Legislative Update: September 17, 2018

Olsen Senior Fair Scheduled for September 20
This week on Thursday, September 20, I am partnering with the Downers Grove Park District’s Active Adult Center for a free Senior Fair. The event will be held from 10:00 AM until 1:00 PM at the Park District’s Lincoln Center Gymnasium, 935 Maple Avenue in Downers Grove. Seniors and those who help care for them can visit more than 20 booths staffed by agencies that assist seniors. They can also register for a chance to win a door prize. In addition, helpful guides, literature and other resources from state, county and local government agencies will be distributed. No pre-registration is necessary. For additional information, please contact my office at (630) 737-0504. 

Olsen Joins DuPage Area Lawmakers to Help Loaves & Fishes with Collection of Personal Care Items
This month I am partnering with several of my DuPage County Republican colleagues to assist Loaves & Fishes with the collection of personal care items. Loaves & Fishes is a not-for-profit food pantry that feeds up to 800 DuPage County families per week. At Loaves & Fishes, families in need can visit the pantry and shop for free in a grocery store-like setting. Unfortunately, the pantry is experiencing a shortage of personal care items to supplement the food staples families need. Items in short supply right now include: 
  • diapers and wipes 
  • laundry detergent 
  • toilet paper 
  • shampoo 
  • toothpaste 
  • household cleaning products 
My legislative office at 633 Rogers Street, Suite 108 in Downers Grove is one of nine legislative offices in DuPage County that are serving as drop-off locations for Loaves & Fishes donations. While my general office hours are 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday through Friday, my staff and I are often out of the office tending to legislative business and attending local events, so please call prior to stopping by. Click here to view a full list of drop-off locations for this collection event. 

Olsen Sits for Interview to Discuss First Term in General Assembly
I recently sat down for a radio interview, where I discussed how my high school and college involvements led me toward public service life, my first term in the Illinois House of Representatives, and how bipartisanship has been the key to my success in getting bills passed. We also discussed my legislative and personal goals for the future. Click here to listen to the full interview. 

September is Preparedness Month in Illinois
In the case of a public emergency in this area, are you prepared? Would you know how to reach your family and how to remain safe? During closing ceremonies of the 2018 Illinois Emergency Management Agency Training Summit in Springfield, Governor Rauner proclaimed September as Preparedness Month in Illinois. Illinois designation aligns with National Preparedness Month. 

The theme for this year’s National Preparedness Month campaign is "Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How."  The state is partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the month-long campaign that encourages Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities. Having a plan that includes where to go and how to communicate during disasters, as well as an emergency supply kit, could save the lives of your family, friends, neighbors and employees.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) offers disaster preparedness information on the Ready Illinois website (www.Ready.Illinois.gov), a one-stop resource for detailed information about what to do before, during and after disasters. During large-scale disasters, IEMA uses the Ready Illinois website, Facebook and Twitter pages to provide critical information about the incident, including shelter locations, road closures, safety information, photos and more. For more information about emergency and disaster preparedness, visit ready.illinois.gov.

9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Recognizes 17th Anniversary of Terrorist Attack
On September 11, I joined first responders and public officials in Lisle for a 9/11 commemoration ceremony at the Fire District. As we paid tribute to those who tragically lost their lives and the thousands of people who emerged as heroes in the days and weeks that followed the attacks, I was reminded of how that horrible day brought the country together; how people put their differences aside and embraced each other. 

Healthy Revenue Numbers Posted in August
The new numbers reflect taxes paid into our State through key State revenue pipelines in August 2018. The figures were posted recently by the Committee on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the nonpartisan budget watchdog arm of the Illinois General Assembly. Measured on a year-over-year basis, August 2018 personal income tax revenues were up $127 million, sales tax revenues were up $54 million, and corporate income tax revenues rose $35 million.

The Illinois private sector makes goods and services that are sold all over the world. After studying current Illinois exports, CGFA summarized the picture in this month’s revenue report. Illinois residents may be surprised to learn that facilities within our State sell almost $6 billion worth of goods and services every month to buyers outside our American borders. The U.S. dollar is an expensive currency for many of our international customers, and so many of these Illinois exports are not commodities: they are specialty goods and services produced by highly trained Illinois workers who are working as team members for an enterprise that enjoys a global high or dominant market share.

Illinois Launches College and Career Planning Tool
For the first time, Illinois high school students will have access to data that shows how much they might earn if they graduate from colleges and universities located in the state. 

ILCollege2Career.com, unveiled at Governor Bruce Rauner’s quarterly Children’s Cabinet meeting this month, links employment and higher education data so users can compare the relative earnings value of college degrees. The data is broken down by schools and area of study, so that students can compare the earnings potential of business degrees, for example, from different public and private institutions in the state.

The idea is to help students and parents make college decisions based on an evaluation of real-time successes of a school’s graduates, in addition to other factors such as cost, average debt levels, and likelihood to graduate on-time. The tool will also show the benefits of investing in higher education, as it demonstrates how connected our thriving higher education system is to the workforce development of our state.

ILCollege2Career.com is the product of collaboration between the Governor’s Office, Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

The launch of the web site follows a number of recent education achievements in the state including:
  • $25 million allocated for higher education in Fiscal Year 2019 and merit-based scholarship program AIM HIGH to encourage Illinois’ best and brightest high school grads to stay in Illinois for college 
  • A law that requires the ISAC to develop a three-year pilot program to better educate students on loan amounts, repayment and interest; 
  • A new law that creates a task force to study how student college or career interest data can be collected and shared between high schools and colleges so higher education institutions will be able to enhance their programs and services to support the specific needs of their incoming student body; 
  • Revisions to the Monetary Award Program (MAP) to prioritize access for existing grant recipients, and; 
  • Strengthened degree-advising services that make it easier for students to transfer credits between Illinois schools. 
Treasurer Launches Money Match Program
In Illinois, the State Treasurer is tasked with safeguarding unclaimed property, such as unpaid life insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts and unused rebate cards. Illinois holds more than $2 billion in unclaimed property. The State Treasurer is legally required to get the property to the rightful owners no matter how long it takes for them to come forward.

The Treasurer’s Office wants to make sure you know about a new program, Money Match, that was recently launched to return unclaimed property to Illinois residents more quickly and efficiently. This program was made possible by legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly last year. The Treasurer’s Office is now authorized to work with the Illinois Department of Revenue to match the names of unclaimed property owners with recent tax return records.

Using this proactive matching process, the Treasurer’s Office will automatically return lost money to qualifying Illinois taxpayers without the need to file a claim or gather paperwork. The property must be $2,000 or less in cash with only one owner. If a recent mailing address is identified and confirmed, the person will receive a letter announcing the amount and source of the money and notifying the recipient to look for a check in the mail.

Money Match’s goal is to return more money, more quickly to Illinois taxpayers. Residents will start to receive notification letters as soon as this month. The program expects to return $12 million statewide in the coming weeks. This new matching program comes on the heels of a record-breaking year for ICash of 116,000 successful claims returning more than $180 million in unclaimed property to individuals, businesses and non-profits in Illinois.

Individuals can still search the state treasurer’s database for their name or the name of their business or non-profit at www.illinoistreasurer.gov/ICASH.

Olsen Celebrates DarienFest
Every September I look forward to attending DarienFest, and this year was no exception. While the weather did not cooperate fully, we were able to enjoy some sunshine. This event takes place annually at Darien Community Park. I am shown in this photo with a variety of people from the Darien community.

Opioid Prescriptions Declining in Illinois
The legal dispensing of opioid pain management medications, including OxyContin, declined in 2017. The data was seen as evidence that steps are being taken to reduce opioid abuse in Illinois. In many cases of opioid abuse and addiction, a patient is introduced to opioids through the legitimate use of prescription painkillers. Physicians who provide treatment to persons with one-time pain management needs, such as post-operative patients, are being taught to prescribe lower doses of opioids in smaller quantities. Programs approved by the Illinois General Assembly are being used to improve anti-opioid continuing education efforts for all medical caregivers, including physicians and pharmacists.

This recently-released Illinois opioid data came from the statewide Prescription Monitoring Program, a database monitor operated by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). The database monitor has been recommended to medical care providers since the 1970s, but in 2017 the General Assembly changed the law to mandate prescribing physicians to enroll in the Program. Work done by the Illinois General Assembly, with the consultative input of the Illinois State Medical Society, now ensures that Illinois professional regulators and law enforcement have high-quality, universal data to use to fight against opioid drug abuse and addiction.

Local Moose Lodge Hosts International Supreme Governor
Moose International Supreme Governor Harry Johnston visited Downers Grove Moose Lodge No. 1535 recently to celebrate the Downers Grove chapter being named top lodge in Illinois. I was glad to join in the festivities with Mayor Martin Tully and Commissioners Marge Earl & Nicole Walus. 

Renewed Interest in Issue of Texting while Driving
A recent survey of Illinois high school students shows that an alarming 42% of Illinois teens admit to texting while driving. This number is even higher than the 38% nationwide teen average who admits to the same offense. While texting-while-driving is banned in Illinois, many believe that the law is not fully enforced. The Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation, signed by Governor Bruce Rauner in August 2018, to increase penalties for the violation of texting while driving. Under the new law, first-time convictions for texting-while-driving will be classified as moving violations and, like other moving violations, will be placed on the offender’s permanent driving record. Three or more repeat offenses of texting while driving could lead to the suspension of a driver’s license.

Rep. Olsen Supports Grove Foundation Annual Golf Outing
The Grove Foundation recently hosted their annual golf outing at the Downers Grove Golf Club. I was glad to make time to stop by and visit with the golfers and others supporting the event. This organization is a not-for-profit foundation that enriches the lives of community members by identifying, supporting and promoting recreational, educational and community experiences through innovative and collaborative efforts. I am shown in this picture with Cheryl Prescott, Mary French and Mary Ellen Young.

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