Legislative Update: February 24, 2017

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.

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