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SPRINGFIELDState Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) was sworn into office for a new term on Wednesday, joining all 118 members of the House of Representatives for the historic inauguration of the 100th General Assembly. Sosnowski has represented the 69th District since 2011, working to provide common sense reforms to Illinois.            

“We have a clear choice moving forward as we look to resolve the state budget impasse: maintain the status quo, raise taxes without reforms and force greater fiscal crisis; or go in a new direction and work together on changes that create jobs, strengthen schools and enact true property tax relief,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “I have been very consistent in my position that we need to go in that new direction and achieve results for northern Illinois families. This is my first and most immediate priority for the new year.”

Representative Sosnowski has also posted an online 2017 legislative survey for constituents to provide their feedback on a wide range of state issues. The survey can be accessed by clicking HERE.
191 new laws take effect January 1, 2017. Here is a preview of 26 Illinoisans should know about:

Social media right to privacy
Public Act 99-610, House Bill 4999
Amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to make it illegal for an employer or prospective employer to request or require an employee or applicant to access a personal online account (such as Facebook) in the presence of the employer. It is also illegal to request or require that an employee or applicant invite the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account of the employee, or applicant, or join an online account established by the employer. 

Employee Sick Leave Act
Public Act 99-841, House Bill 6162
Under the new law, employees may now use personal sick leave benefits for purposes dealing with a child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or step parent. The employee can use such time as may be necessary on the same terms that employee would use the time for their own illness or injury.

A Surreal Year for Illinois

As 2016 wraps up, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary announced their annual "word of the year." Merriam-Webster is able to do this by tracking how often a specific word's definition is searched online, and how often search spikes occur. For 2016, that word is "surreal." Other words that made the Merriam-Webster's "Top 10 for 2016," include "Bigly," "Deplorable," and "Feckless."

Thinking back on this year surreal perfectly describes the Illinois legislature. The staunch opposition from Speaker Madigan to support bipartisan reforms is impossible to rationalize or defend. This feckless nature of how he governs is downright deplorable.  Illinois residents aren't just telling legislators they want a change in government through letters and phone calls anymore, they're telling legislators in droves with their feet by taking their talent and money to a state that can do better for them. 

Illinois is the only state in the Midwest that saw a population decline for 2016. You'd think after a third consecutive year of losing millennials, families, skilled workers, and tax dollars to other states Springfield would be energized for reforms. Instead Illinoisans continue to be caught in a never ending cycle.
No budget fix. Just more gamesmanship...and a group of democratic legislators sue for their pay and refuse to fix Illinois

Unfortunately, no progress was made on budget negotiations. The primary focus of negotiations during veto session was over passing taxpayer funded subsidies to support the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear power plants, which are among six nuclear plants in Illinois. 

Exelon for the past several months has been threatening a shutdown of its financially struggling nuclear power plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities if the General Assembly did not approve additional subsidies and rate increases. Initially, many in opposition to this bill referred to it as the Exelon Bailout Bill. The bill went through several changes. Initially containing a controversial new "demand charges" billing system. In addition to, unknown rate hikes, massive taxpayer subsidies for coal, wind, and solar energy industries, to name a few. To garner support for their proposal Exelon advertised this bill as the Future Energy Jobs bill claiming to keep jobs in Illinois along with supporting green energy expansion. I will admit Exelon and its supporters worked very diligently and in a compromising fashion to craft this bill from a bailout to something palatable; however, in the end, I could not endorse it.

69th District Photo Challenge
For my 2nd Annual 69th District Photo Challenge, four lucky winners were selected. Congratulations to Gordon Ellingson, Sharon Thomas, Karen Snyder, and Loreen Burton. Their photos will be displayed at the Springfield capitol. Winnebago and Boone counties have a lot to be proud of. I am thankful to serve the constituents of the 69th District and will continue to show how our community is strong, vibrant, and unique.
Gordon Ellingson, Midway Village in Rockford (above)

Sharon Thomas, River in Belvidere Park (above)
Karen Snyder, Old Mill in Belvidere Park (above)

Loreen Burton, Big Thunder Park in Belvidere (above)
Labor Board Declares Illinois Contract Talks at Impasse

Illinois Labor Relations Board declared an impasse in a 5-0 vote. This decision could open the door for Governor Rauner to declare an end to contract talks with AFSCME and impose his last, best, and final offer upon AFSCME members. AFSCME members could then accept these terms or undertake further litigation options.

Governor Rauner's spokesperson, Catherine Kelly, says that acceptance of the terms offered by Governor Rauner would save State taxpayers $3 billion over a four-year period. Major elements of these savings would be through a merit pay system and employees providing additional financial resources to their health insurance benefits. 

Illinois Budget Woes Continue
The budget impasse has caused an unprecedented backlog of unpaid bills in the Office of the Illinois Comptroller, with more than $10.6 billion in unpaid vouchers and commitments awaiting payment. The Governor's Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) projects, based on current spending and revenue numbers, that this outstanding total could reach more than $13.5 billion by June 2017. Hypothetically, the bill backlog could reach $47 billion by 2022. 
Rep. Sosnowski attended a beam placement for the Mercyhealth Sportscore Two facility in Rockford on Wednesday, October 26th. The Rockford Park District along with collaborative partners marked a milestone for the construction of Mercyhealth Sportscore Two with a ceremonial final beam placement. After a seven-year planning process construction is moving along according to plan and should be finished in May of 2017. This will be a wonderful addition to the community and demonstrates how our region continues to maintain its  position as a destination for sports tourism.