Legislative Update: May 14, 2018

Lawmakers Begin Final Weeks of Spring Session
Last week members of the House began focusing on Senate Bills that were approved during the first half of this year’s legislative session. I am personally serving as the Chief House Sponsor of 11 Senate Bills that represent a variety of improvement initiatives. My 2018 Senate Bills include: 
  • SB 2483: Allows non-home rule municipalities in DuPage County to use up to 25% of the hotel operators’ occupation tax and municipal hotel use taxes collected for economic development or capital infrastructure, with the remainder used to promote tourism within that municipality 
  • SB 2543: Simplifies the process for dissolution of a mosquito abatement district 
  • SB 2587: Adds dentists to the list of "health care professionals" that can perform over-the-phone “tele-health” services in Illinois 
  • SB 2658: Lengthens to three years (currently two years) the period of time during which a provisional educator endorsement for a service member or spouse is valid 
  • SB 2721: Streamlines the process of regulatory oversight and aligns the licensing process of financial technical (fintech) companies by entering Illinois into a newly-created interstate compact with Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Washington 
  • SB 2826: Amends the Illinois Human Rights Act by providing that "order of protection status" includes status as a person protected under the Protective Orders Article of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, the Stalking No Contact Order Act and the Civil No Contact Order Act 
  • SB 2879: Increases transparency within the Department of Human Services by allowing the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to share redacted substantiated investigative reports with victims and guardians; also allows the OIG to share un-redacted investigative reports and raw data with local law enforcement, state’s attorneys and coroners upon written request 
  • SB 2902: Identical to my HB 5031, provides clean-up language for the Department of Human Services Act, by repealing a provision concerning cross-agency master service agreements between State agencies and human service providers because they conflicted with other statutory requirements 
  • SB 3084: Identical to my HB 4805, reduces costs to specific Illinois businesses and protects consumers who use money transmitting services like Western Union and PayPal by bringing the Surety Bond requirement for money transmitters more in line with the actual costs associated with risk 
  • SB 3134: Creates a 32-member commission to study flood control practices and conduct a survey of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties 
  • SB 3236: Requires school report cards to contain the most current data collected relative to a school district’s administrative costs 
Two of these bills, SB 2543 and SB 2587, have already been approved by a House committee and should be brought forward for a final vote this week. I am hopeful that several more of my Senate Bills will also clear a substantive House committee this week and will be brought to the floor for full consideration.

Illinois Remembers Sacrifices Made by Illinois firefighters and First Responders

International Firefighters’ Day, which is observed each year on May 4, is a day to remember firefighters throughout the world. The Illinois Firefighters’ Memorial in Springfield is our State’s place of firefighter remembrance. The annual observance at the Illinois Firefighter’s Memorial is always held on a Tuesday close to International Firefighters’ Day. It was an honor to be joined in Springfield on May 8 by a large group of firefighters from Downers Grove. The group was in town as six members of the department received awards for excellence on the job. We are incredibly fortunate in the 81st District to have such dedicated public servants who protect our safety. These brave men and women are deserving of our highest respect. 

Sister Jean and Loyola Ramblers Visit Springfield
Every day before session begins we hear a prayer and say the Pledge of Allegiance. On May 9 we were honored to have Sister Jean of March Madness fame deliver the prayer. She was at the State Capitol with Loyola Rambler’s Men’s Basketball Coach Porter Moser and several players as the Illinois House recognized Loyola University's historic NCAA Final Four appearance. These men, and one tremendous lady, inspired all of Illinois with their teamwork and spirit. 

Follow-Up to April 5 Education Town Hall: Your Questions Answered
On April 5, I partnered with State Senator John F. Curran (R-Downers Grove) and representatives from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for an Education Town Hall Meeting. The meeting included an explanation of the assessments used in Illinois public schools. A productive exchange of ideas followed through a question and answer period. Due to time constraints on the event, the town hall ended before responses could be provided for all questions. At the meeting, ISBE committed to responding to questions that were unable to be answered. Last week Senator Curran and I received those responses from ISBE. Click here to view the full list of additional questions and written responses from ISBE.

Olsen Appears on Comcast Newsmakers
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Ellee Pai Hong from Comcast Newsmakers to discuss common-sense firearms reforms that improve public safety and efforts by some in the General Assembly to move to a graduated income tax system (I opposed a graduated income tax for Illinoisans). Click here to watch the full interview. 

Mark Your Calendar for Summer and Fall Events
My staff and I have a full calendar of free outreach events for the summer and fall. Please make note of the following: 
  • June 2: Children’s Safety Fair: 9:00 AM until 12:00 Noon, Lakeview Junior High School, 701 Plainfield Road, Downers Grove 
  • June 16: Understanding your Property Tax Bill: 10:00 AM until 11:30 AM, Woodridge Public Library, 3 Plaza Drive, Woodridge 
  • July 25: Jobs Fair: 9:00 AM until 12:00 Noon, CORE Fitness Center, 16028 127th Street, Lemont 
  • September 22: Joint Senior Fair with Downers Grove Park District: 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM, Lincoln Center Gymnasium, 935 Maple Ave, Downers Grove 
  • November (Date TBA): Veterans ResourceFair: Details coming soon 
Please visit my website at www.repolsen.com often for additional information about these and other upcoming events.

Timeframe to Put Fair Maps Proposal Before Illinois Voters in November Expires with No Legislative Action Taken

In spite of overwhelming bipartisan support for a fair maps process in Illinois, Illinoisans have once again been denied the opportunity to vote on whether or not the map-making process should be removed from the hands of politicians. The deadline for putting such a measure on the November 6 ballot was Sunday, May 6. Article XIV of the Illinois Constitution requires a minimum six-month window between when a constitutional amendment ballot referendum is approved by three-fifths of both chambers of the General Assembly and the next General Election. Consequently, there will be no “Fair Maps” referendum on the November 6 ballot this year. 

This year I co-sponsored two pieces of fair maps legislation, and I am extremely disappointed that yet another year will pass when voters are denied an opportunity to vote on fair maps for Illinois. When constituents ask me what they can do to help turn the state around, I suggest they educate themselves on how legislative maps are drawn in this state and encourage them to get behind an initiative that removes opportunities for gerrymandering and ensures a fair and transparent map process.

In addition to co-sponsoring HJRCA 46 and HR 995, I have also posted an online petition for those who oppose gerrymandered legislative maps and support a fair maps process. I would encourage all Illinoisans who support fair maps to sign it.

Olsen Featured in CBS News Investigative Report on Metra Overtime Spending
As you may know, this year I contacted Metra regarding 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. You can read my February letter to Metra Chairman Norman Carlson here. He responded in a timely fashion with this letter

CBS investigative reporter Brad Edwards recently looked into Metra’s decision to pay its employees $119 million in overtime pay over the last five years. I was interviewed as part of the feature and you can watch the segment here.

Olsen Hosts Page for a Day in Springfield
Last week it was my pleasure to host Rylee Monroe, a 5th grader at St. Scholastica School. She lives in Woodridge and wanted to learn about the political process in Springfield. I enjoy spending time with families from the 81st District when they visit the State Capitol. The Page for a Day program allows children to view the House of Representatives in action from the House Floor. If you are interested in scheduling a visit, please contact my Springfield secretary at (217) 782-6578. 

Pension Debt Continues to Threaten Illinois’ Credit Rating
The burden of unpaid Illinois pensions continues to mount on state and local taxpayers. Illinois’ state-managed pensions should have over $130 billion more funds under investment than they currently have. This shortfall is called the “unfunded pension liability.” These monies are required to pay mandated benefits to local teachers and state employees. Unfunded pensions for local workers, including local police officers and firefighters, add additional billions to this debt.

House Republicans continue to warn about the situation and demand true, long-term pension reforms. These warnings have been joined by Senate Republicans and by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Every Illinois man, woman, and child owes $11,000 in unfunded pension obligations. These burdens will have a seriously detrimental effect on Illinois’ prospects for future economic growth unless reforms are enacted.

Edgar Fellows Reunite in Springfield
On May 9 I spent a nice evening with Governor Jim Edgar and a bipartisan group of past Edgar Fellows in Springfield. In 2017, I joined 39 other young, emerging leaders from across Illinois for a multi-day executive leadership training program hosted by former Governor Jim Edgar and the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA). In addition to Edgar, an impressive list of practitioners, researchers and scholars from the public arena served as instructors at the training academy. The program focused on developing leadership and governing capacity in Illinois while emphasizing the need to address major policy issues without permitting partisan, ethnic and regional rivalries to trump statesmanship. I’m shown here with State Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), State Rep. Carol Sente (D-Buffalo Grove), State Rep. Nick Sauer (R-Lake Barrington), State Rep. Chris Welch D-Westchester), State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Oak Lawn) and State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Litchfield). 

Will County Coroner Tracks Rising Opioid Death Toll in one of Illinois’ most Populated Counties
Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil reported that 85 people died in 2017 within county boundaries from overdoses of heroin or fentanyl. The reported numbers have increased from 78 deaths in 2016 and 52 persons in 2015. These death counts reflect the coroner’s inquiries undertaken by O’Neil’s office, and may not be complete; in some cases, medical care providers do not signal to a coroner that an inquiry is appropriate. O’Neil’s report was published on Tuesday, May 8.

The Illinois General Assembly has taken a series of steps to fight back against the challenge of opiate overdoses and opiate addiction. Additions to the State’s prescription pharmacy laws have sharply increased barriers to the prescription and purchase of opiate painkillers. Aid programs are supervised by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS), the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). State anti-opiate initiatives include measures to help pharmacists, police officers, firefighter medical responders, and other first responders maintain rapid access to opiate-overdose drugs such as Naloxone.

FOID Renewals Could be Delayed
In 2008, the law as it pertains to Firearms Owners Identification (FOID) Cards was amended to make FOID cards valid for ten years. As a result of that change, more than 50,000 FOID cards will be up for renewal this year between June 1 and August 1. The volume of renewal requests could lead to delays, and the State Police is encouraging those with renewals coming up to turn in their paperwork a full two months early. If you own a FOID card, please take a moment and check the expiration date on your FOID card, and send in your renewal two months ahead of time, allowing the State Police to have adequate time to process the renewal so that it does not expire. As you know, a valid FOID card is required if you want to buy or possess a firearm or ammunition in Illinois. Click here to go to the FOID Card section of the Illinois State Police web site.

“Better Care Illinois” Behavioral Health Initiative Announced
Illinois has received federal approval to launch a sweeping $2 billion behavioral health initiative designed to deliver better outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders. The Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative is the culmination of a 30-month long Rauner administration effort to involve state health agencies, legislators and behavioral health organizations in a coordinated plan to help people with disorders that require treatment of the whole person. The waiver is not a grant but rather an opportunity to use $2 billion Medicaid dollars differently to increase the efficiency and quality of care for Medicaid populations. The state got the go-ahead to launch the initiative from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which approved the state's application for an 1115 Waiver. The waiver means that beginning July 1, 2018, Illinois can begin investing $2 billion of federal funds in 10 pilots to demonstrate better care alternatives and outcomes.

Better Care Illinois is a win for state taxpayers who over time will see better health outcomes without spending more state dollars. The demonstrations will result in more early help for beneficiaries, so savings can eventually be invested in more cost-effective services. More than 750,000 beneficiaries, 25 percent of Illinois' Medicaid population, have behavioral health conditions, and they account for 52 percent of Medicaid spending. The application process was led by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), the state's Medicaid agency. Thirteen state agencies participated in the development of the approved application. The 10 CMS-approved pilot projects involve a variety of treatment, intervention, case management and home health programs. Summaries of the 10 pilots in the Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative can be accessed here.

Governor’s Hometown Awards Applications Available
Applications are being accepted for the Governor’s Hometown Awards, the annual recognition program in honor of community leadership programs that maintain the quality of life in the places where the program participants live and work. Past winners include programs that engage in food drives, tutoring, senior welfare awareness, the war against opioids, and exercise and trail maintenance. The Hometown Awards will be celebrated this year in conjunction with the Illinois Bicentennial. This year’s cycle will celebrate community projects that took place in calendar year 2017. Applications are due no later than August 1, 2018.        

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