Legislative Update: April 24, 2017

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.

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