Legislative Update: June 25, 2018

National NBC News Publishes Redistricting Op-Ed Co-Authored by Rep. Olsen
Last year I was honored to be chosen as one of 12 young state legislators from across the country to participate on a bipartisan Democracy Reform Task Force to advance legislation on redistricting, government accountability, and access to voting. After the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Wisconsin case, I co-authored an op-ed with Ohio State Senator Frank LaRose about how gerrymandering of political maps needs to be stopped to restore trust in our democracy. Click here to read the op-ed, which was published by NBC News on June 18.

Rep. Olsen Joins Leader Durkin at Meeting with Metra Officials to Discuss Service Disruptions
Service reliability issues on Metra’s BNSF Line intensified recently with the implementation of new federally-mandated train safety regulations which prompted an entirely new train schedule. On Thursday, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and I met with Metra CEO Jim Derwinski and his staff to express our concerns, and find out what steps are being taken to improve BNSF performance. 

Almost every day I hear from at least one constituent who is frustrated over paying higher fares for a lower quality of commuter rail service. Prior to the implementation of the Positive Train Control (PTC) safety improvements, BNSF Line users were experiencing frequent delays, regardless of the weather. The new train schedule has only added to the frustration.

At the meeting, Leader Durkin and I were assured that delays on BNSF trains had improved significantly and that last Wednesday (the day before our meeting) the trains ran 98.9% on time. We were also told that six adjustments had already been made to address train overcrowding. Mr. Derwinski said Metra is committed to solving the problems commuters are experiencing, and will continue monitoring on-time and capacity issues on the BNSF Line and make additional adjustments as needed.

Leader Durkin and I fully support the new PTC safety improvements and will continue to be in communication with Mr. Derwinski and his staff while issues continue to be resolved. Please let me know if you have additional feedback to share with Metra.

Moody's Cites 'Positive' Moves in New Illinois Budget
According to Moody’s Investors Service, the fiscal 2019 Illinois budget signed June 4 includes a voluntary pension buyout plan and a boost in school funding, which are credit-positive moves for Illinois and its school districts.

The $38.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2019 that begins on July 1 incorporates $423 million in savings that would be generated by current or former public-sector workers choosing to accept a buyout of their pensions or a retirement benefit in exchange for cash raised by the sale of up to $1 billion of state general obligation bonds. “The state’s buyout offer is credit positive because it will generate significant pension liability savings to the extent that employees accept the offer,” Moody’s said, adding that actual savings could fall short if participation fails to meet targets of 22 percent of vested former workers and 25 percent of retiring current workers. Read the rest of the story.

Take My Survey!
I recently posted my 2018 Legislative Survey to my web site, and I hope to receive wide participation by the residents of the 81st District. This year’s survey includes six multiple choice questions and an area for an open-ended response. Please take a few minutes to share your input. You can click here to get started. 

$6.995 Million in IDOT Funds Allocated for Road and Bridge Projects in 81St House District from 2019-2024
I am pleased to report that $6.995 million of an $11.05 billion statewide road and bridge improvement program will be spent on projects in the 81st Legislative House District. The projects were announced recently as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) six-year Proposed Highway Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2019-2024.

District 81 projects included in IDOTs six-year program include:
  • $5,890,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on Ogden Avenue from Ivanhoe Avenue to east of IL 83 (Kingery Highway) in Lisle, Downers Grove, Westmont, Clarendon Hills and Hinsdale 
  • $1,105,000 for resurfacing and ADA improvements on IL 53 from Short Street to 59th Street in Lisle 
Based on current funding levels, the FY 2019-2024 Proposed Highway Improvement Program aims to improve a total of 1,945 miles of road and 525 bridges maintained by the State. The multi-year program also includes funding for upgrades to more than 750 miles of local roads and 922,933 square feet of local bridges.

Rep. Olsen to Host Annual Jobs Fair
Please mark your calendar for Wednesday, July 25 when I will partner with House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and State Senator John F. Curran (R-Downers Grove) for a free jobs fair in Lemont. The fair will be held from 9:00 a.m. until noon at CORE Fitness Center, 16028 W. 127th Street, Lemont. If you are looking to take a job with the State, at 9:00 a.m. you might want to attend the “Effective Search Strategies for State Employment” workshop. At 10:00 and 11:00 workshops will be held focusing on interviewing techniques. All workshops are free of charge. 

Past job fairs have been very successful, so I would encourage anyone looking for employment opportunities to bring many resumes to this event. I received post-event data these last few years that indicates several individuals were offered jobs on-the-spot while many others were scheduled for formal job interviews as a result of their attendance at the job fair.

Olsen Celebrates Grand Opening of Easterseals New Naperville Center
On Thursday I joined State Senators John F. Curran (R-Downers Grove) and Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) for the grand opening of Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley’s new Naperville Center. The Senators and I are shown here with DuPage & Fox Valley Easterseals President and CEO Theresa Forthofer. 

Meningitis Vaccination Push Begins
As the start of college fall term approaches, public health officials are mounting a push to encourage incoming college freshmen to get vaccinated for meningitis B. The contagious neurological illness is a concern on college campuses worldwide. Public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that adolescents and young adults aged 16 through 23 are at particular risk of this disease. Many parents do not know that the meningitis vaccine administered to their children and adolescents can also be administered to young adults.

Rep. Olsen Hosts Successful Property Tax Event in Woodridge
We had a great turnout on June 16 for my annual property tax forum. This year’s event was held at the Woodridge Public Library. 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 interactive event. 

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

Olsen Attends Downers Grove Public Works Open House
Earlier this month it was my pleasure to stop by the Village of Downers Grove’s Public Works Open House. I had a great time visiting with the people who work hard on behalf of the village’s residents. Thanks to the great Public Works team for all their work to keep Downers Grove's streets, water system, and infrastructure maintained and safe. 

Illinois Unemployment Rate Declines Fifth Month in a Row in May
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced earlier this month that the unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 4.3 percent in May and nonfarm payrolls increased by 8,600 jobs over the month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The April job gain was revised down slightly from its initial report to show a smaller gain. (+2,500 jobs versus +4,700 jobs). Job growth stabilized in the March to May period posting average monthly gains of +4,600 jobs over this three-month period, about the same as the 6-month average monthly gain of +4,500 jobs between December 2017 to May 2018.

“Since Governor Rauner took office, Illinois has added 192,700 jobs and the unemployment rate has fallen 1.7 points,” said Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy. “We’re seeing increases in job creation, retention, and investment due to the implementation of a pro-business climate. Our work certainly continues as we look to build upon these results to generate opportunity and success for all Illinoisans.”

The state’s unemployment rate is +0.5 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate reported for May 2018, which dropped to 3.8 percent. The Illinois unemployment rate is down -0.6 percentage points from a year ago when it was 4.9 percent. The Illinois jobless rate last stood at 4.3 percent in September 2006.

Olsen Hosts Series of Mobile Office Hours Events
Earlier this month I hosted a mobile office hours event at the Indian Prairie Library in Darien. I recognize that my Downers Grove office is not convenient for all constituents, so once each month or so during non-session time, I bring my office to a library in all seven communities that encompass the 81st District. I enjoy meeting constituents at these events and appreciate their comments and feedback. In addition to one-on-one conversations with the people I represent, a member of my staff is available to assist with issues involving State agencies. Look for more of these mobile office hours events throughout the rest of 2018. Visit www.repolsen.com to learn about mobile office hours near you. 

Olsen Attends Grand Opening of New Off-Leash Dog Area in Darien
On June 19, I was pleased to attend the grand opening of the new off-leash dog area at Oldfield Oaks Forest Preserve in Darien, located just east of Lemont Road near its intersection with I-55. This new community resource includes much open space for dogs and their owners to enjoy, as well as a dedicated space for smaller dogs. I am shown here with Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Board President Joe Cantore and Commissioners Linda Painter and Mary Lou Wehrli. 

“Wizard of Oz” Voted Top Illinois Book in Illinois Bicentennial Poll
The honor was voted on by participants in the “Illinois 200” bicentennial poll series, who cast ballots for their favorite book written in Illinois. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was penned in Chicago by a South Dakota newspaperman, L. Frank Baum, who was looking towards a midlife career change of course as a writer of children’s fantasy. The blockbuster novel inspired Baum to spend the rest of his life writing “Oz” novels. Other books supported by poll participants included Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” and the poetic “Spoon River Anthology.”

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