Legislative Update: April 9, 2018

General Assembly Returns to Springfield for Busy Committee Week
Lawmakers return to Springfield today for a very busy week of committee hearings and floor action. Friday, April 13 is the deadline by which all House Bills must receive approval by a substantive committee. I will personally be presenting bills before the Judiciary-Civil, Human Services, Cities & Villages, Elections & Campaign Finance, Agriculture & Conservation, and Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committees this week.

Education Town Hall Draws Large Crowd in Downers Grove
On Thursday, April 5, more than 100 people joined Senator John F. Curran (R-Downers Grove), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Director of Assessment & Accountability Rae Clementz, ISBE Director of Legislative Affairs Sarah Hartwig, and me for a productive town hall meeting that focused on the assessments used in Illinois public schools including PARCC and the SAT. In my conversations with constituents in the 81st District, I find that many residents have questions and concerns about the assessments used in our public school classrooms. I was pleased to partner with Senator Curran and ISBE to provide information and offer residents an opportunity to deliver feedback and have their questions answered. Thanks to all who came out for this informational event. You can view the presentation slides from the event here, and video of the event will soon be available on my web site. I’ll also soon share on my web site written responses from ISBE to questions we were unable to cover at the forum. 

Rep. Olsen Champions Legislation to Strengthen Cyberstalking Law
Stalking has grown beyond physical shadowing to also cover conduct on social media. This year I am proud to be the Chief Co-Sponsor of HB 5829, which expands the definition of these criminal acts and the course of conduct that encompasses them, to cover the sending of unwanted messages via social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Stalking and the liability atmosphere created by this conduct are now also encompassing Illinois institutions. HB 5829 would grant standing to churches, workplaces, and schools to initiate citizen complaints intended to conclude in a charge of stalking. The bill would also authorize a court to order that a violator subject to a stalking no contact order must submit to a mental health evaluation or wear an electronic monitoring device as a condition of receiving the no contact order.

Olsen Helps Kick Off Child Abuse Prevention Month
Last Thursday I was honored to attend the Child Abuse Prevention Month blue bow kick-off event at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. This year’s theme, “Supporting Great Childhoods”, is a call to action to help prevent child abuse and neglect by providing parents and families with support for children to thrive. 

In FY2017, there were 252,568 calls to the Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline resulting in an average of 1,500 investigations per week in Illinois. The impact of abuse on children manifests itself in many ways. Children may experience a range of emotional, psychological and physical problems and trauma as a result of being abused or neglected. Abused and neglected children are more likely to be self-destructive or aggressive, to abuse drugs and/or alcohol or become young offenders.

Please call the 24-hour Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline at 800-25-ABUSE (800-252-2873) or TTY 1-800-358-5117) if you suspect that a child has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed by abuse or neglect. If you believe a child is in immediate danger of harm, call 911 first. More information can be found online at the DCFS Child Protection web site.

Olsen and Curran Host Second Coffee & Conversation Event
We had another great turnout last week when Senator John F. Curran and I hosted our second Coffee & Conversation event. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), and Darien Mayor Kathleen Weaver joined us for the event, which was held at the Blueberry Hill Breakfast CafĂ© in Darien. We had good conversations with many constituents about issues of importance in Illinois. 

Taxpayers to Receive Full Benefit of Prepaid Property Taxes
Shortly after the U.S. Congress passed legislation in December eliminating the unlimited property tax deduction on itemized returns in favor of a capped $10,000 deduction for 2018 and beyond, suburban homeowners flooded county treasurers' offices to prepay their 2017 property taxes payable in 2018 to maximize their 2017 federal tax deductions. However, an IRS advisory issued in late December raised question whether homeowners could deduct those payments. Congressman Peter Roskam wrote a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department seeking clarification on the issue. Click here to read Roskam’s letter and click here to read the U.S. Treasury response. I am happy to report that Illinois homeowners who prepaid property taxes at the end of 2017 can definitely deduct that payment from their itemized income tax returns.

Rep. Olsen Visits Community Adult Day Care Center
On Thursday it was my pleasure to visit Community Adult Day Center in Downers Grove. The center is a nonprofit organization that offers families a quality, affordable care option or complimentary support to in-home care or assisted living and may help adults stay in their homes longer. The center, located in the heart of the 81st District, has provided an interactive, safe, and compassionate environment for adults who cannot safely be left alone, with a focus on their mental, physical, and emotional well-being since 1986. Community Adult Day Center operates Mondays through Fridays and serves residents from across our district and beyond. Click here to learn more about this wonderful community organization. 

Hundreds Brave Cold Weather to Participate in 2018 Mustang Trot 5K
Cold weather over the weekend did not stop a large group of runners and walkers from coming out for the 2018 Mustang Trot 5K, sponsored by the Downers Grove South Key Club. Proceeds from the event benefited the LUNGevity Foundation. LUNGevity is the nation’s leading lung cancer-focused non-profit, where dedicated professionals are working to change outcomes for people with lung cancer through research, education and support. I was glad to run in this annual 5K with Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully and Downers Grove Village Commissioner Nicole Walus. 

State Board Finalizes Evidence-Based Funding for Fiscal Year 2018 On Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued vouchers to the Illinois State Comptroller, paving the way for $295 million in tier funding from the new Evidence-Based School Funding Formula to flow to the most under-resourced school districts in Illinois. “Implementing a radically new funding formula required extraordinary effort by ISBE staff and school districts,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “I deeply appreciate Governor Rauner and the General Assembly’s commitment through the passage, cleanup, and distribution of this historic first year of Evidence-Based Funding.” Click here to view the complete model of fiscal year 2018 Evidence-Based Funding calculations. You can learn more about the Evidence-Based Funding formula here.

First Illinois Laws Available for Public Viewing
When Illinois became a state in 1818, its first General Assembly had to enact a law code to govern the new state. The first law code was enacted in the then-state capitol of Kaskaskia in southwestern Illinois. A law code totaling 387 pages was composed in lead type, set up letter by letter by a print shop. The law code had to provide for the needs of a frontier state. For example, a law printed on page 111 orders all county sheriffs to “quell and suppress all affrays, riots, routs and insurrections, and all species of crimes and breaches of the peace.” 

Copies of the 1819 law code continue to exist to this day and can be accessed through the “Laws of Illinois” website operated by Western Illinois University (WIU). The Laws of Illinois website, which provides access to laws and legal texts from throughout Illinois’ history, was recognized this week as an official Illinois Bicentennial Project.

Illinois State Police to Begin Providing Prescription Drug Collection Receptacles The Illinois State Police (ISP) is teaming up with the Save a Star Drug Awareness Foundation to help decrease prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse. Five ISP District headquarters across the state will house receptacles for people to drop off their unused and unwanted prescription medications. ISP Director Leo P. Schmitz says the receptacles will be placed at their District headquarters in Des Plaines, Elgin, Joliet, Collinsville, and LaSalle. People will be able to drop over-the-counter and prescription medications into the receptacles, including controlled substances, pet medications, drug samples, vitamins, liquids and creams. For safety reasons, needles, thermometers, IV Bags, bloody waste and hydrogen peroxide cannot be accepted and should not be deposited into the receptacles. The initiative is another step in the state’s effort to reduce opioid-related deaths in Illinois by 33% in three years.

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