Legislative Update: March 5, 2018

Olsen Files Comprehensive 2018 Legislative Agenda
Legislators’ bills are now working their way through the Springfield legislative process, and this year my legislative agenda includes 22 House Bills and four House Resolutions that will protect taxpayers, enhance government transparency and improve the Illinois business climate. You can read about my taxpayer protection bills here, and you can read about my government improvement and transparency bills here. Bills that aim to improve the business climate include: 
  • HB 5003: Ensures local governments provide appropriate notification of potential zoning or land use changes to allow adequate time for public review and input by both businesses and residents. 
  • HB 5139: Provides a framework to encourage the creation of new small businesses in Illinois by allowing limited access to the Illinois marketplace to test innovations in financial products or services without excessive regulation. 
  • HB 5738: Reduces fraud by increasing the penalty for transacting business in Illinois without authority, and sets monthly fines for businesses that fail to issue an annual report. 
A full list of my bills for the current 100th General Assembly can be found here. To follow bills that include 2018 bill action, look for legislation with a “last action date” of 2018.

House Takes Action in Wake of Mass Shooting at Florida School
The Second Amendment is a core element of our Bill of Rights that protects Americans’ right to own and keep firearms. Applications of this right have been upheld in both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Illinois Supreme Court. In that context, government has the authority and responsibility to put limited regulations in place to protect public safety and ensure this basic right is preserved for all. In the wake of continued violence in our cities and mass shootings across the nation, we cannot throw our collective hands up, wish times were better and do nothing to try to stop gun violence. Conversely, we must also not make hasty, ill-considered decisions that trample upon the constitutional rights of Americans. 
Several bills intended to address gun violence were brought forward in the Illinois House last week. I weighed each bill carefully with an aim to support measures that improve public safety without impeding core constitutional rights. In that vein, I was able to support several pieces of legislation, including a bill to implement a state licensing system for gun dealers and a bill to prohibit bump stocks. I opposed other bills which were too broad and were not appropriately targeted toward improving public safety.

Prior to the votes, I spoke about the importance of balancing Constitutional rights with enhanced public safety. Click here to watch my floor comments.

Olsen Working with Metra on Service Reliability Issues
I hear almost daily from constituents who are paying higher rates this year for a lower quality of Metra rail service. Delays have become more frequent, and for the thousands of 81st District residents who rely on Metra to get to and from work every day, frustration is extremely high. On February 15 I sent a letter to Metra Chairman Norman Carlson and expressed my concerns about regular service disruptions at the Downers Grove Main Street, Belmont and Fairview Avenue train stations, as well as at the Naperville, Lisle and Westmont stations which are also widely used by residents of the 81st District. In the letter, I asked Chairman Carlson to specifically respond to the following questions: 
  • Why have there been significant delays on the Metra BNSF line in recent months? 
  • What is Metra doing to restore service reliability on the BNSF line in the near term? 
  •  What long term plans does Metra have to improve service reliability? 
  • What steps can the General Assembly take to improve Metra service? 
You can read that letter here.

Chairman Carlson responded to my office on February 23 with this letter. In his response letter he pointed to ice, snow and the use of road salt as contributing factors, and said freight trains, which also use the lines, cause some additional delays. Chairman Carlson added that many delays are the result of mechanical problems such as locomotive failure or broken hoses, and that because the BNSF line has an intricate infrastructure which allows for more frequent trains, more express trains and greater interaction with freight trains, there are more opportunities for problems which often have a domino effect on the timing of other trains. He assured me that Metra and BNSF leaders are actively working to address these issues to improve service reliability.

I appreciate the speed with which Chairman Carlson responded to my concerns and I look forward to continuing to work with him on solutions that will improve service reliability on the BNSF and all Metra rail lines.

Illinois House Passes Bills Intended to Assess Hospitals for Federal Healthcare Funding
Under current federal law, part of Illinois’ federal funding for health care is raised through an assessment process. Funds are collected from Illinois hospitals and used as seed money to request matching funds from Washington, D.C. SB 1573 and SB 1773 allow this assessment program to continue with cash flows reflecting ongoing changes in health care and the health care professions. On Wednesday, February 28, the House passed SB 1573 by a vote of 110-0-1 and passed SB 1773 by a vote of 107-0-0.

Passage of these two bills was necessary because the current 2008 hospital assessment program will sunset on June 30, 2018. Enactment of this legislation will bring $3.5 billion in federal money into our State to support its healthcare infrastructure. Through a six-month-long cycle of meetings chaired on a bipartisan basis by members of the Illinois General Assembly, Illinois hospitals agreed to the specifications of the new assessment system. One key element of the new assessment system is a program of enhanced funding for challenged Illinois hospitals, including rural and inner-city safety-net hospitals. Of the money generated by these measures, 58% is expected to go to safety-net hospitals.

Olsen Presents Proclamation Recognizing Eating Disorders Awareness Week at Downers Grove South High School
Eating disorders are serious, biologically-based illnesses that affect millions of people every year and can be life-threatening. Last week I visited Downers Grove South High School and presented a proclamation recognizing the week of February 25 as Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Illinois. The proclamation from Governor Bruce Rauner was presented to Linda Lewaniak of the Chicago Eating Recovery Center and several student leaders from Downers Grove South. I was glad to be able to shine a light on the importance of research, diagnosis and treatment of these disorders which too often remain in the shadows. In addition to the Governor’s proclamation, this year I filed House Resolution 710 recognizing the week of February 25 as Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Illinois. The resolution received unanimous House support on Thursday. 

Darien’s Jim Kiser Named 2018 Citizen of the Year
Two weeks ago it was my privilege to be on hand as the Darien City Council proclaimed resident Jim Kiser as their 2018 Citizen of the Year. Jim is an active community volunteer and has been involved with the Darien Lions Club for many years. He also helps the local Chamber of Commerce with their annual Darienfest, and has been an active member of Our Lady of Peace parish for more than 20 years. I’m shown in this picture with Jim, Mayor Kathleen Weaver and Congressman Peter Roskam. 

Olsen Tours Association for Individual Development Facility in Aurora
I had a wonderful time recently as I toured the Aurora office of the Association for Individual Development (AID). The staff does tremendous work every day toward their mission of helping empower individuals with physical, developmental, intellectual and mental health challenges to enjoy lives of dignity and purpose. The association was organized in 1961 by the parents of eight children with special needs, and today the organization has grown to serve more than 6,500 children and adults annually throughout the greater Fox Valley. AID services include job training and employment, autism services, housing supports, counseling, health care services, psychiatric and crisis intervention services, and family and community support. 

Rep. Olsen Welcomes Rare Disease Advocates to Springfield
February 28 was Rare Disease Day at the Capitol. I am proud to be a member of the Rare Disease Commission for Illinois and was glad to welcome the advocates to Springfield and speak to them during a morning meeting. The 15-member Rare Disease Commission was created in 2016. We meet at least four times per year, and 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. All commission members serve without compensation. 

COD Students Earn Distinguished Project Merit Award
At the end of February I joined Congressman Peter Roskam at College of DuPage (COD) where we honored Architecture Professor Mark Pearson and his students for receiving a 2017 Distinguished Project Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects’ Northeast Illinois Chapter. The students designed, built and installed a gathering pavilion on the COD campus in Glen Ellyn. I am pictured in the photo with architecture student Malak Saadeh, Professor Pearson, Congressman Roskam, COD Board Chairman Deanne Mazzochi, and COD President Dr. Ann Rondeau.

No comments :