Legislative Update: July 9, 2018

Olsen Partners with Durkin to Reform Broken Property Tax System
I recently joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) in filing new legislation that will sunset Illinois’ property tax code to force the General Assembly to reform the broken system. I am a Chief-Co-Sponsor of this bill. HB 5924 creates a deadline of July 1, 2019 for the General Assembly to create a new property tax code that is fair and equitable throughout the entire state of Illinois. If the General Assembly fails to address this by the deadline, the current Illinois property tax code would be immediately removed from state law. It is critical that the legislature turns its attention to this very important issue as soon as possible. 

In launching the bill, Durkin said, “It is plain and simple: the property tax system in Illinois is a failure, and it is time to start over. By setting a firm deadline for the General Assembly, it will force the legislature to come together in a bipartisan manner to find a compromise solution that will remedy this crisis and help bring Illinois back.”

A recent report from Attom Data Solutions shows Illinois with the second highest property taxes in the nation. Additionally, a Smart Asset report shows the statewide average effective tax rate in Illinois is 2.32 percent, almost double than the national average.

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. 

Olsen Speaks at GED Commencement at College of DuPage 
A few weeks ago it was my pleasure to speak at the High School Equivalency (GED) Commencement at College of DuPage. In my remarks, I spoke about the opportunities each person has to choose our own path - and take a new or different path to transform our lives. This day was truly inspirational, as we saw people of all walks of life who have overcome adversity to reach this important milestone in their own lives. Congratulations to these new graduates, and best wishes for a successful future! 

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 our annual free jobs fair in Lemont. The fair will be held from 9:00 a.m. until noon at CORE Fitness Center, 16050 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 several resumes to this event. Follow-up data from the last few job fairs indicate 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.

Other upcoming events include:
  • Wednesday, July 18: Mobile Office Hours, 11:00 AM until 12:30 PM, Lisle Library, 777 Front Street, Lisle 
  • Saturday, August 4: Coffee & Conversation, 8:00 AM until 9:30 AM, Cedarhurst Senior Living, 3333 75th Street, Woodridge (I will be joined by State Senator John F. Curran (R-Downers Grove), Woodridge Mayor Gina Cunningham-Picek and members of the village board) 
  • Thursday, September 20: 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 Resource Fair: Details coming soon 
Rep. Olsen Joins ABATE at Local Meeting
Recently I was pleased to speak at a meeting of the Southern DuPage Chapter of ABATE with several of my colleagues. The event was held at Bono’s Neighborhood Pub in Lisle, and I was joined there by State Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) and State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville). We discussed several issues of concern to motorcyclists, as well as giving an update on the state budget and the recently-concluded legislative session. I am shown in this picture with club members and other local officials. Thanks for the invitation and hospitality! 

Unemployment Rate Continues Falling in All Metro Areas
Unemployment rates decreased over-the-year in May in all of Illinois’ metropolitan areas, according to preliminary data released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Data also show nonfarm jobs increased in eleven of the metropolitan areas.

Illinois businesses added jobs in eleven metro areas, with the largest increases in: Kankakee (+3.9 percent, +1,800), the Quad Cities (+1.5 percent, +2,700), and Champaign-Urbana (+1.2 percent, +1,300). Total nonfarm jobs in the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights Metro Division increased (+0.9 percent or +32,500). Illinois businesses lost jobs in three metro areas: Danville (-1.4 percent, -400), Carbondale-Marion (-1.2 percent, -700), and Springfield (-0.7 percent, -800).

The industry sectors recording job growth in the majority of metro areas included Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities (9 of 14), Professional and Business Services, (9 of 14), and Manufacturing (8 of 14).

Not seasonally adjusted data compares May 2018 with May 2017. The not seasonally adjusted Illinois rate was 3.5 percent in May 2018 and stood at 12.2 percent at its peak in this economic cycle in January 2010. Nationally, the not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in May 2018 and 10.6 percent in January 2010 at its peak. The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and looking for work, and is not tied to collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

Rep. Olsen Joins Governor at Eyes to the Skies Festival in Lisle
Last week I had a great time at the 38th annual Eyes to the Skies Festival in Lisle. This annual festival benefits charities through the following affiliates: Lisle Park District, Lisle Area Chamber of Commerce, Lisle Kiwanis, Lisle Rotary, Partners for Parks, Lisle Education Foundation, Lisle Lions, and Lisle Convention & Visitors Bureau. I am shown in this photo with Lisle Mayor Chris Pecak, Governor Bruce Rauner and State Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville). I hope you also have had a chance to enjoy the many area festivals this summer. 

Rep. Patti Bellock Chosen as New Director of DHFS
I was thrilled last week to learn that my friend and mentor Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) has been chosen as the new director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Bellock, who has served the nearby 47th Leglislative House District in the General Assembly since 1999, announced earlier this year that she would not be seeking reelection to her seat. Rep. Bellock is widely recognized by Republicans and Democrats alike as one of Illinois’ leading advocates for Medicaid, health care and social services, which are the precise areas she will oversee in her new role.

“Illinois is so fortunate to have an advocate for health and human services as dedicated and talented as Patti Bellock,” said Governor Bruce Rauner in announcing the appointment last week. “She has been instrumental in virtually every health advancement our state has made in the last two decades and I am looking forward to her leadership of the state’s ongoing effort to reform our delivery systems and improve our outcomes.”

Bellock is retiring from the House of Representatives where she became the first woman to serve as Deputy Minority Leader in 2013. She replaces interim DHFS Director Teresa Hursey who stepped in last month when Felicia Norwood left for the private sector.

Bellock helped to shepherd the recent approval of Better Care Illinois, the state’s landmark 1115 Medicaid waiver approved earlier this year for 10 pilot programs in mental health and substance abuse. She is known for her bipartisan, collaborative style as a member of two other Medicaid-related groups moving legislation forward to approve the Hospital Assessment and the Omnibus Medicaid bill. She has effectively co-led efforts in the General Assembly in recent years to move Illinois toward managed care. Her extensive work on Medicaid reform in Illinois has been recognized by the Wall Street Journal.

Bellock’s distinguished 20-year legislative career had a decided emphasis on health and human services. She was the Minority spokesperson on both the House Human Services Committee and the Human Services – Appropriations Committee. She has also served on committees with three different national organizations working on health care legislation and public policy issues throughout the United States. Her signature achievement in the General Assembly was the landmark Save Medicaid Access and Resources Together (SMART) Act reforms of 2012. She served as Chairperson of the Medicaid Reform, Family & Children Committee from 2009-2011 under Speaker Madigan; the group which started the work on improving Illinois’ Medicaid program that culminated with passage of comprehensive reforms in 2012.

Her appointment is effective July 11, 2018.

Rep. Olsen Attends Groundbreaking Ceremony
I recently participated in the official groundbreaking of Bridge Point Downers Grove, a three-building, 678,858-square-foot industrial/office development. Situated on a previously undeveloped 57-acre site at the intersection of Interstates 88 and 355, Bridge Point Downers Grove is expected to provide a strategically located, high-visibility facility for office, e-commerce and distribution tenants. It is one of the largest developments in DuPage County in many years. More than 30 attendees were on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking, and I am shown in this photo with members of the development team and several Downers Grove officials, including Community Development Director Stan Popvich, Economic Development Corporation Chairman John Luka, Village Manager Dave Fieldman, Mayor Martin Tully and Economic Development Corporation President & CEO Michael Cassa. 

Nation’s Highest Court Issues Decision in Janus vs. AFSCME Case
On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 41-year-old precedent and ruled in favor of an Illinois state employee who said he should not be forced to pay fair share fees to the union that represents his job. In a 5-4 decision, the court sided with Mark Janus, who contended his free speech rights were violated by being forced to pay fair share dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Janus works as a child support specialist for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The job is a union position represented by AFSCME.

The opinion will mean immediate changes for Illinois state workers. Governor Bruce Rauner said the state will stop withholding fair share fees from non-union member paychecks. He also said state workers will be notified of the ruling and “be given an opportunity to modify their union status.” He said the average unionized state employee pays more than $900 a year in fees.

Olsen Attends Ribbon Cutting for New Local Business
In my role as State Representative, I try to attend as many grand openings and ribbon cuttings for new local businesses in the 81st District as my schedule allows. Last week I was proud to welcome Adorn512 Jewelry to their new store in downtown Downers Grove. These ribbon cutting ceremonies, sponsored by Chamber630, are a great way to welcome new job creators to our area. Best wishes to Adorn512 Jewelry for many years of success in our wonderful community! 

Pritchard Named to NIU Board of Trustees
Governor Bruce Rauner has named retiring Illinois State Representative Robert Pritchard (R-Hinckley) to the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Board of Trustees. Pritchard is a long-time education advocate and a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose work in the General Assembly was focused on elementary, secondary and higher education. 

Pritchard’s appointment took effect on July 1, 2018, the same day he retired from the Illinois House of Representatives where he served the 70th Legislative District for more than 15 years. A recognized leader in education policy, Pritchard was a key contributor to the passage of the state’s new K-12 school funding formula, which increased state levels of school funding and made distributions to school districts more equitable.

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