Legislative Update: September 18, 2017

Olsen Joins Bipartisan Lawmakers from Eight States in Effort to End Gerrymandering of Political Maps
Take a look at these two maps and see the vast difference in how legislative maps are drawn in Iowa as compared to the State of Illinois. In Iowa, a small group of nonpartisan mapmakers sequester themselves in a room, and no politician may weigh in, provide suggestions, or get a preview of the map before it is released. The mapmakers are not allowed to consider previous election results, voter registrations or addresses of sitting elected officials when drawing maps. They simply adhere to nonpartisan demographic metrics.

In Illinois, on the other hand, maps drawn by politicians can silence voters and weaken our system of democracy. Though our map process, majority party politicians are able to draw district boundaries that protect their majority status. Not only do they draw maps so they can choose who they represent, they also draw districts that pit incumbents from minority parties against each other, thus strengthening majority party power.

I recently joined a bipartisan coalition of 65 lawmakers from eight states who are taking the case against gerrymandered political maps to the U.S. Supreme Court. A total of 26 Republicans and 39 Democrats from Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Maryland are joining forces for the suit. Twelve Illinois Senators and five Illinois State Representatives are part of the coalition.

Our brief, which urges the Court to invalidate the practice of political gerrymandering, was filed this month in Washington, D.C. in connection with Gill v Whitford, a redistricting case that challenges the legitimacy of political gerrymandering, and could have a profound effect on the nation’s electoral and political process in the future. The case will be argued before the Supreme Court on October 3, 2017. In Gill v. Whitford, Wisconsin state officials are appealing a lower court ruling that the state’s redistricting plan went to such extremes in its political gerrymandering that it violated protections given to voters by the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The Illinois map is obviously a prime example of extreme gerrymandering. We must end this practice, so voters can choose their representatives and not the other way around.

Olsen Attends 9/11 Commemoration Event in Woodridge
On September 11 it was a privilege to attend a 9/11 commemoration service held by the Woodridge Police and the Lisle-Woodridge Fire departments. We must never forget those who lost their lives during the vicious terrorist attack on September 11, 2011, and it was an honor to stand with local members of law enforcement and first responders as we remember the victims of 9/11, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty after the attack.

Rep. Olsen Sets Mobile Office Hours for Thursday, September 28 in Woodridge
Next week I will continue with my mobile office hours tour with a September 28 event in Woodridge. My staff and I will have a table set up from 10:00 AM until 11:30 AM at the Woodridge Public Library, 3 Plaza Drive, in Woodridge. These outreach events provide me with an excellent opportunity to connect with the people I represent in Springfield. By talking with constituents and learning about the state issues that are important to them, I am able to bring their priorities to Springfield by serving as their voice. No appointment is needed, and the event is open to all residents who live in the 81st Legislative House District. Future mobile office hours dates and locations will be posted on my web site at www.repolsen.com.

Rep. Olsen’s Property Tax Event in Downers Grove Draws Large Crowd
On Saturday, September 9, nearly 100 taxpayers from the 81st Legislative House District attended a free property tax forum I hosted in Downers Grove. Those in attendance learned about the property tax assessment process and how to challenge an assessment that is believed to be inaccurate. I was joined at the event by Downers Grove Township Assessor Greg Boltz, Lisle Township Assessor John Trowbridge and DuPage Township Assessor Jean Kelly. Together we spoke to residents about the process that ties the value of a home to the eventual tax bill that arrives in an owner’s mailbox. We also spoke about exemptions and freezes that could lower tax bills in certain circumstances, and outlined the steps required for appealing an assessment. A question and answer session was also a part of the two-hour event.

It was a pleasure to partner with these local experts for this successful forum. The procedure utilized to create assessments and tax bills can be tedious and confusing, and I was pleased to offer a program where people could learn about the process and have their questions answered.

Click here to view the presentation slides that were used during the forum, which includes contact information for all three assessors.

Amazon Urged to Pick Illinois for its New Headquarters
The Seattle-based retailing giant Amazon has announced that it is running out of headquarters space in its current city and would like to open a second headquarters in a centralized U.S. location. The second headquarters could contain as many as 50,000 workers, who would occupy a potential 8 million square feet of office space to be constructed for as much as $5 billion. Amazon has cited good transportation, strong schools, and a tech-oriented workforce as elements in their decision. 

Amazon headquarters operations oversee the firm’s network of warehouses, transfer stations and delivery solutions for the firm’s hundreds of millions of customers worldwide. Chicago, with the nation’s largest workforce skilled in logistics technology, would be highly suited to serve as Amazon’s choice. Competition for the selection is expected to be heavy.

Olsen Welcomes AMS Mechanical Systems to Woodridge
Earlier this month I joined members of Chamber630 for a ribbon cutting ceremony that celebrated a new employer that recently joined the Woodridge community. AMS Mechanical Systems is a full service mechanical contracting firm that serves the chemical, food, process, manufacturing and power industries. Their beautiful new 145,000 square foot building in the Union Point industrial business park near I-355 and I-55 is a very welcome addition to Woodridge and the 81st District. Welcome to Woodridge, AMS!

Equifax Data Breach: What You Should Know
Equifax, an Atlanta based credit-rating agency, suffered a security breach on July 29th that exposed sensitive information of millions of Americans. The compromised information included social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, birthdays, and addresses. It has been determined that 5.4 million Illinois residents have been affected by the breach. The company has set up a website where you can check if your personal information was affected by the breach: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

Illinois residents should take this breach seriously and consider the following steps to protect themselves from the possibility of identity theft:
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax;
  • Regularly request your free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on your financial accounts so your financial institution alerts you when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don't open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.
If you have questions about this data breach, please contact Equifax at 866-447-7559, or the Illinois Attorney General’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1 (866) 999-5630.

Olsen Supports Local Event to Raise Funds for Recreation and Education
On Saturday, September 9, I was glad to support the The Grove Foundation's 25th Annual Golf Outing at the Downers Grove Golf Club. The Grove Foundation exists to enrich the lives of community members by identifying, supporting, and promoting recreational, educational, and community experiences through innovative and collaborative efforts.

During the 25-year history of this 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the Grove Foundation has raised and given back $210,000 to the community through support of programs promoting recreational and educational experiences. Thank you for making such a positive difference!

Local Business Group Invites Rep. Olsen to Provide Springfield Update
Earlier this month I had an opportunity to speak to a group of local business leaders at a meeting of the Chamber630 L.O.D.G.E. business referral group in Downers Grove. I provided a brief update about issues of interest in Springfield and took questions on a wide variety of state issues with a particular focus on improving the climate for business in Illinois. I appreciated the invitation and was glad to have a chance to answer their questions.

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