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Belvidere… As the legislature enters into the new 99th General Assembly, State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Belvidere) discussed his new committee assignments and the impact it could have on the 69th District. Rep. Sosnowski was selected to serve on five different committees that focus in on education, infrastructure, revenue, and budget appropriations.

“I am honored to have received some new assignments on key committees that deal directly with funding,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “These committees will give people of the 69th District a voice in funding education, promoting local infrastructure, finding new revenue, and approving a balanced budget.”

Rep. Sosnowski was selected to serve on the following committees; Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies, Revenue & Finance, Tollway Oversight, Appropriations: Elementary & Secondary Education, Appropriations: Higher Education, Executive, and Minority Spokesperson for Elementary & Secondary Education: Charter School Policy.

“Lack of new jobs and our spending problems have been strangling the state’s economy. Through my upcoming role on Revenue & Finance and education appropriations, I will work with my colleagues to improve the state’s operations and Illinois’ business environment. We must expand opportunities for everyone,” said Rep. Sosnowski.


Constituents can find more information on this cycles committee assignments by visiting the State website (ilga.gov). The website also provides a full calendar for this year’s spring session and committee schedule. 

Links below will direct you to the homepage for each committee:









Belvidere... Illinois has problematic issues that constantly keep the State from recovering.  Due to the State failing to resolve its most critical concerns, State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Belvidere) has offered commonsense solutions by crafting a better government legislation package that improves government transparency, efficiency and accountability.

“It’s highly imperative that we restore faith in government,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “This package serves as a step towards turning Illinois in the right direction by reducing regulations and promoting responsible government.”

The better government package includes legislation to address the state’s growing pension crisis. Illinois has a pension deficit approaching $111 billion, which means one in four State tax dollars goes towards funding pensions. This legislative package will stabilize the pension issue, provide the budget relief to fund other programs like education, and create changes to our business environment.

House Joint ResolutionConstitutional Amendment 9 if passed by the General Assembly will place a constitutional amendment on the next general election ballot allowing voters to repeal the pension protection clause in the Illinois constitution. We all contribute to the pension system and therefore deserve the opportunity to redefine the structure if necessary.

House Bill 314 changes our state’s economic development model to a public private partnership modelled off of Indiana where key community and business leaders are brought together to help lead our retention and recruitment efforts and to foster a positive atmosphere through partnerships, government reform, and pro-business policy changes that create jobs and community investment.

“This design works great at a local level with our regional economic development councils (similar to RAEDC); we need to do the same thing across the state of Illinois,” Sosnowski said.

Other bills within the package (House Bill 315 and House Bill 258)  creates an optional self-managed plan (SMP) for all state employees modeled from the SMP that was enacted for the State University Retirement System (SURS) and eliminate cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for State government legislative and executive elected officials and qualifying appointees.

“Saving the State money while taking steps to fix the pension crisis in Illinois is essential to improving how we operate,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “Our growing financial obligations to state employee pension systems continue to grow every day we fail to act. However, we can begin to mend the problem with these commonsense reforms.”

The better government legislative package reduces state spending and promotes economic growth. Additional highlights of the legislative reform package are below:

Better Government Package Highlights:

House Bill 256: Reduces filing fees imposed upon limited liability companies by 50%.


House Bill 253: Stops abuses in the state plans regarding overtime.


House Bill 260: Reduces State stipends for county officials based on population.


House Bill 314: Private Public Economic Development Program.


House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 10: Prohibits a person from holding the office of State Senator or State Representative or a combination of those offices for more than 20 years. (Term limits)





Inauguration, Budget & Executive Orders

In his inaugural address, Governor Rauner made budget reform, job creation, economic growth, and educational reform four of the top priorities of his new administration. In addition, he and his staff have signaled their readiness to use additional executive orders to reorganize State agencies, abolish redundant and unnecessary offices, and reduce State spending.

As he launched into his duties as Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner issued a series of executive orders to freeze all nonessential State spending (Executive Order 15-08), including spending on infrastructure projects. Some forms of spending are expected to continue. For example, ongoing State-financed infrastructure projects may continue if construction has started or equipment purchased. This exemption does not apply to major State programs that are currently in the planning stage, such as the proposed Illiana Tollway. State agencies are barred from awarding new contracts or grants during a review period to be supervised by the Governor’s office, which is expected to continue until July 1, 2015.

Executive Order 15-09, was issued to halt the state’s horrific revolving door history. The order bans executive branch employees and appointees from negotiating for employment with a lobbyist or lobbying firm. It creates a one-year-long barrier between the act of leaving an executive-branch position and accepting any compensation for lobbying. Thirty-seven other states have implemented this type of policy within state government. The executive order goes further reducing the per diem food and beverages lobbyists may buy a member of the executive branch. In addition, the order increases the scope of the required annual filing of annual Statements of Economic Interest by State employees. Under the expanded disclosure requirement, mandated disclosures will include additional information about each filer’s outside work, volunteer work, legal status, and property holdings.

Executive Order 15-10, was issued to increase government accountability and transparency. The order mandates Central Management Services (CMS) to update the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal website to include salary and job classification information about Rutan-exempt employees and assist local governments in doing the same.

Executive Order 15-11, reversed last minute executive orders and appointments made by former Governor Pat Quinn before exiting office.

Executive Order 15-12, orders state agencies to review state contracts within 30 days and require labor organizations, contractors and subcontractors to catalog the total number of minority and veteran participants. In addition, CMS must conduct a review of programs and goals to ensure minority-owned businesses and veteran-owned businesses are provided equal opportunities to obtain state contracts. Governor Rauner commented, "We need to ensure jobs and business opportunities are open to everyone, but especially those who serve our country or are underrepresented in the economy."
Springfield, IL … On Thursday, Governor Quinn called for a special session of the General Assembly in January to consider a 2016 special election to replace the late Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka. State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) called the move misleading and unnecessary.

“The Illinois Constitution requires Governor-Elect Rauner to appoint a new comptroller to a four-year term. This means that any measure approved by the General Assembly in the special session to hold a special election for a shorter term would require changing the constitution and therefore would require voter approval. The soonest opportunity for voters to decide on whether or not to hold a special election would be 2016, which wouldn’t make any changes before the term in question has expired,” said Sosnowski. “Any changes made to the Illinois Constitution should be carefully debated, and not be hurried through in a political, last-ditch effort by a departing Governor.”

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

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 sosnowski@ilhousegop.org.
Sincerely,

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 sosnowski@ilhousegop.org.