Latest News

In Memory of:

Judy Baar Topinka
January 16, 1944 - December 10, 2014

Judy Baar Topinka, State Comptroller Passes Away
Judy Baar Topinka passed away at the age of 70 on Wednesday, December 10.  The incumbent State Comptroller had just been reelected by popular vote to serve a second term in office; she would have taken her oath of office alongside Governor-elect Bruce Rauner on Monday, January 12. 
First elected to statewide office in 1994 as the state Treasurer, Topinka temporarily stepped down in 2006 following an unsuccessful run for Governor.  The veteran executive then again sought statewide office in 2010 as state Comptroller, easily winning election to a four-year term in a new office.  
I had the opportunity to work in her Treasurer's office over a college summer years ago, and I was able to see firsthand her passion for the State of Illinois and for doing the right thing. As a legislator, I appreciated working with her and respected her common sense, straight forward approach. She was one of a kind and will be missed.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan was asked to render an opinion on the issue of who should fill the position of State Comptroller after January 12, 2015.  She concluded the authority to fill the vacant office for the new Comptroller term should be transferred to Governor-elect Bruce Rauner; however, she highly encourages a special election for the position in 2016.  To read more click here.
Governor-elect: Illinois Budget Crisis Much Worse than Has Been Discussed
As part of the transition to his inauguration on Monday, January 12, Bruce Rauner again visited Springfield this month.  The outgoing Quinn administration’s Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) began to show him and top aides the State’s financial books, and Rauner confided to the press on Tuesday, December 2 that what he saw was “worse than discussed.”
To read more about Illinois budget and Rideshare legislative update click here.
As always, if you have any questions or comments about the topics discussed in this newsletter, or any other part of state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (815) 547-3436 or email me at

State Representative Joe Sosnowski issued the following statement on the loss of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka:

"My thoughts and prayers are with Judy Baar Topinka's friends and family. I had the opportunity to work in her office over a college summer years ago, and I was able to see first hand her passion for the State of Illinois and for doing the right thing. As a legislator, I appreciated working with her and respected her common sense, straight forward approach. She was one of a kind and will be missed."
As part of Rep. Sosnowski’s new video series, “Questions with Joe”, he takes a look at legislation that could affect the way ridesharing businesses like Uber and Lyft operate. This week the General Assembly approved a bill that places a set of common sense consumer protections to provide a baseline for how these businesses to operate in Illinois. The bill now heads to the Governor's office for review. 

You can watch the video below to learn more.

For more information, please contact Rep. Sosnowski's office at (815) 547-3436, or by email at

Thank you Veterans for your commitment & dedication to serving and protecting our country!

Governor-elect Bruce Rauner Names Transition Team

Preparing for his inauguration as the 42nd Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner named the five leaders and 26 committee members of his transition team. The team will work to transition Rauner into the Governor’s office by examining the credentials of the men and women of all parties who want to help lead Illinois’s troubled state government in 2015-2019.

Congratulations to two local area residents, on their selection to join the Rauner transition team.

With Landmark Fracking Decision, Jobs and Opportunity Coming to Southern Illinois.

The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved the fracking regulations that are legally required for engineering teams to enter Illinois properties and drill for fossil fuels.  Up until now, Illinois has not had rules or a permit structure in place to cover horizontal drilling in sedimentary beds of shale rock.  A newly-invented segment of oil drilling technology, “fracking,” has sprung up to puncture these tightly-bound particles of rock and force them to yield their crude oil and natural gas. A significant deposit of New Albany shale, believed to be oil-rich, lies underneath many counties of southeastern Illinois.

More than one year ago, the General Assembly directed DNR to adopt fracking rules and start granting permits. The new state law was passed by both houses as SB 1715 and became law in June 2013. However, fracking technology is complex, and the Department took significant time to publish their rules proposal. During this waiting period, advocates pushed DNR to take steps to effectively ban fracking altogether, despite the existence of the new statutory law.  

Working with the members and staff of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, a General Assembly panel that oversees the rulemaking process, lawmakers negotiated with DNR to adopt key changes and modifications to the proposed fracking rule to bring its text into compliance with the intent of the General Assembly as passed in SB 1715.

JCAR’s approval of the modified rules, granted on Thursday, November 6, is a key step in unlocking Illinois’ oil-bearing shale for drilling and production. Actual Illinois drilling activity will remain contingent on the fluctuations of global prices for crude oil. This is a great example of how Illinois can lead the United States toward energy independence while creating thousands of well-paid jobs.

As always, if you have any questions or comments about the topics discussed in this newsletter, or any other part of state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (815) 547-3436 or by email at


State Representative Joe Sosnowski
Rockford, IL... In response to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules landmark approval of Illinois fracking regulations, State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement:

“Fracking offers a dependable, low cost source of energy that will benefit small businesses and families alike and I am pleased by the decision to move forward with allowing natural gas production through fracking in Illinois.  The rules approved today represent the strongest set of hydraulic fracturing regulations in the nation – for the public water supply, for air, and for public health and safety.  This is a great example of how Illinois can lead the United States toward energy independence while creating thousands of well-paid jobs.”

For more information, call Rep. Sosnowski’s office at (815) 547-3436 or visit

Rockford, IL ... The Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition will host the first annual Dine in Denim for Diabetes dinner in honor of National Diabetes Day at Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center on Friday, November 14th from 6:00 to 8:30 PM.

The dinner is intended to educate community members on diabetes awareness and prevention. Speakers include State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford), medical professionals, persons living with diabetes, and Rockford area students who have participated in the NIDC’s “Peppy Up” diabetes prevention program.

“Peppy Up” is a book with an engaging curriculum program that is helping 5th grade students at Rockford Public Schools work together to prevent Diabetes. University of Illinois medical and pharmacy students have helped the Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition create a school based curriculum to educate children how their environment impacts their health.  The curriculum features a “Peppy Up” food list, foods that help children prevent Diabetes; fun exercises; and highlights the importance of getting enough sleep. Students are taught that while Type 1 Diabetes is not preventable, Type 2 Diabetes is genetic and in some cases is preventable.

“Rockford is the fourth most obese city in the nation, and our community is at even greater risk for the epidemic of diabetes,” said Patti Nelligan, MS, RN, Children’s Diabetes Prevention Committee, Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition. “The Peppy Up program is an engaging opportunity for students to be mentors in their schools, families and communities to raise awareness of Diabetes and help prevent the epidemic. This campaign has been very positive for children, and children have eaten healthier from reading the book. Some RPS fifth graders will even make a special “Peppy Up” performance at the Dine in Denim dinner.”

“Diabetes Awareness day is intended to shed light on this silent but serious epidemic. Diabetes affects more than 800,000 Illinois adults whose medical expenses can cost up to 2.5 times more than

those without the disease,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “With one in three children projected to have diabetes by 2050, the Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition’s Peppy Up program is a welcome addition to the classroom and I applaud the work of Rockford Public Schools and the Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition for their commitment to improving children’s lives.”

“Rockford Public Schools has initiated numerous programs to improve the health of children and the community of Rockford and I am happy to be collaborating with the Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition (NIDC) to have our local college and high school students mentor younger children through the Peppy Up campaign and school curriculum,” said Dr. Ehren Jarrett, Superintendent of Rockford Public Schools.

“Diabetes Awareness Day provides an opportunity for legislators to partner with groups like the Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition to promote prevention and understanding of the serious disease. Diabetes can put someone at higher risk for heart attack or stroke, and for other complications, including kidney failure, adult blindness and amputations,” said Sen. Syverson.

For more information about the Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition, please visit, and to learn more about the Peppy Up program visit

The Northern Illinois Diabetes Coalition (NIDC) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping persons affected by diabetes with quality care, education, and support.  Their mission is to provide services to people in 15 counties in Northwest Illinois regardless of income, color, gender, creed, language, or disability and help facilitate access to continuing care. The NIDC was organized in 1999 and currently supports and provides funding for various community campaigns designed to prevent diabetes through education.


Comptroller Counts $5.82 billion in Unpaid Bills

Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka announced the October 2014 count of unpaid state bills increased $500 million compared to last month. The massive $5.82 billion figure includes $2.72 billion in bills actually presented to the Comptroller for payment.  
An additional $2.2 billion was in the pipeline process throughout various State agencies as of Tuesday, September 30, and additional past-due spending reflected lagging vouchers in comparison with fall 2013. More information on Illinois’ unpaid bills is available on the Comptroller’s monthly spreadsheet of the State’s cash-flow condition, “Monthly Money Matters”.

Fuel Prices Down...Why? Thanks in Part to Fracking.
More than 2 million U.S. oil and gas wells outside of Illinois have utilized hydraulic-fracturing technology, leading to new nationwide production of more than 4 million barrels of oil per day. Fracking is responsible for allowing oil companies to unlock large reserves of oil and natural gas that were previously inaccessible. This technological advancement has led to a U.S. oil boom and has helped to lower gas prices in Illinois.
Meanwhile in Illinois, negotiations continue on new rules that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will use to regulate future fracking in Illinois. The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) met on Tuesday, October 14 in Chicago and learned that progress on finalizing these rules is being made.  The Committee will meet again on November 6 in Chicago, and its members express hope that the rules will be final by that date.  JCAR is a twelve-member bipartisan legislative panel that oversees the administrative rulemaking activity of the State.

Enough with Corporate Handouts

As reported in Crain's Chicago Business by Joe Cahill

Amazon Inc. is scheduled to open a warehouse in Illinois that will employ 1,000 people by 2017. But Governor Quinn has not told taxpayers what Illinois will give Amazon in return.

It's not really a question of what, but how much.A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity acknowledges the state is likely to pick up a share of the costs of the new facility. “We expect that we will be negotiating a subsidy agreement with Amazon,” the spokesman says.

Click here to read more.

Is more money the answer for education?

Speaking to the Illinois Principals Association last week, State Superintendent of Schools Chris Koch decried what he called the drastically underfunded status of Illinois public schools and said that an allocation of an additional $3 billion to $4 billion per year in State school aid to public school districts is needed to fully fund the education budget.  The additional aid would be in addition to increased payments also due from taxpayers to the State-financed teacher pension system.  

State Spending on Education has Grown 61%

Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) reports, other than in fiscal year 2009, when Illinois received more than $1 billion in K-12 federal stimulus funds, state funding for education is at an all time high. State funding, which totaled $9.4 billion in fiscal year 2013, has grown 61%. In addition, average funding per pupil is also at an all time high at $11,842.

As always, if you have any questions or comments about the topics discussed in this newsletter, or any other part of state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (815) 547-3436 or by email at