On Wednesday I stood with House Republicans and Democrats from across Illinois as we were sworn in to office for the 100th General Assembly. The two-hour inauguration ceremony was held at the University of Illinois Springfield campus. As my first vote of the 100th General Assembly, I voted for Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) to serve as Speaker of the House for 2017-2018. While all 51 Republicans supported Durkin in the House Speaker vote, 66 of the 67 Democrats voted for Mike Madigan to retain his position of power. As a result, Speaker Madigan will now become the longest-serving Speaker of the House in the history of our nation. Regardless of my disappointment over the choice for our leader, I plan to work in a bipartisan fashion with all members of this new General Assembly on bills that will grow jobs, improve government transparency and protect taxpayers and seniors.
Interestingly, more than half of the 51 Republican House members have served for less than three years. Twelve House Republican members participated in their first inauguration ceremony this week, while an additional 16 Republican House members were inaugurated for only the second time. Seven new Democrats also took their oath for the first time on Wednesday. As part of this newer, younger House Republican Caucus, we are committed to utilizing a fresh approach as we work collectively to enact necessary reforms that will put Illinois back onto a path toward financial stability and make our state a place where residents and businesses thrive. Prior to entering the auditorium at UIS, I gave a radio interview and outlined my goals for the 100th General Assembly. You can listen to that interview here.
After the formal ceremony, I attended several receptions, including one held by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin in his Capitol office. The 12 newest Republican State Representatives and their families were able to gather is this smaller setting and discuss their shared goals for the next two years.
Olsen 2017 Legislative Agenda Taking Shape
On the first day of the new General Assembly on Wednesday, I filed my first 12 bills. I have a comprehensive 2017 legislative agenda which includes several pro-jobs initiatives, bills that improve government transparency and measures that protect taxpayers and seniors. You can follow the progress of these and other bills that have not yet been finalized at www.ilga.gov, and by clicking on House Members, and my name.
The bills which I filed on January 11 include:
- HB 287: Requires that property tax bills detail on a separate line item for each taxing district the dollar amount of tax due that will be used toward contributions to a public pension fund for that district’s employees.
- HB 288: Addresses voter fraud by providing that any person who knowingly files an application to vote, accepts a ballot, or enters a voting machine on more than one occasion on the same election day where the ballot or machine lists any of the same candidates and issues (except to legally give assistance, to replace a spoiled or rejected ballot, or at the direction of a judge of elections), shall be guilty of a Class 3 felony.
- HB 289: Increases the Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption from $5,000 to $7,000 for taxable year 2017 and indexes the exemption amount to the Consumer Price Index.
- HB 290: Requires any unit of local government serving a population of 5,000 or more and any school district with an enrollment of 500 or more students to maintain an Internet website and post to that website certain information that affects taxpayers and stakeholders.
- HB 291: Eliminates pensions for future part time elected officials.
- HB 292: Requires that over the counter medications that are prescribed by a physician, a physician assistant, a nurse practitioner, or any other medical care provider shall be covered under the State's medical assistance program.
- HB 293: Prevents the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) from accepting any new participants beginning January 1, 2018; thus phasing out this pension system.
- HB 294: Provides that members of a County Board of Election Commissioners shall serve in an unpaid capacity.
- HB 295: Clarifies that for purposes of determining their pensions, teacher’s salary does not include expense reimbursements, expense allowances, or fringe benefits such as car allowances or mileage reimbursements.
- HB 296: Improves transparency and accountability during the State budget process by requiring the Commission on Governmental Forecasting and Accountability to publish fiscal statements prior to the creation of a budget.
- HB 297: Increases to 60 days (from the current 30 days) the time period during which taxpayers in counties outside of Cook can file a challenge of their property assessment valuation, provided they submit an appraisal.
- HB 301: Requires all State agencies that wish to hold a public hearing regarding rulemaking to post on its Internet website certain requisite information to provide the public with notice of the proposed rulemaking. It also provides that if an agency decides not to initiate a public hearing, it shall post the requirements to request a public hearing, along with information on the proposed rulemaking, on its Internet website.