Legislative Update: November 19, 2018

Lawmakers Return to Springfield for Fall Veto Session
Legislators returned to Springfield last week to begin the six-day 2018 Fall Veto Session. Through floor action last week, 17 vetoed House Bills received the requisite number of votes to pass, two failed, and House members accepted the Governor’s amendatory language on one bill. In the Senate, lawmakers successfully overrode 20 Senate Bills while two attempts to override the Governor’s veto failed. The bills that received successful three-fifths override votes now move to the other chamber where another three-fifths vote will be required for the bills to become law. Veto session resumes after Thanksgiving on Tuesday, November 27.

Rep. Olsen Receives Unanimous Veto Override Vote on Legislation to Ensure Properly-Credentialed Counselors are Working in Illinois Schools
Through a unanimous veto override vote on Wednesday, a bill I sponsored to provide transparency and clarity regarding counselors that work in Illinois schools is one step closer to becoming law. HB 4514, which received near-unanimous approval in the House and unanimous approval in the Senate earlier this year, seeks to protect the title of “school counselor” by providing that only persons duly licensed and endorsed as a school counselor may use the title in a school setting. “Individuals who do not hold the appropriate credentials and have not had the proper training should not serve in the role of school counselors,” said Olsen. “Parents and students deserve assurances to know that those calling themselves school counselors have had the proper education that meets the requirements of the State Board of Education.” 

The bill received an amendatory veto by Governor Rauner in August, who called for a study to determine the labor market impacts of protecting the title of “school counselor.” With the 107-0 override vote in the House on Wednesday, HB 4514 now moves to the Senate, where a three-fifths override vote would be required for the bill to become law. 

Olsen Hosts Downers Grove Youth as Page for a Day
Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of hosting Matthew Ritzert of Downers Grove as my Page for the Day in Springfield. He had an up close and personal opportunity to see the legislature in action as we began the fall veto session.

Slight Increase in Illinois Unemployment Rate for October
Illinois’ unemployment rate moved up from 4.1% in September 2018 to 4.2% in October. The state’s unemployment continued to be slightly higher than the 3.7% nationwide rate for the same month, indicating slightly slower economic conditions in the Prairie State than the rest of the United States. Illinois’ total payroll numbers continued to increase. The count of seasonally-adjusted Illinois nonfarm payroll jobs increased to 6,134,000 in October 2018, up 10,300 jobs from the previous month and up 59,300 jobs from one year earlier. Job growth was especially strong in trade, transportation, utilities, information, and manufacturing. The October 2018 report, by showing both more jobs and higher unemployment, demonstrate that marginal workers are once again returning to the Illinois labor force. A person who is actively seeking work is counted as “unemployed,” even if he or she is in the labor force for the first time or is returning to the labor force after having voluntarily left on a previous date.

Rep. Swanson Leads Veto Override of “Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention & Protection Law”
My House Republican colleague Representative Dan Swanson led an effort last week to override Governor Rauner’s Amendatory Veto of HB 4515 – the “Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention & Protection Law.” The override vote was unanimous and I was pleased to support his important bill.

Swanson’s legislation was inspired by Lauryn Russell, a 12-year-old student from Mercer County, who has Lyme Disease and has had to seek treatment out of state due to potential disciplinary action that could be taken against her Illinois physician for treating Lauryn’s post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) or Chronic Lyme Disease. Advocates for Lyme Disease sufferers say the current recommended treatment of the disease, 10 to 21 days of antibiotics, is insufficient for people with advanced or persistent levels of the disease.

Olsen Talks with Students About Job as a Young Lawmaker
Wednesday, November 14, I was able to spend some time with two high school home-schooled students who were in Springfield on a job shadowing assignment. I met Nicholas Doty and Tanner Speer on the House floor and showed them the inner workings of our voting system. These young men had some great questions and I hope they enjoyed their day learning about the behind-the-scenes workings of the General Assembly! 

In Quality-Of-Life ranking, Illinois Rated Above Average at #22 of 50 U.S. States
The rating was based on a wide variety of metrics that included household income, state unemployment and percentage of state residents with four-year college degrees. The rating was compiled by Delaware-based website 24/7 Wall St. Illinois was highly rated for its household income. The state’s current population decline and unemployment rate – both of them reflections of Illinois’ current slow speed at private-sector job creation – dragged what would otherwise have been a healthy Illinois score back towards the median. The 24/7 ranking criteria tended to favor Northeastern states. The website ranked Massachusetts highest, and gave six of its top 10 state rankings to neighboring states on the East Coast.

Rep. Hammond Advances Critical Consumer Protections to Long-Term Care Application Process
Assistant House Republican Leader Norine Hammond has once again advanced legislation adding important consumer protections to Illinois’ public nursing home care program (long-term care Medicaid program).

After unanimous passage by the Illinois House in the 2018 spring session, HB 4771 came back to the House this November on the veto calendar. Under Rep. Hammond’s leadership, the House voted unanimously to override the amendatory veto and enact provisional Medicaid eligibility status into law. The measure now goes to the state Senate for final action.

Under provisions of Hammond’s legislation, Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) will make critical consumer protection reforms including instituting a system of provisional eligibility, providing a step by step checklist of documents required, departments must provide written receipt of documents turned in, must develop an electronic application process, and ensures applications do not ‘start over’ just because of a change of the applicant’s legal representative. I was proud to support this bill.

Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Debated
A bill is being considered by the General Assembly to strengthen regulations on car sharing, including enactment of legal language specifically adapted towards this fast-growing industry. Illinois already regulates and taxes conventional rental cars, phone-app taxicab services such as Lyft and Uber, and the leasing of cars from car dealers to individual households.

In the case of what is called “car sharing,” the motor vehicle is not really “shared.” It is rented by the owner to a user, with the owner of an intellectual-property phone app serving as the car finder and go-between. The app operator locates the car, tells the prospective driver where to find it, bills the driver, and takes a profit percentage. Many consumer advocates believe that car-sharing services need to be regulated to ensure the safety and drivability of the cars being rented out. At the same time, critics point out that enactment of this bill will create a new set of taxes and regulations. The car sharing regulation bill, SB 2641, may be discussed by the Illinois House in the second week of veto session starting on Tuesday, November 27.

Rauner, Pritzker to make Joint Appearance at Bicentennial Birthday Party
Gov. Bruce Rauner and Governor-elect JB Pritzker will make a joint appearance at the state's 200th Birthday Party on Dec. 3, the day in 1818 when Illinois became the nation's 21st state. Both men rallied around a unity theme in the aftermath of the recent election. "There is no better place to start uniting than at an event that celebrates the greatness of Illinois," Rauner said.

The Bicentennial Commission also announced a change in venue for the official Bicentennial Birthday. The celebration is moving from the United Center to the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. The Birthday Party program will remain largely the same. People attending the affair will be treated to a star-studded presentation of things BORN, BUILT, and GROWN in Illinois.

The highlights include an original Gettysburg Address Rap - "All People are Created Equal" - by Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton, Chicago), performances by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Buddy Guy; a special acoustic performance by Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon; and a Championship Parade featuring star athletes marching with Chicago team championship trophies.

People who have purchased tickets for the United Center may use them for the party at Navy Pier or contact Ticketmaster for a refund prior to Dec. 2. Future ticket purchase opportunities will be announced as they become available. For more information about the Illinois Bicentennial celebration visit www.illinois200.com.

Medicare & Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment
The Illinois Department on Aging's (IDoA) Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) is reminding seniors of the free counseling assistance available to Medicare-eligible individuals and their caregivers during Medicare Open Enrollment occurring October 15th through December 7th. During open enrollment, eligible adults can adjust Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug coverage, move from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan - or vice versa - switch between Medicare Advantage plans, join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, or switch or drop existing drug plans without penalty; all of which can be overwhelming and confusing.

With over 350 SHIP offices across Illinois, the agency stands ready to refer clients to their closest site, which can schedule an appointment to assist with open enrollment. SHIP counselors work through the Medicare.gov system to help seniors and people with disabilities make the best choices for their individual situation. Contact SHIP, by calling 1-800-252-8966, weekdays 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM. For more information about SHIP, including a list of SHIP locations, visit the website at: http://www.illinois.gov/aging/ship/Pages/default.aspx. To compare 2019 drug and health plans on your own and to find out more about Medicare options, including preventive services now covered, visit the federal website at: www.medicare.gov. Medicare customer service representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at: 1-800-633-4227.
Open Enrollment is also underway for all people needing insurance through the Affordable Care Act. During this time period, Illinoisans can enroll in or change plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace for the next year. For more information, call (866) 311-1119 or visit www.GetCoveredIllinois.gov

Happy Thanksgiving!
Lastly, as we enjoy this Thanksgiving week, let us all take a moment to count our many blessings and let those we appreciate know how thankful we are to have them in our lives. I would personally like to express my gratitude to everyone in the 81st District for the privilege of serving as your State Representative for these last few years. It has been a distinct honor. 

For those in your life who show kindness to you and your family without expecting anything in return, this week is the perfect time to extend a gesture of friendship and thanks for the good deeds and overall happiness they bring to your life. On behalf of my staff and me, please accept my very best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

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