Legislative Update: April 3, 2017

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.

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