Legislative Update: May 1, 2017

The General Assembly reconvened last week for what will be a series of session days concluding on May 31, the adjournment date mandated by the Illinois Constitution. Discussions of the State’s revenue picture, spending needs, and budget responsibilities are expected to dominate discussions during these final weeks of the spring session. The General Assembly website continues to provide real-time updates on schedules of the Illinois House and Senate, and the progress of bills and other actions being considered by the Illinois House and its committees.

The content of several of the bills being brought forward for consideration in the House right now is disappointing. Nothing is more important than coming together and passing a balanced budget, yet few items considered last week actually addressed this challenge. With time running out, we must do better. Neither side can do it alone; that’s the reality with a divided government. I know that Leader Durkin and my House Republicans colleagues are ready – we ask that leaders on the other side of the aisle work with us to fix the issues that have been plaguing our state for too many years.

Olsen Transparency Bill Clears IL House
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 the money will be used. Last Wednesday I passed important transparency legislation that addresses that very issue. 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 
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 the General Assembly, 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. Shortly after the bill’s passage I gave a radio interview during which I spoke in detail about the bill. You can listen to that interview here.

Olsen Advances Legislation to Increase Time Frame for Public Notification for Ballot Referenda
Based on an incident last November involving legal challenges to successful referenda in the suburban area, I passed legislation in the House last week that increases the period of time during which taxing bodies must publish public questions that will be put before voters. 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 before the election.

In the November 2016 election, voters in the Bloomingdale Park District, Lombard Library District, Hinsdale Elementary School District 181 and Salt Creek Elementary School District 48 each approved referendum proposals that appeared on their respective ballots. In each instance, the required posting of the question appeared three days earlier than the election code’s narrow posting window. Especially with early voting growing in popularity in Illinois, providing greater notice to voters improves the process and the ability for voters to become informed on local issues. HB 512 passed in a unanimous vote. The bill now moves to the Senate.

University of Illinois Undergrads Showcase Research Projects at Capitol
University of Illinois students from the Urbana-Champaign, Springfield and Chicago campuses were at the Capitol last Tuesday to share their undergraduate research projects with legislators. I had the opportunity to speak with Grace Wackerman of Western Springs, who is a freshman studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, about her outstanding research project about the power grid in Illinois. Amazing work!

Olsen to Offer Summer Internship
This summer I am offering one rising high school senior or college student an opportunity to do a paid internship in my Downers Grove office. As an intern for the 81st Legislative House District, this individual will learn about the inner workings of a legislative office while assisting my District Office Director and me with important projects. If you know someone who would be interested in gaining this type of experience, please send the following as soon as possible to my Downers Grove office at 633 Rogers Street, Suite 108, Downers Grove, IL 60515:
  • Letter of interest
  • Two names plus contact information for references
  • A resume
The deadline for applications is Monday, May 22 at 4:00 PM.

Olsen Supports Bill to Help Close Gender Pay Gap
In spite of steps that have been taken over time to ensure equal pay between men and women in the workplace, statistics show women still make less as compared to their male counterparts. On Wednesday, I joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in approving legislation that should help close the gender pay gap that exists 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. 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 is my hope that the passage of HB 2462 will further close that gap. The vote of approval for HB 2462 was 91-24, and the bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. To hear more about this bill, click here.

Olsen Attends Fundraising Event for Family Shelter Service
On Saturday, April 22, I had a wonderful time at the Family Shelter Service annual gala in Naperville. This valuable community agency was founded in 1976 and supports victims of domestic violence throughout DuPage County. I’m shown in this photo with Family Shelter Service Executive Director Judie Caribeaux, my mother Pam Stephan and Downers Grove resident Grant Sahr. You can learn more about the great work this agency is doing by visiting their web site at www.familyshelterservice.org

Olsen Joins Community Leaders for Library Anniversary Celebration
Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) and I recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Woodridge Library by sharing a proclamation at their celebration event. The Library is an outstanding community resource for Woodridge, and we look forward to another great 50 years to come! 

Hate Crime Bill Co-Sponsored by Olsen Moves to SenateLast Thursday, an important piece of bipartisan legislation that strengthens penalties for those who commit hate crimes was approved in the House and sent over to the Senate. I was proud to serve as a Chief Co-Sponsor of this bill. 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.

Realtors from 81st District Visit Springfield on Lobby Day
Realtors from throughout the 81st District were in Springfield last week as part of the Illinois Association of Realtors’ annual lobby day. Hundreds of professional realtors from across the state met with lawmakers about their legislative priorities for the 100th General Assembly. I was glad to spend some time with a group from the 81st District. We had a productive conversation and I hope they enjoyed their time at the Capitol. 

Illinois Awarded $16 Million Grant to Fight Opioid Crisis
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) was recently awarded a federal grant for over $16 million to fight Illinois’ opioid crisis. The grant is funded through the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes an estimated $1 billion to states over the next two years to combat the nation’s opioid crises. Grants will be administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration under the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant program.

The grant supports new treatment and recovery services, including the establishment of an Opioid Crisis Line and expanded medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder. The funding will also support opioid-related enhancements to the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), the launch of a statewide opiate awareness campaign, new pilot programs to provide medications to treat opioid use disorder, and pre-release and post-release services for individuals who are incarcerated in county jails. In addition, this award will support a widespread expansion of the training of first responders to an opioid overdose and the availability of the overdose reversal medication Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan.

Drug overdose deaths in this country nearly tripled from 1999 to 2014. Among the 47,055 drug overdose deaths that occurred in the U.S. in 2014, 28,647 (60.9 percent) involved an opioid. Like many states, Illinois has recently experienced a notable increase in drug overdose deaths that can primarily be attributed to an increase in opioid overdose deaths. Provisional death records data obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) show 2,278 drug-related overdose deaths during 2016. This represents a 44.3 percent increase over the 1,579 drug-related overdose deaths that were reported by IDPH for 2013. Through the Illinois Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council, The Illinois Department of Human Services and many other state agencies are coordinating the state’s efforts to develop a statewide opioid epidemic preparedness and prevention strategy.

Olsen Attends Swearing In Ceremony for New Lisle Officials
Yesterday I was honored to attend the swearing-in ceremony for new Lisle Mayor Chris Pecak and for newly elected Trustees Anthony Carballo, Kelly Dixit, and Marie Hasse. I’m shown in this photo with (L-R) State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), Mayor Pecak and State Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville). Congratulations to all newly-elected public officials! I look forward to working with you with regard to our shared constituencies.

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