State Representative David S. Olsen of Downers Grove joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers last week in approving legislation that should help close the gender pay gap that exists between men and women in the Illinois workplace.

In an interview after the vote, Olsen explained that in spite of the Equal Pay Act of 2003, a wage gap still exists between women and men in the workplace. HB 2462 would strengthen the Act by prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their previous salary history, including benefit and other compensation costs.

You can listen to the interview here.
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) took steps to improve voter access to ballot initiative information on Friday, by passing a bill that increases the period of time during which taxing bodies must publish public questions that will be put before voters.

According to Olsen, Chief Sponsor of HB 512, the bill was filed in response to legal challenges that occurred last year after it was learned that four successful ballot initiatives did not meet narrow public posting requirements. “In November, there were four cases when referendum results were called into question when it was learned that in each instance the official publishing of the question occurred three days prior to the state-required posting period,” said Olsen.

HB 512 would amend the election code to provide that public questions must be published not more than 60 days (currently 40 days) and not less than 10 days (currently 30 days) before the election. “Especially with the growing popularity of early voting in Illinois, providing greater notice to voters improves the process and the ability for voters to become informed on local issues,” Olsen said. “I was pleased to see unanimous support of the bill.”

State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) served as the Chief Co-Sponsor of the bill, and said the issues that surfaced after the November election brought the need to broaden the publication calendar to light. “Clearly, adequate notice about referendum questions needs to be provided to voters, and the changes proposed in HB 512 make it easier for taxing bodies to meet publication requirements.”

HB 512 now moves to the Senate.
This week State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) passed transparency legislation that would allow Illinois taxpayers to follow their tax dollars from the Illinois budget to individual legislative district initiatives.

HB 682 directs the Illinois Comptroller to create and maintain an online, searchable database which provides information regarding the receipt of local initiative dollars. Specifically, the database would include for each initiative recipient:
  • The name of the initiative recipient
  • The location of the initiative recipient and the primary location of the performance of the local initiative
  • The State Representative and State Senator within whose legislative district the primary location of the performance of the local initiative is located 
  • The amount of the local initiative 
  • The funding agency and the funding source 
  • The purpose of each local initiative 
  • The portion of the local initiative spent by the initiative recipient, and the portion that lapsed upon completion of the local initiative.
To hear Rep. Olsen's interview on the bill, click here.
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) passed important transparency legislation on Wednesday that would allow Illinois taxpayers to see exactly how their tax dollars are spent on appropriations to specific local governmental units or not-for profits.

“When State project money flows to local units of government or non-government entities, taxpayers have the right to know which legislative districts are receiving the initiative funds and how they will be used,” said Olsen. “My bill allows taxpayers to follow their tax money from the Illinois budget all the way to the end recipient and project.”

HB 682 directs the Illinois Comptroller to create and maintain an online, searchable database which provides information regarding the receipt of local initiative dollars. Specifically, the database would include for each initiative recipient:
  • The name of the initiative recipients
  • The location of the initiative recipient and the primary location of the performance of the local initiative 
  • The State Representative and State Senator within whose legislative district the primary location of the performance of the local initiative is located 
  • The amount of the local initiative 
  • The funding agency and the funding source 
  • The purpose of each local initiative 
  • The portion of the local initiative spent by the initiative recipient, and the portion that lapsed upon completion of the local initiative. 
When presenting the bill before the House Government Transparency Committee in February, Olsen acknowledged that the provisions of HB 682 are contingent upon an approved budget being in place. “Once we have a budget, and if a capital bill is approved by this body, the provisions of HB 682 will go far in shining a light of transparency on a process that many feel is currently quite convoluted.”

If signed into law, HB 682 would take effect on January 1, 2018.
State Representative David S. Olsen joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers on Wednesday in approving legislation that should help close the gender pay gap that exists between men and women in the Illinois workplace.

HB 2462 would strengthen the existing Equal Pay Act of 2003 by prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their previous salary history, including benefit and other compensation costs. “In spite of steps that have been taken over time to ensure equal pay in the workplace, statistics show women still make less as compared to their male counterparts,” said Olsen. “When women look for new employment, disclosing this lower rate of pay only exacerbates the problem.”

According to Olsen, the Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex for issues such as hiring or firing. The Act is enforced by the Department of Labor, and while the 2003 law closed the wage gap to a degree, a disparity still exists. “It makes no sense that in 2017 women are still not earning an identical wage for doing comparable work,” Olsen said. “We need to be doing whatever we can to even the playing field and close the wage gap once and for all.”

The vote of approval for HB 2462 was 91-24. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Legislators spent the last two weeks in their home districts tending to local constituent needs. During this time I had the pleasure of meeting and talking on the phone with many of my constituents about issues of importance. Members of the General Assembly returned to Springfield today to complete the final six weeks of the spring legislative session. This week, State Representatives will finish the process of considering House Bills that have been properly approved at the House Committee level. House Bills that fail to receive approval from the full House by the April 28 deadline will be essentially dead for this year. The Senate follows an identical deadline calendar, so this week our colleagues across the hall will be taking similar action on Senate bills. In May, members of the House will take action on Senate Bills while Senators take action on House Bills. The final month of session is typically a very busy time in Springfield, but I do welcome your comments on legislation. You can always voice your opinions through the contact form at www.repolsen.com, or by phone at (217) 782-6578 (Springfield office) or (630) 737-0504 (Downers Grove office). I value your input, so please do not hesitate to weigh in on legislation that is important to you.

Olsen Joins Cardinal Cupich and Bipartisan Lawmakers for Chicago Walk for Peace
On Good Friday I joined hundreds of Illinoisans for a Walk for Peace through Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Led by Cardinal Cupich, we walked from St. Benedict the African Church on West 66th Street and South Stewart Avenue and through streets that many consider to be among the most dangerous in Chicago. We walked in support of an end to the gun violence that plagues Chicago streets and to show our support for all young people who may be tempted to turn toward a life of violence.

Representatives Olsen and Bellock Honor Former Township Assessor
On April 11 Representative Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) and I had the privilege of presenting an honorary House Resolution at the Downers Grove Township Annual Meeting to commemorate the life of Theresa Cockrell, who served as the Downers Grove Township Assessor from 1983 until her passing earlier this year. She was a dedicated community servant and she will be dearly missed. 

Theresa was a lifelong resident of Downers Grove and she dedicated more than 35 years of her life to Downers Grove Township, serving first as Township Clerk and then as Assessor beginning in 1983. In addition to her township duties, Theresa was a member of the International Association of Assessing Officials and a past President of the DuPage County Assessors Association. You can read the full text of the honorary resolution here.

Illinois Unemployment Rate Drops below 5.0 Percent
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) reported last week that the jobless rate dropped 50 basis points in March, from 5.4% to 4.9%. The new number marked the first time in 10 years that Illinois’ statewide unemployment rate dropped below the benchmark level of 5.0%.

The falling unemployment rate was not a sign of new jobs being created in Illinois. Although the decline in unemployment was significant, Illinois once again saw a net loss in total nonfarm payroll positions tracked by the IDES. Illinois nonfarm payrolls dropped by 8,900 jobs from February 2017 to March 2017. There were significant slowdowns in construction (down 7,100 jobs), professional and business services (down 3,600 jobs), and government (down 1,900 jobs). The decline in unemployment was entirely accounted for by a net decrease of more than 70,000 workers in the Illinois labor force.

Illinois’s unemployment rate, at 4.9% for March 2017, remains higher than the jobless rate for the nation as a whole, which was 4.5% for the same month. Many U.S. states have even lower unemployment rates. For example, high-tech Massachusetts notched an unemployment rate of 3.6% in March.

Mark Your Calendar for Summer/Fall Free Events
My staff and I are putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive list of summer and fall outreach events in and around the 81st District. Please mark your calendar for the following free events:
  • 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
Again, all events are free and open to the public.

Olsen Participates in 911 Call Center Ground Breaking
Earlier this month I was proud to join DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin, public safety officials from across the county, and members of the Downers Grove Police and Fire Departments for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new consolidated DuPage County 911 call center (DUCOMM). The facility is being built on DuPage County’s Wheaton campus, repurposing the former Youth Home building. The $15.8 million project will provide DU-COMM with a state-of-the-art facility, a high-tech communications center that provides a 25-year solution to their agency's facility needs. Consolidating 9-1-1 call centers has saved taxpayers $6.7 million annually, which helps to maximize the use of county tax dollars. 

Olsen Supports Annual Special Olympics Fundraising Race
We had perfect weather on April 15 for the Mustang Trot 5K Race for Special Olympics. Runners had a great run through the streets of Downers Grove, but best of all, we raised money for a terrific cause, the Special Olympics. The event was sponsored by the Downers Grove South High School Key Club. Thanks to the students who organized the race, to all who participated in the 5K, and also to those who came out to support runners. I’m shown in this photo with Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully and Village Commissioner Nicole Walus. 

State Capital’s Newspaper Editorializes Against Stopgap Budget
With thousands of state employees, the state capital city of Springfield is among the Illinois locations hard-hit by the lack of a state budget and concerns about what may come next. However, Springfield’s only daily paper has swung out against the “stopgap” budget plan pushed by Speaker Madigan’s House Democrats.

The State Journal-Register wrote on Saturday, April 8 that the appropriations bill was legislative “political theater.” Pointing out that the bill pretends to spend funds that the State does not have, the SJ-R’s editorial board accused Democratic leaders of creating false hopes and “offering crumbs to a person who hasn’t eaten for a week.” The paper made it clear that the only real solution to Illinois’ growing budget dilemma would come through real negotiations involving all of the key stakeholders. The newspaper concluded that the partisan “stopgap” was “not the answer to Illinois’ impasse.”

Governor Announces Police Training Initiative
With hate crimes and hate-crime reports increasing in Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner recently announced an initiative to work in tandem with the Anti-Defamation League to improve the training of Illinois police officers. Illinois police training and retraining courses include hands-on work intended to help law enforcement officers in the rapid identification and investigation of criminal acts motivated by hate toward a victim or victim group’s race, religion or national origin. The hate crime initiative was announced on Monday, April 10, and marks just one of several steps being taken in Illinois to address hate crimes.

As you may recall, I recently signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor of HB 2390, which is bipartisan legislation that strengthens penalties for those who commit hate crimes in Illinois. While that bill provides tools for law enforcement in the fight against these heinous crimes, I also recently stood with the Governor 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.

Mobile Office Hours Continue to Promote Community Engagement
Last week I held another very successful mobile office hours event in the 81st District. I enjoy these opportunities when I can talk one-on-one with constituents as I bring my office to them in their own community. Last week’s event was held at the Naper Boulevard Library in Naperville and several people stopped by to say hello and ask questions during the 1 ½-hour event. 

Additional mobile office hours dates will be added to my calendar, so visit www.repolsen.com often to find out when I’ll be hosting an event near you. A member of my staff joins me at these events and can help answer questions about services available through the State of Illinois.
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.