these and other community outreach events.

Women’s Scholarships Available Through COWL
The Conference of Women Legislators in the Illinois General Assembly, known as COWL, encourages female legislators from both side of the aisle to work in a bi-partisan fashion to advance the interest of all women, children and families, through state, local and federal initiatives. COWL members have made a scholarship fund available to assist mature women who wish to continue their undergraduate education. The scholarship is awarded annually to deserving, qualified women whose educations were interrupted due to family concerns and economic problems. Particular consideration is given to women who have shown leadership promise through community service. The fund is made available through a fundraiser. You can learn more about COWL here and you may access the application here.

Olsen Meets with Experts to Discuss Importance of Prostate Health
On Friday morning, I met with Dr. Brian Moran, the team at Chicago Prostate Cancer Center in Westmont, and Downers Grove resident John Aguzino to discuss adequate and affordable access to prostate screenings and healthcare. It was a very informative meeting. The Chicago Prostate Cancer Center works hand-in-hand with Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago to encourage prostate cancer awareness and prevention, patient peer-support, education and clinical research.

New School Accountability Plan Moves Away from “No Child Left Behind”
The new plan approved by the Illinois State Board of Education creates a revised grading system to assess public school districts on their performance. While “No Child Left Behind” was widely criticized for its concentration on imposing proficiency guidelines on challenged school districts, the 2017 ISBE plan concentrates on academic growth metrics. Schools and school districts will be positively reinforced for showing healthy movements, including movements from a challenged or low baseline.

The ISBE plan follows the replacement of No Child Left Behind by the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. Illinois, like other states, has been asked to adopt a plan that sets long-term goals, determines metrics for measuring progress towards these goals, and creates a system to identify and support challenged schools and school districts. By 2032, the ISBE plan looks forward to at least 90% of children and adolescents meeting a series of age-appropriate goals. At least 90% of high school graduates should leave school in a state of readiness for college and career.

The ISBE’s reliance on standardized tests will continue to be key factors in determining whether these age-appropriate goals are being met. The ISBE will continue to use standardized tests to determine whether third graders are reading “at or above grade level” and fifth graders are “meeting or exceeding expectations” in math.

New ID Cards Available for Persons with Disabilities
New ID cards are now available to assist persons with disabilities in Illinois. The ID cards, which eligible persons can show to law enforcement, contain an official notification that the bearer is age 16 or older and has a medical condition that may impair his or her ability to communicate with others. The new ID cards are available at all Drivers Services facilities operated by the Illinois Secretary of State.

The ID card was developed by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). Approximately 100,000 of the cards have been printed for distribution, matching estimates of the number of Illinois residents who may face challenges if encountered by police officers and other first responders. Persons who are eligible for the card include persons with physical, developmental, visual, hearing, or mental challenges and disabilities. The card application must be cosigned by a physician. An application for the specialty ID card can be found here.
In a significant showing of compromise today, State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and 24 other House Republicans in filing a comprehensive pension reform measure that would provide significant savings for taxpayers and a one-time-only $215 million pension parity payment to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

The legislation, filed in Springfield today as HB 4027, would not change benefits for current retirees. However, for current and future participants, the bill:
  • Includes Senate President John Cullerton’s “consideration model” that would require members of TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, and CTPF to exchange their Tier 1 COLA for the right to have future raises to be counted as pensionable, or keep their COLA and sacrifice future raises as pensionable. 
  • Provides a one-time normal cost payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund of $215.2 million for FY 17. 
  • Closes new member participation in GARS. 
  • Offers Tier 1 TRS, SURS, SERS and GARS employees the option to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan. 
  • Creates a voluntary Tier 3 Hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plan for new Tier 2 employees under TRS, SURS, and certain SERS members who do not participate in Social Security.
“There are elements of this comprehensive package that I do not like,” said Olsen. “But in the spirit of compromise and in an effort to show our Democratic colleagues that we are serious about achieving Constitutionally-sound pension reform, my Republican colleagues and I are willing to support this compromise package.”

Olsen rejected his own legislative pension upon taking office last year, and has been a vocal advocate for meaningful pension reform. “Pension reform is a critical element of putting Illinois’ finances back on track, and I have been disappointed that the topic has taken a back seat to other issues lately,” Olsen said. “It is my pleasure to stand with Leader Durkin and many of my House Republican colleagues to push this important legislation.”

Through the provisions of HB 4027, it is estimated the State of Illinois will realize short-term savings of $2.25 billion dollars from the general funds, which represents a substantial step towards closing the deficit gap.

The current General Assembly includes 51 Republicans and 67 Democrats, and Durkin said today’s bill filing should send a clear message that his caucus is willing to do its part to achieve pension reform. “With our 26 votes the House Republicans have provided their pro-rata share of support for a structured roll call vote on this important issue,” said Durkin. “This means we will provide our fair share of votes. The Speaker needs to provide his 34 votes to move this legislation to the Senate.”
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) will be hosting mobile office hours at the Downers Grove Public Library this Friday, March 24.

Olsen and his District Office Director will be available from 10:30 AM until noon at the library, located at 1050 Curtiss Street in Downers Grove. In addition to making himself available for short one-on-one conversations with constituents, Olsen and his staff will be available to help residents with their concerns and issues involving state agencies and programs.

“I hold regular mobile office hours throughout the 81st District so that my constituents have easy access to their representative voice in Springfield,” said Olsen. “I enjoy meeting the people who live in the 81st District and learning about their concerns and priorities.”

No appointment is needed. For additional information, please call Olsen’s office at (630) 737-0504 or visit www.repolsen.com.
Lawmakers Work to Gain Committee Approval of Bills Prior to March 31 Deadline
With just two weeks remaining for House members to move their bills out of a substantive committee, last week we spent most of our time attending committee meetings where we vetted hundreds of bills. We are now also beginning to take votes on the House floor on the initiatives that have successfully cleared a committee. Most of our time will continue to be spent in committees through the end of the month, and during the first two weeks of April we will be taking final action on House Bills on the floor.

Olsen Legislation to Increase and Standardize Requirements for Elected Official Pensions Clears Committee
I hear regularly from constituents who are taxed to their limit and looking for relief. A key part of my legislative agenda this year is an effort to ease the financial pressures placed on taxpayers who fund local government pensions for elected officials. HB 291, which passed unanimously out of the House Personnel & Pensions Committee on Thursday, increases the number of hours per year an elected official must work to become eligible for a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). Today, state law only requires an elected official to work 600 hours per year to become pension-eligible, but the new rule would require 1,000 hours per year for eligibility. This is not a full solution, but it is a definite step in the right direction.

IMRF rules currently require each unit of local government certify the elected positions which meet the hour threshold biannually. HB 291 would set a uniform standard across the state that all eligible elected positions work 1,000 hours. HB 291 will now move to the floor of the House for full consideration and a vote. To hear a portion of my committee testimony, click here.

Pierce Downer Home Receives Landmark Status at Downers Grove Ceremony
On March 11 it was a privilege to attend a ceremony held at Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, where the plaque and certificate of historic landmark status was presented for the Pierce Downer Home which was built by the founder of Downers Grove circa 1840. The day also featured many informative presentations from a variety of stakeholders regarding the importance of advocating, educating and celebrating historic preservation in the village and across the region.

House Republicans Promote Free Solution to Web Site Translation Issue
Last week we spent over a half hour debating a bill on the House floor that would have authorized an expenditure of about $1.5 million to translate portions of the www.ilga.gov web site into Spanish. My colleague State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), spoke up during the debate and asked why we would spend $1.5 million in taxpayer funds to address an issue when free Internet software is available that would produce a more effective and inclusive result. Rep. Wheeler pointed to Google Translator, an Internet tool that can translate any web-based text into several different languages at the click of a button. Best of all, this solution is free; it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime. Anyone with access to the Internet can now find a translated version of www.ilga.gov in any of the most common languages spoken in Illinois simply by clicking on the links below:

Spanish Español
Arabic عربي
Hindi हिन्दी
Chinese (Simplified) 中文简体
Chinese (Traditional) 中文繁體
Japanese 日本語
Korean 한국어
Russian Русский
French Français
German Deutsch
Italian Italiano
Polish Polski
Greek Ελληνικά

The Illinois General Assembly website contains legislator profiles, full text of all legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and State Senate, live audio and video feeds of legislative session and committee hearings; and a wide variety of other legislative information and support services.

Lawmakers Share Springfield Update at District 58 Schools’ Legislative Breakfast
Last week I joined my colleague State Representative Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) at the annual Legislative Breakfast for Downers Grove Elementary School District 58. We provided an update about key legislation in Springfield, discussed the budget impasse, and had a robust discussion of current issues affecting public education. The breakfast was held at O’Neill Middle School in Downers Grove.

House Bills Begin to Move to the Senate
Bills that have been successful at the House Committee level and on the House floor are beginning to arrive in the Illinois Senate for consideration. While I expect to bring some of my own bills to the House floor this week, several initiatives for which I serve as a Chief Co-Sponsor or Co-Sponsor have already made their way across the hall to be considered by our colleagues in the Senate. Some of those bills include:
  • HB 373: I am a Chief Co-Sponsor of this bipartisan bill which seeks to amend the Illinois Local Library Act. The bill would require library boards of trustees to submit financial documents that relate to their annual levy to the governing board of the local municipality no less than 60 days prior to when the tax levy is certified. This legislation is an initiative of village public libraries, and will improve public disclosure of anticipated library tax levies by moving the disclosure date closer to when a levy must actually be approved. 
  • HB 528: This bill creates a tracking system and develops more detailed guidelines for sexual assault evidence tracking. It also expands the current chain of evidence custody procedures to include hospitals, victims and law enforcement. Survivors of sexual assault often turn to hospitals and local law enforcement for help and many victims volunteer to have professionals collect a sexual assault evidence kit to preserve physical evidence. Through the bill, the Illinois State Police may phase in initial participation in the new tracking system by region, volume or other appropriate classifications, with all who have custody of sexual assault evidence kits fully participating by July 1, 2019.
  • HB 1805: This legislation would allow the Secretary of State Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices to offer to each applicant for issuance or renewal of a driver's license or identification card who is 16 years of age or older (rather than 18 years of age or older) the opportunity to have his or her name included in the First Person Consent organ and tissue donor registry. The bill also includes a provision that upon the death of a donor who is an unemancipated minor, the parent or guardian of the donor may amend or revoke the anatomical gift of the donor's body.
  • HB 3161: In an effort to address the growing opioid abuse problem in DuPage County and across the state, this bill would require the Department of Human Services to create and maintain a website to educate the public on heroin and prescription opioid abuse. At a minimum, the website would have to include:
    • Information on the warning signs of heroin and prescription opioid addiction 
    • Helpful hints for parents on how to discuss the dangers of heroin and prescription opioid addiction with their children
    • Information on available treatment options and services
    • A listing of the toll-free number established by the Department to provide information and referral services for persons with questions concerning substance abuse and treatment
    • Links to flyers and resources for download
Olsen Meets with Advocacy Group to Discuss Illinois Rare Disease Commission
Earlier this month it was my pleasure to meet with families from around the state who were in Springfield lobbying for support for loved ones afflicted with rare diseases. I am the House Republican designee to the Illinois Rare Disease Commission, and we will meet at least four times this year (without compensation). We 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. The commission will submit an annual report to the General Assembly no later than December 31 of each year until the commission disbandment date of January 1, 2020. I am enjoying this commission assignment and am honored to provide patients – many of whom are too young or sick to speak for themselves – a voice in Springfield. 

Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Mobile Office Hours
I enjoy the outreach events that allow me to visit face-to-face with the constituents I represent in Springfield. My next mobile office hours event is set for this Friday, March 24, from 10:30 AM until noon at the Downers Grove Public Library, 1050 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove. Additional dates and locations will be added throughout the spring and summer. Visit www.repolsen.com for more information as dates are finalized.
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) is taking steps to ease the financial pressures placed on taxpayers who fund local government pensions for elected officials.

HB 291, which passed unanimously out of the House Personnel & Pensions Committee on Thursday, increases the number of hours per year an elected official must work to become eligible for a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). Today, state law only requires an elected official to work 600 hours per year to become pension-eligible, but the new rule would require 1,000 hours per year for eligibility. “While I value the work of all public officials, taxpayers simply cannot afford to pay for pensions for those who are only working a very limited number of hours,” said Olsen. “This is not a full solution, but it is a definite step in the right direction.”

IMRF rules currently require each unit of local government certify the elected positions which meet the hour threshold biannually. HB 291 would set a uniform standard across the state that all eligible elected positions work 1,000 hours. “I hear regularly from constituents who are taxed to their limit, and this is one way to help control costs that are passed down to taxpayers,” Olsen said.

HB 291 will now move to the floor of the House for full consideration and a vote.

To hear a portion of Rep. Olsen's committee testimony on the bill, click here.
Olsen Co-Sponsors Legislation to Freeze Lawmaker Pay
Yesterday in Springfield, a bill I co-sponsored that eliminates pay raises for Illinois lawmakers for the upcoming fiscal year was approved in the House. HB 643 prohibits any raise for the time period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. In addition, mileage reimbursement amounts for members of the House and Senate would continue to be frozen. As lawmakers struggle with Illinois’ immense financial pressures, we need to lead by example. I am more than willing to forego a pay increase or cost-of-living adjustment to send a message that we take the state’s financial woes very seriously and want to be part of the solution.

General Assembly Celebrates Chicago Cubs Day in Springfield
There was a great deal of excitement swirling around the Capitol on Wednesday, as news traveled that Chicago Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts and Hall of Fame Second Baseman Ryne Sandberg were in town for the latest stop of the Cubs Trophy Tour. As our day began, a joint session of the House and Senate gathered to watch the coveted trophy make its way to the front of the House chamber.

Mr. Ricketts spoke to the lawmakers about the three goals set by his family when they became owners of the ball club, including:
  • Winning the World Series
  • Preserving and improving Wrigley Field
  • Doing more for the Wrigleyville community
He also thanked Illinoisans for their love and support of the team over the many years that led to the 2016 Championship. Following the festivities at the Capitol, the trophy was available for public viewing at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, where Cub fans lined up as early as 6:00 AM for their chance to see this important part of sports history.

Legislation to Improve Efficiency within SURS Clears House
This year I am partnering on bipartisan legislation to improve the efficiency to the administration of the State University Retirement System (SURS) Fund. Specifically, HB 368 authorizes the SURS board secretary to issue subpoenas to obtain information to assist in the collection of money due to the system, the determination of the death of a benefit recipient and the obtaining of personal identifying information that aids with the administration of SURS benefits. With its House approval this week, the bill now awaits assignment to a Senate committee.

Rep. Olsen Celebrates University of Illinois Sesquicentennial
Happy 150th Birthday to the University of Illinois! I was honored to attend the University’s Sesquicentennial Luncheon on February 28 with State Rep. Tim Butler, U of I President Tim Killeen, U of I Board Chairman Tim Koritz and many others who wanted to help to celebrate this important milestone. As a 2011 graduate of the University of Illinois and Student Body President during my senior year, I have fond memories of my alma mater and enjoyed returning to campus for this celebration.

Illinois Toll Highway Authority to Eliminate Plastic Coin Collection Buckets
In another move intended to discourage the payment of tolls in cash, the Illinois tollway authority plans to remove the familiar plastic bucket cones into which motorists can throw coins. The cones, which are posted on tollway cash pay lanes, feed coins into electromechanical coin-counting machines. They will be replaced by new electronic touch screens that will accept credit cards, bills, and coins.

The new pay screens will be more convenient for many users than former pay lanes that required exact change in coins. However, many tollway users have mounted small I-PASS transponders in their cars and they no longer pay cash tolls to the highway agency. This switchover will not affect I-PASS users. The Tollway Authority prefers I-PASS use because of administrative costs of handling cash as opposed to electronic payments. On Monday, February 27, the Authority told the press that they still had 100 coin-counting cones deployed on their network of highways, mostly at unmanned tollway exit ramps.

Fire Chiefs Visit Springfield for Annual Lobby Day
I was glad to spend time on Wednesday with Lisle/Woodridge Fire District Chief Keith Krestan. Chief Krestan was part of a coalition of fire chiefs who were in Springfield this week to discuss public safety issues impacting our State. Senator Connelly (R-Lisle) and I met with Chief Krestan to discuss many issues related to the fire service.

State Senate Continues Discussion of “Grand Bargain”
On February 28, the Senate passed five measures as part of the so-called “grand bargain”. However, the Senate did not approve several of the other key elements of the “grand bargain” reform package. I hope that Senators from both sides of the aisle can continue to work together to agree upon a compromise budget with the important reforms our State needs.

As we all know, budget challenges continue to affect the State of Illinois. Unfortunately, the February 2017 monthly revenue report and estimate released by the nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) indicated a continued decline in State general funds tax revenues in February 2017. Personal income tax revenues decreased in February 2017 by $129 million from the same levels of taxes paid in one year earlier. Illinois corporate income tax revenues have practically dried up, with only $9 million (down 81%) received from this source in February 2017.

Olsen Attends Citizen of the Year Event in Darien
Congratulations to Steve Hiatt, the 2017 Darien Citizen of the Year! Darien Mayor Kathleen Weaver and I were among the many elected officials and community members on hand for the celebration last Saturday evening. Steven Hiatt moved to Darien in 1998 and immediately became active in the city's events and organizations. In 2003, he became a member of the Darien Lions Club where he served in many positions of leadership. He has also been a liaison with the Chamber of Commerce for recruiting volunteers and working in various areas for DarienFest. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Darien Historical Society and assists with the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church Food Drive and Toys for Joy. His commitment to the community is inspirational, and I thank him for his public service.

Site Selection Magazine Honors Illinois as Potential Location for Job Creation
A magazine aimed at CEOs and corporate executives has honored Illinois as one of the top states in the U.S. with the most qualifying new and expanded facilities per capita. A total of 434 new job-creating projects of the types tracked by Site Selection were announced in 2016. In the eyes of the magazine, this made Illinois the No. 3 “site selection” state in the U.S. in 2016, with Texas and Ohio as #1 and #2.

Projects tracked by Site Selection include corporate headquarters, manufacturing plants, R&D operations, and logistics sites. They must involve a capital investment off at least $1 million, create at least 20 new jobs, or add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area. Illinois House Republicans have made a priority in recent years to push for new logistics sites, with the General Assembly enacting changes to Illinois tax law to encourage this class of investment and job-creating activity.

Site Selection noted that almost all of the private-sector investment activities they tracked in 2016 were concentrated in the Chicago area. Of the new Tier 1 job-creating projects noted by the magazine, 424 were located in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin expanded Chicagoland metropolitan area.

Olsen Tours Ray Graham House and Easter Seals Facility
Last week I was able to tour two facilities that provide critical services to many families in the 81st District. On March 2, I had a wonderful opportunity to meet with Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley President Theresa Forthofer, and tour their Villa Park facility. That same week, Kim Zoeller, President of Ray Graham Association, hosted me at one of their Downers Grove homes for women with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We spent over an hour discussing state issues, especially the challenges surrounding the current budget impasse. Thanks to both of these organizations for the work they do on behalf of families in our district and across the State.

Olsen Mobile Office Hours Continue
I had a great turnout at my last mobile office hours event at the Lisle Public Library and appreciate those who came out to share their views on a variety of topics. I enjoy these opportunities to connect with my constituents, and have scheduled my next mobile office hours event for Friday, March 24, from 10:30 AM until noon at the Downers Grove Public Library, 1050 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove. Additional dates and locations will be added throughout the spring and summer. Visit www.repolsen.com for more information as dates are finalized.
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) is co-sponsoring legislation that eliminates pay raises for Illinois lawmakers for the upcoming fiscal year.

HB 3790, which has been assigned to the House Executive Committee for a hearing, would prohibit any raise for the time period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. In addition, mileage reimbursement amounts for members of the House and Senate would be frozen at the FY 2017 level.

“In the midst of this financial crisis, lawmakers need to lead by example and not add to increased costs of state government,” said Olsen. “Through this bill we are sending a message that we take the situation seriously and are willing to be part of the solution.”

The current base salary for a State Representative is $67,836.
Olsen’s First Bill Clears House Committee in Unanimous Vote
This week I successfully ushered my first bill, a transparency in government initiative, through a key House Committee. HB 682 directs the Illinois Comptroller to create and maintain an online, searchable database which provides information regarding the receipt of gubernatorial or legislative member initiatives. Specifically, the database would include for each initiative recipient:
  • The name of the recipient and name of the elected official who sponsored it
  • The amount of money tied to the initiative
  • The funding agency and funding source
  • The purpose of the initiative
  • The location where the funds would be used
  • Information about recoverable grants tied to an initiative
This type of project money flows to units of local government, school districts, not-for-profits and other non-governmental entities for worthwhile infrastructure and other improvements, but today taxpayers are unable to see a clear path from a budget line item to an end user for these grants. HB 682 would remedy that. Of course, the provisions of the bill are contingent upon an approved budget being in place. My goal is to have the mechanism in place, so when we have a budget and a capital bill we can immediately move forward with a more transparent process.

AFSCME Members Vote to Authorize Strike
Illinois’ largest public employee union represents approximately 38,000 public workers in Illinois state government. This week 81% of the membership took a vote to authorize a strike. While Governor Bruce Rauner has reached contract agreement with 20 of Illinois’ other public unions, the impasse with AFSCME has stretched for close to two years. The old AFSCME contract expired in July of 2015.

The union’s leadership pointed to a possible partial freeze in State pay rates, and cuts in employer-financed health care benefits, as reasons for the strike vote. The Governor’s office responded that AFSCME workers currently enjoy many benefits that private-sector workers do not enjoy, such as a 37.5-hour work week, platinum health insurance benefits, and a ban on merit pay. The AFSCME vote does not make a strike inevitable, but authorizes the union’s powerful bargaining committee to call a labor action in the near future. The strike, if it occurs, would be the first ever statewide public-sector labor action against the State of Illinois.

Mobile Office Hours Set for February 27 in Lisle
Stop by and see me on Monday, as I host mobile office hours at the Lisle Public Library, 777 Front Street, from 6:00-7:30 PM. I enjoy these outreach events because they provide me with an excellent opportunity to connect with the people I represent in Springfield. No appointment is needed, and the event is open to all residents who live in the 81st Legislative House District. 

Olsen Hosts Page for a Day in Springfield
The Page for a Day Program is available through all State Representative and Senate offices in Illinois. Students who participate in this program get an up-close view of the legislative process in Springfield from the floor of the House or Senate. Today I hosted Luke Lato, a Junior from New Trier High School, who was in town for a job shadowing assignment and to serve as a House Page. Luke is also my cousin. We are shown in this picture with State Representatives Mike McAuliffe (R-Chicago), John D’Amico (D-Chicago) and Laura Fine (D-Waukegan, who represents the District where Luke lives). Prior to the start of today’s session, I showed Luke around the Capitol and we attended some House committee meetings. After session adjourned, we visited the old Capitol building.

If you have an interest in government and would like to participate in the Page for a Day Program, please let my Springfield office know. My Springfield office can be reached at (217) 782-6578.

Olsen Talks Ethics with Students at Chamber630 Attainable Futures Program
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of talking with approximately 40 students from Community High School District 99 who were participating in the Chamber630’s Attainable Futures program. This cooperative program was created for students to explore career opportunities and enhance the skills necessary to enter the job market. The overall goal of the program is to introduce the business community to students and vice versa. Students work on communications skills, interviewing, etiquette, community involvement and explore career options. 

My portion of the program focused on ethics and the importance of choosing right over wrong. We also discussed how important it is to show empathy toward others and to be civil, even when disagreeing. I was very impressed with this group of high school students and believe they will do well as they enter college and/or the workforce.

Legislators Tour New Tower at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital
Last weekend, Representative Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) and I had the opportunity to tour the brand new 96-room West Tower at Downers Grove's Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. The new tower features all private rooms and will allow the doctors and nurses to deliver even more exceptional patient care. We are very fortunate in this area to have such easy access to exceptional healthcare.
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) will be holding mobile office hours next week on Monday, February 27, from 6:00-7:30 PM at the Lisle Public Library, 777 Front Street.

“I enjoy these outreach events because they provide me with an excellent opportunity to connect with the people I represent in Springfield,” said Olsen. “I look forward to talking one-on-one with constituents so I can learn about the issues that are important to them.”

Olsen will personally be staffing the event. No appointment is needed, and the event is open to all residents who live in the 81st Legislative House District.
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) has successfully ushered his first bill, a transparency in government initiative, through a key House Committee.

HB 682 directs the Illinois Comptroller to create and maintain an online, searchable database which provides information regarding the receipt of gubernatorial or legislative member initiatives.

Specifically, the database would include for each initiative recipient:
  • The name of the recipient and name of the elected official who sponsored it
  • The amount of money tied to the initiative
  • The funding agency and funding source
  • The purpose of the initiative
  • The location where the funds would be used
  • Information about recoverable grants tied to an initiative
“Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent,” said Olsen. “This project money flows to units of local government, school districts, not-for-profits and other non-governmental entities for worthwhile infrastructure and other improvements, but taxpayers deserve to be able to see a clear path from a budget line item to an end user for these grants.”

While presenting the bill to the House Government Transparency Committee, Olsen said he recognized the provisions of the bill are contingent upon an approved budget being in place. “My goal is to have the mechanism in place, so when we have a budget and a capital bill we can immediately move forward with a more transparent process.”

The committee vote on HB 682 was unanimous, and Olsen said a minor amendment will be suggested before the bill reaches the House floor for final consideration. If approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by the Governor, HB 682 would take effect on July 1, 2017.