In a significant showing of compromise today, State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and 24 other House Republicans in filing a comprehensive pension reform measure that would provide significant savings for taxpayers and a one-time-only $215 million pension parity payment to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

The legislation, filed in Springfield today as HB 4027, would not change benefits for current retirees. However, for current and future participants, the bill:
  • Includes Senate President John Cullerton’s “consideration model” that would require members of TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, and CTPF to exchange their Tier 1 COLA for the right to have future raises to be counted as pensionable, or keep their COLA and sacrifice future raises as pensionable. 
  • Provides a one-time normal cost payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund of $215.2 million for FY 17. 
  • Closes new member participation in GARS. 
  • Offers Tier 1 TRS, SURS, SERS and GARS employees the option to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan. 
  • Creates a voluntary Tier 3 Hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plan for new Tier 2 employees under TRS, SURS, and certain SERS members who do not participate in Social Security.
“There are elements of this comprehensive package that I do not like,” said Olsen. “But in the spirit of compromise and in an effort to show our Democratic colleagues that we are serious about achieving Constitutionally-sound pension reform, my Republican colleagues and I are willing to support this compromise package.”

Olsen rejected his own legislative pension upon taking office last year, and has been a vocal advocate for meaningful pension reform. “Pension reform is a critical element of putting Illinois’ finances back on track, and I have been disappointed that the topic has taken a back seat to other issues lately,” Olsen said. “It is my pleasure to stand with Leader Durkin and many of my House Republican colleagues to push this important legislation.”

Through the provisions of HB 4027, it is estimated the State of Illinois will realize short-term savings of $2.25 billion dollars from the general funds, which represents a substantial step towards closing the deficit gap.

The current General Assembly includes 51 Republicans and 67 Democrats, and Durkin said today’s bill filing should send a clear message that his caucus is willing to do its part to achieve pension reform. “With our 26 votes the House Republicans have provided their pro-rata share of support for a structured roll call vote on this important issue,” said Durkin. “This means we will provide our fair share of votes. The Speaker needs to provide his 34 votes to move this legislation to the Senate.”
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) will be hosting mobile office hours at the Downers Grove Public Library this Friday, March 24.

Olsen and his District Office Director will be available from 10:30 AM until noon at the library, located at 1050 Curtiss Street in Downers Grove. In addition to making himself available for short one-on-one conversations with constituents, Olsen and his staff will be available to help residents with their concerns and issues involving state agencies and programs.

“I hold regular mobile office hours throughout the 81st District so that my constituents have easy access to their representative voice in Springfield,” said Olsen. “I enjoy meeting the people who live in the 81st District and learning about their concerns and priorities.”

No appointment is needed. For additional information, please call Olsen’s office at (630) 737-0504 or visit www.repolsen.com.
Lawmakers Work to Gain Committee Approval of Bills Prior to March 31 Deadline
With just two weeks remaining for House members to move their bills out of a substantive committee, last week we spent most of our time attending committee meetings where we vetted hundreds of bills. We are now also beginning to take votes on the House floor on the initiatives that have successfully cleared a committee. Most of our time will continue to be spent in committees through the end of the month, and during the first two weeks of April we will be taking final action on House Bills on the floor.

Olsen Legislation to Increase and Standardize Requirements for Elected Official Pensions Clears Committee
I hear regularly from constituents who are taxed to their limit and looking for relief. A key part of my legislative agenda this year is an effort to ease the financial pressures placed on taxpayers who fund local government pensions for elected officials. HB 291, which passed unanimously out of the House Personnel & Pensions Committee on Thursday, increases the number of hours per year an elected official must work to become eligible for a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). Today, state law only requires an elected official to work 600 hours per year to become pension-eligible, but the new rule would require 1,000 hours per year for eligibility. This is not a full solution, but it is a definite step in the right direction.

IMRF rules currently require each unit of local government certify the elected positions which meet the hour threshold biannually. HB 291 would set a uniform standard across the state that all eligible elected positions work 1,000 hours. HB 291 will now move to the floor of the House for full consideration and a vote. To hear a portion of my committee testimony, click here.

Pierce Downer Home Receives Landmark Status at Downers Grove Ceremony
On March 11 it was a privilege to attend a ceremony held at Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, where the plaque and certificate of historic landmark status was presented for the Pierce Downer Home which was built by the founder of Downers Grove circa 1840. The day also featured many informative presentations from a variety of stakeholders regarding the importance of advocating, educating and celebrating historic preservation in the village and across the region.

House Republicans Promote Free Solution to Web Site Translation Issue
Last week we spent over a half hour debating a bill on the House floor that would have authorized an expenditure of about $1.5 million to translate portions of the www.ilga.gov web site into Spanish. My colleague State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), spoke up during the debate and asked why we would spend $1.5 million in taxpayer funds to address an issue when free Internet software is available that would produce a more effective and inclusive result. Rep. Wheeler pointed to Google Translator, an Internet tool that can translate any web-based text into several different languages at the click of a button. Best of all, this solution is free; it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime. Anyone with access to the Internet can now find a translated version of www.ilga.gov in any of the most common languages spoken in Illinois simply by clicking on the links below:

Spanish Español
Arabic عربي
Hindi हिन्दी
Chinese (Simplified) 中文简体
Chinese (Traditional) 中文繁體
Japanese 日本語
Korean 한국어
Russian Русский
French Français
German Deutsch
Italian Italiano
Polish Polski
Greek Ελληνικά

The Illinois General Assembly website contains legislator profiles, full text of all legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and State Senate, live audio and video feeds of legislative session and committee hearings; and a wide variety of other legislative information and support services.

Lawmakers Share Springfield Update at District 58 Schools’ Legislative Breakfast
Last week I joined my colleague State Representative Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) at the annual Legislative Breakfast for Downers Grove Elementary School District 58. We provided an update about key legislation in Springfield, discussed the budget impasse, and had a robust discussion of current issues affecting public education. The breakfast was held at O’Neill Middle School in Downers Grove.

House Bills Begin to Move to the Senate
Bills that have been successful at the House Committee level and on the House floor are beginning to arrive in the Illinois Senate for consideration. While I expect to bring some of my own bills to the House floor this week, several initiatives for which I serve as a Chief Co-Sponsor or Co-Sponsor have already made their way across the hall to be considered by our colleagues in the Senate. Some of those bills include:
  • HB 373: I am a Chief Co-Sponsor of this bipartisan bill which seeks to amend the Illinois Local Library Act. The bill would require library boards of trustees to submit financial documents that relate to their annual levy to the governing board of the local municipality no less than 60 days prior to when the tax levy is certified. This legislation is an initiative of village public libraries, and will improve public disclosure of anticipated library tax levies by moving the disclosure date closer to when a levy must actually be approved. 
  • HB 528: This bill creates a tracking system and develops more detailed guidelines for sexual assault evidence tracking. It also expands the current chain of evidence custody procedures to include hospitals, victims and law enforcement. Survivors of sexual assault often turn to hospitals and local law enforcement for help and many victims volunteer to have professionals collect a sexual assault evidence kit to preserve physical evidence. Through the bill, the Illinois State Police may phase in initial participation in the new tracking system by region, volume or other appropriate classifications, with all who have custody of sexual assault evidence kits fully participating by July 1, 2019.
  • HB 1805: This legislation would allow the Secretary of State Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices to offer to each applicant for issuance or renewal of a driver's license or identification card who is 16 years of age or older (rather than 18 years of age or older) the opportunity to have his or her name included in the First Person Consent organ and tissue donor registry. The bill also includes a provision that upon the death of a donor who is an unemancipated minor, the parent or guardian of the donor may amend or revoke the anatomical gift of the donor's body.
  • HB 3161: In an effort to address the growing opioid abuse problem in DuPage County and across the state, this bill would require the Department of Human Services to create and maintain a website to educate the public on heroin and prescription opioid abuse. At a minimum, the website would have to include:
    • Information on the warning signs of heroin and prescription opioid addiction 
    • Helpful hints for parents on how to discuss the dangers of heroin and prescription opioid addiction with their children
    • Information on available treatment options and services
    • A listing of the toll-free number established by the Department to provide information and referral services for persons with questions concerning substance abuse and treatment
    • Links to flyers and resources for download
Olsen Meets with Advocacy Group to Discuss Illinois Rare Disease Commission
Earlier this month it was my pleasure to meet with families from around the state who were in Springfield lobbying for support for loved ones afflicted with rare diseases. I am the House Republican designee to the Illinois Rare Disease Commission, and we will meet at least four times this year (without compensation). We will study issues such as prescription drugs and innovative therapies for children, adults and any specific sub-population with rare diseases, with a focus on providing assistance on health care coverage and responsibilities associated with promoting quality care for individuals with rare diseases. The panel will also recommend legislative solutions to improve care and treatment, screening for newborns and other issues as the commission deems appropriate. The commission will submit an annual report to the General Assembly no later than December 31 of each year until the commission disbandment date of January 1, 2020. I am enjoying this commission assignment and am honored to provide patients – many of whom are too young or sick to speak for themselves – a voice in Springfield. 

Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Mobile Office Hours
I enjoy the outreach events that allow me to visit face-to-face with the constituents I represent in Springfield. My next mobile office hours event is set for this Friday, March 24, from 10:30 AM until noon at the Downers Grove Public Library, 1050 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove. Additional dates and locations will be added throughout the spring and summer. Visit www.repolsen.com for more information as dates are finalized.
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) is taking steps to ease the financial pressures placed on taxpayers who fund local government pensions for elected officials.

HB 291, which passed unanimously out of the House Personnel & Pensions Committee on Thursday, increases the number of hours per year an elected official must work to become eligible for a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). Today, state law only requires an elected official to work 600 hours per year to become pension-eligible, but the new rule would require 1,000 hours per year for eligibility. “While I value the work of all public officials, taxpayers simply cannot afford to pay for pensions for those who are only working a very limited number of hours,” said Olsen. “This is not a full solution, but it is a definite step in the right direction.”

IMRF rules currently require each unit of local government certify the elected positions which meet the hour threshold biannually. HB 291 would set a uniform standard across the state that all eligible elected positions work 1,000 hours. “I hear regularly from constituents who are taxed to their limit, and this is one way to help control costs that are passed down to taxpayers,” Olsen said.

HB 291 will now move to the floor of the House for full consideration and a vote.

To hear a portion of Rep. Olsen's committee testimony on the bill, click here.
Olsen Co-Sponsors Legislation to Freeze Lawmaker Pay
Yesterday in Springfield, a bill I co-sponsored that eliminates pay raises for Illinois lawmakers for the upcoming fiscal year was approved in the House. HB 643 prohibits any raise for the time period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. In addition, mileage reimbursement amounts for members of the House and Senate would continue to be frozen. As lawmakers struggle with Illinois’ immense financial pressures, we need to lead by example. I am more than willing to forego a pay increase or cost-of-living adjustment to send a message that we take the state’s financial woes very seriously and want to be part of the solution.

General Assembly Celebrates Chicago Cubs Day in Springfield
There was a great deal of excitement swirling around the Capitol on Wednesday, as news traveled that Chicago Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts and Hall of Fame Second Baseman Ryne Sandberg were in town for the latest stop of the Cubs Trophy Tour. As our day began, a joint session of the House and Senate gathered to watch the coveted trophy make its way to the front of the House chamber.

Mr. Ricketts spoke to the lawmakers about the three goals set by his family when they became owners of the ball club, including:
  • Winning the World Series
  • Preserving and improving Wrigley Field
  • Doing more for the Wrigleyville community
He also thanked Illinoisans for their love and support of the team over the many years that led to the 2016 Championship. Following the festivities at the Capitol, the trophy was available for public viewing at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, where Cub fans lined up as early as 6:00 AM for their chance to see this important part of sports history.

Legislation to Improve Efficiency within SURS Clears House
This year I am partnering on bipartisan legislation to improve the efficiency to the administration of the State University Retirement System (SURS) Fund. Specifically, HB 368 authorizes the SURS board secretary to issue subpoenas to obtain information to assist in the collection of money due to the system, the determination of the death of a benefit recipient and the obtaining of personal identifying information that aids with the administration of SURS benefits. With its House approval this week, the bill now awaits assignment to a Senate committee.

Rep. Olsen Celebrates University of Illinois Sesquicentennial
Happy 150th Birthday to the University of Illinois! I was honored to attend the University’s Sesquicentennial Luncheon on February 28 with State Rep. Tim Butler, U of I President Tim Killeen, U of I Board Chairman Tim Koritz and many others who wanted to help to celebrate this important milestone. As a 2011 graduate of the University of Illinois and Student Body President during my senior year, I have fond memories of my alma mater and enjoyed returning to campus for this celebration.

Illinois Toll Highway Authority to Eliminate Plastic Coin Collection Buckets
In another move intended to discourage the payment of tolls in cash, the Illinois tollway authority plans to remove the familiar plastic bucket cones into which motorists can throw coins. The cones, which are posted on tollway cash pay lanes, feed coins into electromechanical coin-counting machines. They will be replaced by new electronic touch screens that will accept credit cards, bills, and coins.

The new pay screens will be more convenient for many users than former pay lanes that required exact change in coins. However, many tollway users have mounted small I-PASS transponders in their cars and they no longer pay cash tolls to the highway agency. This switchover will not affect I-PASS users. The Tollway Authority prefers I-PASS use because of administrative costs of handling cash as opposed to electronic payments. On Monday, February 27, the Authority told the press that they still had 100 coin-counting cones deployed on their network of highways, mostly at unmanned tollway exit ramps.

Fire Chiefs Visit Springfield for Annual Lobby Day
I was glad to spend time on Wednesday with Lisle/Woodridge Fire District Chief Keith Krestan. Chief Krestan was part of a coalition of fire chiefs who were in Springfield this week to discuss public safety issues impacting our State. Senator Connelly (R-Lisle) and I met with Chief Krestan to discuss many issues related to the fire service.

State Senate Continues Discussion of “Grand Bargain”
On February 28, the Senate passed five measures as part of the so-called “grand bargain”. However, the Senate did not approve several of the other key elements of the “grand bargain” reform package. I hope that Senators from both sides of the aisle can continue to work together to agree upon a compromise budget with the important reforms our State needs.

As we all know, budget challenges continue to affect the State of Illinois. Unfortunately, the February 2017 monthly revenue report and estimate released by the nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) indicated a continued decline in State general funds tax revenues in February 2017. Personal income tax revenues decreased in February 2017 by $129 million from the same levels of taxes paid in one year earlier. Illinois corporate income tax revenues have practically dried up, with only $9 million (down 81%) received from this source in February 2017.

Olsen Attends Citizen of the Year Event in Darien
Congratulations to Steve Hiatt, the 2017 Darien Citizen of the Year! Darien Mayor Kathleen Weaver and I were among the many elected officials and community members on hand for the celebration last Saturday evening. Steven Hiatt moved to Darien in 1998 and immediately became active in the city's events and organizations. In 2003, he became a member of the Darien Lions Club where he served in many positions of leadership. He has also been a liaison with the Chamber of Commerce for recruiting volunteers and working in various areas for DarienFest. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Darien Historical Society and assists with the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church Food Drive and Toys for Joy. His commitment to the community is inspirational, and I thank him for his public service.

Site Selection Magazine Honors Illinois as Potential Location for Job Creation
A magazine aimed at CEOs and corporate executives has honored Illinois as one of the top states in the U.S. with the most qualifying new and expanded facilities per capita. A total of 434 new job-creating projects of the types tracked by Site Selection were announced in 2016. In the eyes of the magazine, this made Illinois the No. 3 “site selection” state in the U.S. in 2016, with Texas and Ohio as #1 and #2.

Projects tracked by Site Selection include corporate headquarters, manufacturing plants, R&D operations, and logistics sites. They must involve a capital investment off at least $1 million, create at least 20 new jobs, or add at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area. Illinois House Republicans have made a priority in recent years to push for new logistics sites, with the General Assembly enacting changes to Illinois tax law to encourage this class of investment and job-creating activity.

Site Selection noted that almost all of the private-sector investment activities they tracked in 2016 were concentrated in the Chicago area. Of the new Tier 1 job-creating projects noted by the magazine, 424 were located in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin expanded Chicagoland metropolitan area.

Olsen Tours Ray Graham House and Easter Seals Facility
Last week I was able to tour two facilities that provide critical services to many families in the 81st District. On March 2, I had a wonderful opportunity to meet with Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley President Theresa Forthofer, and tour their Villa Park facility. That same week, Kim Zoeller, President of Ray Graham Association, hosted me at one of their Downers Grove homes for women with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We spent over an hour discussing state issues, especially the challenges surrounding the current budget impasse. Thanks to both of these organizations for the work they do on behalf of families in our district and across the State.

Olsen Mobile Office Hours Continue
I had a great turnout at my last mobile office hours event at the Lisle Public Library and appreciate those who came out to share their views on a variety of topics. I enjoy these opportunities to connect with my constituents, and have scheduled my next mobile office hours event for Friday, March 24, from 10:30 AM until noon at the Downers Grove Public Library, 1050 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove. Additional dates and locations will be added throughout the spring and summer. Visit www.repolsen.com for more information as dates are finalized.
State Representative David S. Olsen (R-Downers Grove) is co-sponsoring legislation that eliminates pay raises for Illinois lawmakers for the upcoming fiscal year.

HB 3790, which has been assigned to the House Executive Committee for a hearing, would prohibit any raise for the time period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. In addition, mileage reimbursement amounts for members of the House and Senate would be frozen at the FY 2017 level.

“In the midst of this financial crisis, lawmakers need to lead by example and not add to increased costs of state government,” said Olsen. “Through this bill we are sending a message that we take the situation seriously and are willing to be part of the solution.”

The current base salary for a State Representative is $67,836.