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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 sosnowski@ilhousegop.org.

Sincerely,

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 www.JoeSosnowski.org.

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 www.northernidc.org, and to learn more about the Peppy Up program visit http://www.northernidc.org/pdatabase/contentv/indexpa.html.

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.

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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 sosnowski@ilhousegop.org.
After two years of construction and reduced speeds on the I-90 expressway between Elgin and Rockford, all lanes are open.


State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) was on hand for a ceremony removing construction barrels officially opening two new lanes on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) to motorists between Elgin and Rockford. 


More information on Jane Addams construction and other state road projects can be found by visiting the official Illinois Tollway website.

Newly-Released Emails Confirm Politics Part of Troubled Quinn Program
“…we are trying to get the base out…”

On Wednesday, October 8, and Thursday, October 9, members of the Legislative Audit Commission met to evaluate and further investigate key audit findings in Governor Pat Quinn’s disgraced Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI). The Commission continued its inquiries into the scandal-ridden NRI program, a $54.5 million taxpayer-funded program. Revelations since the program’s operation in 2010 indicate that money officially allocated to violence-reduction initiatives in challenged neighborhoods may actually have been expended as political walking-around money.  The physical focus of the NRI program was on urban neighborhoods in the city of Chicago.  The NRI program peaked during the weeks just before and after the November 2010 gubernatorial election, in which Pat Quinn won election to a full term by a margin of less than 1 percent of the statewide electorate.

Prior to the meeting, on Tuesday, Oct. 7, former Quinn chief of staff Jack Lavin turned over personal emails subpoenaed by the Legislative Audit Commission that tie the 2010 election and Quinn’s campaign to the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. In a Sept. 5, 2010 email to Ben Nuckels, then Quinn’s campaign manager, Lavin outlined strategies to appeal to African-American voters. “If we are trying to get the base out and that’s the key to our victory, we better prioritize correctly,” Lavin wrote. “The African-American community tends to break late so we have some time. The Gov’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative will also help on the jobs and anti-violence messages.”

Day one of NRI audit hearings highlighted gross mismanagement and a serious lack of oversight. In a marathon 12-hour hearing of the Legislative Audit Commission in Chicago Wednesday, October 8, the Commission questioned several key players in Governor Quinn’s troubled Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI).
To read more click here.

 
Illinois Employers Warn of New Layoffs

New layoff notices indicate at least 600 jobs will be lost in Illinois during the fall of 2014. State law requires businesses with at least 75 full-time employees to provide their workers and the State with at least 60 days’ notice of pending plant closures of mass layoffs. For a list of potential layoffs and more information click here.

Illinois employment numbers have been sluggish since the “Great Recession” and our state’s poor economic growth policies do nothing to attract or retain businesses. Moody’s Standard and Poor’s ranked Illinois 50th in projected job growth, the worst rate of job growth of any state in the country for 2014. As a state, we must seek to reduce personal income taxes, fix the high costs of workers’ compensation, reduce business taxes to encourage growth, and reduce spending and free giveaways. We must move from a tax and spend policy to a pro-growth approach.

New Questions Raised about Quinn’s Illiana Expressway Project

The proposed 47 –mile Illiana Expressway would connect Indiana’s Interstate 65 with Illinois’ Interstate 55 near Wilmington, Illinois.  A high-speed, limited-access highway, expected to be operated by a private-sector partner, would charge a toll for trucks and passenger cars. The project has become a top priority for the Governor despite questions over funding and whether or not the Illiana Corridor project is necessary. Part of the financing for the project is expected to come from the tolls that will be charged to motorists, but some of the cash flow may have to come from the State’s hard-pressed Road Fund.
 
Opponents of the $1.5 billion road projects argue that the financial resources required to complete this project could benefit other much needed transportation projects. According to an Infrastructure Report Card, Illinois roads and bridges are currently rated a C- which is reflective of chronic delayed maintenance and under investment across most major categories like roads, transit, waterways, and rail.
 
To read more 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 by email at sosnowski@ilhousegop.org.

Rockford, IL...Earl Williams, President of the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau® and fellow board members presented the 2014 Friend of Agriculture Award to State Representative Joe Sosnowski along with other local legislators on Wednesday, October 15, at the Illinois Machine Shed restaurant in Rockford, IL. 


The Friend of Agriculture Award honors State and Federal legislators who understand the importance of Illinois Agriculture. Legislators receiving this award recognize the far-reaching benefits of Illinois’ agricultural products and the importance farmers play in providing quality food, fiber, and fuel for our State, Nation, and World. 

The 2014 Friend of Agriculture Award was presented to Congressman Adam Kinzinger, 16th District (represented by John Walsh, Field Representative); Congresswomen Cheri Bustos, 17th District (unable to attend); State Senator Steve Stadelman, 34th District; State Senator Dave Syverson, 35th District (unable to attend); State Senator Tim Bivins, 45th District (unable to attend); State Representative John Cabello, 68th District; State Representative Joe Sosnowski, 69th District; State Representative Robert Pritchard, 70th District; and State Representative Brian Stewart, 89th District. 
 

Photo Caption: The 2014 Friend of Agriculture Award presented by the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau on Wednesday, October 15th at the Illinois Machine Shedd Restaurant, Rockford, IL to the following legislators (L to R): State Representative Robert Pritchard, 70th District; State Senator Steve Stadelman, 34th District; Earl Williams, President of the Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau®; State Representative Brian Stewart, 89th District; State Representative John Cabello, 68th District; Representative Joe Sosnowski, 69th District; and John Walsh, Field Rep. on behalf of Congressman Adam Kinzinger, 16th District.