Senate Grand Bargain Negotiations

Over the past few days, many constituents in my district have received robo-calls from organizations informing them to contact my office to oppose potential tax increases being negotiated in the Senate Grand Bargain proposal. Bipartisan conversations in the Senate are ongoing; however, in the House chamber, we have not achieved similar fluid communication.

Below please find some of the new revenue items being negotiated by the Senate:
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) expressed support today for Governor Bruce Rauner’s intention to veto the controversial House Bill 40, which was approved by the Illinois House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 62-55. The legislation would remove the existing ban on taxpayer-funded abortion with no restrictions through the state’s Medicaid program.

“Proponents of House Bill 40 claim it improves access to reproductive health care for women, but the facts tell a different story,” Sosnowski said. “The legislation actually diminishes protections for pregnant women by removing basic health care standards, preventing women from being provided basic information and denying all rights to unborn children.  We need to reevaluate what it means to protect women and children, because it is clear House Bill 40 is not the answer.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
By Joe Sosnowski
State Representative, 69th District

In business, job creators and entrepreneurs compete to provide the best product or service at a good value for consumers. Unfortunately, when it comes to state government, meaningful efforts to lower costs and increase value to taxpayers are too often met with viral opposition. Let me give you a current example:

Illinois’ prison inmate population has declined over 9 percent since January 2015; yet that has not stopped the Illinois General Assembly from advancing legislation that would strip the governor's ability to reduce staffing levels at state prisons. Senate Bill 19, currently pending in the Illinois House of Representatives, would mandate a headcount for personnel at the Department of Corrections (DOC) and wipe out $8 million in annual savings to taxpayers. This action essentially allows the union to manage the employees; this is an inherent conflict of interest. 

This legislation was hastily filed after the Governor announced most corrections nurses would be transitioned to a private contractor already working for the state to streamline medical services; a move that would save the state $8 million annually mostly through a reduction in benefit costs. 
Click HERE to download the application for Representative Sosnowski's Summer Legislative Internship Program!

In the Rockford area alone, there are over 30,000 people without a high school diploma or GED. Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is proactively working to remedy this challenge by sponsoring a bill that would give adult learners the opportunity to complete their high school education. The Excel Center has proven to be a premier example of how to achieve this shared goal.

Rep. Sosnowski was joined at a press conference in Rockford today by Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois, Rock Valley College and Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti to highlight House Bill 2527

To learn more about Rep. Sosnowski's bill and what it could mean for the Rockford area, please click HERE.
(Left to right) State Representative Joe Sosnowski, Kim Ryder from Goodwill of Central Arizona, Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, President Sam Schmitz of Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois, and President of Rock Valley College Dr. Doug Jensen.

Rep. Joe Sosnowski speaks during
debate on House Bill 3784
SPRINGFIELD The Illinois House of Representatives has approved legislation sponsored by State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) to make achieving a high school diploma more attainable for students who are struggling academically or those who have truancy issues. Under current Illinois law, a school or school district can deny enrollment to a student 17 years of age or older for one semester for failure to meet minimum academic standards, under certain conditions.  Representative Sosnowski’s legislation, House Bill 3784, would remove those provisions from state law. 

The bill also raises the standard for addressing students with school attendance issues by providing that a truant minor may not be expelled for nonattendance unless he or she has accrued 15 consecutive days of absences without valid cause and the student cannot be located by the school district; or the school district has located the student but cannot, after exhausting all available support services, compel the student to return to school.

“The concept behind my bill is simple; a school district should not be able to drop a student from enrollment for academic reasons,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “We have some of the finest and most dedicated educators in the state right here in Winnebago and Boone Counties. I have confidence in them to help struggling students improve their academic standing and prepare them for success after high school. We also need to give truant students every possible opportunity to stay in school and complete their education. We have a moral responsibility not to give up on them.”
Representative Joe Sosnowski's office participated in the Stateline Chamber of Commerce 21st annual "RoRo Expo" April 1-2 in Roscoe. Team Sosnowski had a booth to provide state brochures and literature about state programs and resources for residents of Winnebago and Boone Counties. Several thousand local families attended the weekend event. The 69th District is home to many outstanding local businesses, entrepreneurs and service providers; all showcased at this year's RoRo Expo.

SPRINGFIELD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today on the status of the ongoing state budget impasse amid indications that the State Senate may proceed with passing an unbalanced budget that raises taxes without matching state spending with projected revenue:

Rep. Joe Sosnowski
“We are more than halfway through the spring session with little to no progress made on the state budget. It is long past time that leaders in both parties get serious about working together to pass a responsible budget. I am proud to be co-sponsoring bipartisan pension reform legislation to save the state billions of dollars moving forward. This is one example of how we can and must work together. One thing we cannot do is pass an unbalanced budget that includes tax increases and no responsible reforms that provide taxpayer relief. We can bring manufacturing jobs back to the Rockford area and other parts of the state by insisting that economic reforms be part of any final budget agreement.”

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Legislative Update for the Week of March 20-24
Please scroll below for selected updates on the state budget, jobs, cybersecurity in Illinois, a new pension reform proposal filed today, and a helpful guide on safe driving during the spring road construction season.

Budget – COGFA testimony
  • Nonpartisan budget watchdog office testifies on FY17 budget situation.  The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) presented FY17 and preliminary FY18 budget projections to the House Revenue and Finance Committee this week.  COGFA, a nonpartisan economic watchdog office within the Illinois General Assembly, presented a revised estimate of $33.1 billion in FY17 general funds ($30.2 billion net of refund funds and non-general funds distributions) inflows for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.  These numbers represented significant reductions from the FY17 preliminary estimates of $33.9 billion ($30.9 billion net of refunds/non-general funds distributions) published by COGFA in July 2016. 
In an effort to make state government and the legislative process more accessible to Illinois residents regardless of their national origin or spoken language, State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is providing a link to translate the Illinois General Assembly website, www.ilga.gov, into any one of dozens of different languages.

The Illinois General Assembly website contains legislator profiles, full text of all legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and State Senate, live audio and video feeds of legislative session and committee hearings; and a wide variety of other legislative information and support services.

Please click any of the links below to translate the Illinois General Assembly website into your preferred language:

Spanish         Español
Arabic          عربي               
Hindi           हिन्दी      
Chinese (Simplified) 中文简体               
Chinese (Traditional) 中文繁體                
Japanese       日本語 
Korean          한국어             
Russian         Русский 
French          Français    
German        Deutsch             
Italian            Italiano           
Polish             Polski        
Greek             Ελληνικά            

You can translate the Illinois General Assembly website into as many as 57 different languages using any of the above links.

Rep. Joe Sosnowski is the chief sponsor of the bill, which could help alleviate Rockford's 'GED crisis'


By Isaac Guerrero
Rockford Register Star

ROCKFORD — Lawmakers are considering a bill that could help the Rockford region provide a high school diploma to more than 40,000 adults in Boone and Winnebago counties.

State law prevents school districts from awarding high school diplomas to students who are 21 or older. Adult learners instead have the option of earning an equivalency certificate, such as the General Equivalency Development diploma. Although more than 700 adults in Boone and Winnebago counties earn a GED diploma each year, hundreds more young adults in the region drop out of high school every year.

Illinois House Bill 2527, introduced by state Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, would effectively eliminate the high school diploma age cap. If approved, the legislation would allow a nonprofit agency, in partnership with the state Board of Education, to establish a school for adult learners that would issue high school diplomas and additional vocational credentials so that graduates have a certified job skill upon graduation…
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD The Illinois House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation today, House Bill 791, to block local governments from enacting any ordinance prohibiting the use of autonomous vehicles on its roadways. "Autonomous vehicle" means any vehicle equipped with technology that has been integrated capable of driving the vehicle without the active control or monitoring of a human operator. State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) reacted to the bipartisan consensus that led to the unanimous passage of the bill:

“In the interest of public safety, it is critical that we avoid creating a patchwork of laws throughout the state with regard to autonomous vehicles,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “If some communities allowed the use of self-driving cars while others banned it, an unfeasible situation would exist endangering public safety and creating a legal and insurance nightmare. It is more appropriate that we take the necessary time to assess this innovative technology thoughtfully and come to a consensus on the best way to move forward as a state.”
SPRINGFIELDMembers of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 voted to give their union bargaining committee the authority to call a strike on Thursday, threatening the interruption of critical taxpayer-funded services across Illinois as the union remains at an impasse in contract negotiations with Governor Bruce Rauner. Since taking office in 2015, the Rauner Administration has successfully negotiated new contracts with the state’s 20 other unions, agreements that balance the needs of Illinois’ diverse and talented workforce with respect for taxpayers.  

State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) reacted to the vote by AFSCME members today to authorize a strike:

“The Governor has negotiated in good faith with AFSCME, the only union which has refused to compromise on terms for a new contract in the past two years. As the representative of the taxpayers at the negotiating table, the Governor has consistently offered a fair, common-sense proposal that includes merit pay, allowing volunteers to lend their time and talents to assist government agencies, and stating that overtime pay can be earned for any time worked beyond 40 hours per week. Caving in to AFSCME’s extreme demands and refusal to compromise would result in higher taxes on all working families in Illinois; an outcome we should not accept. Instead of striking and jeopardizing the services Illinois families pay for and rely upon, I encourage AFSCME members to pressure their leaders to negotiate with the Governor in good faith and agree to a fair contract as soon as possible.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski listens to the
Governor's Budget Address
SPRINGFIELDGovernor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual Budget Address to a joint session of the General Assembly today, emphasizing the need to focus on economic growth and job creation as the way to achieve a sustainable balanced budget that, paired with long-overdue structural reforms, can set the state back on a path toward long-term prosperity and opportunity for every Illinois family. 


State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) called attention to a passage from the Governor’s speech that reflects the grim reality at the root of what has plagued Illinois in recent years: 

"For years now, families in Illinois have been voting with their feet. In just six years, we’ve seen a migration loss of more than 540,000 residents. They’re leaving for jobs, higher wages and lower costs of living.
 
If we had the right policies – if we’d made changes to fix our broken system – if we had just grown our economy at the national average, since 2000, we’d have 650,000 more jobs than we have today…" – Governor Bruce Rauner

“The Governor effectively identified what has been ailing Illinois; and a path forward we can commit to together as Democrats and Republicans to achieve a balanced budget,” Representative Sosnowski said. “Before we can come together to end the current budget impasse, we have to be honest with ourselves and with each other on the realities that have led us to this point, and the options that exist to move Illinois forward in a responsible way.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
ROCKFORD Illinois suffers from chronic structural inefficiencies that contribute to the destabilization of the state budget, siphoning scarce resources away from vital services meant to ensure a safety net for Illinois families. In an effort to reshape some the state’s basic priorities in a forward-thinking way, State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) has introduced common-sense solutions by crafting a good governance legislative package that improves government transparency, efficiency and accountability.

“Restoring faith in state government and opportunity and growth to our economy begins with making common-sense reforms to the shortcomings in current law that allow for waste, fraud and abuse,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “This package serves as a step towards moving Illinois forward by setting priorities to make state government more accountable and effective.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD With Illinois’ unfunded pension liability reaching an estimated $129.8 billion in November 2016 according to a report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) has introduced a package of six new bills in the Illinois House of Representatives to make common-sense, constitutional reforms to Illinois’ pension systems. 

“Inaction is not an option,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “Public employees, current retirees and taxpayers alike deserve a pension system that is in a stable financial condition, reliable for those who depend upon it now and sustainable for those are planning for retirement in the future. I have introduced this package as an opportunity to renew good-faith negotiations on ways Democrats and Republicans can work together to achieve pension reform that is constitutional, cost-saving, and constructive.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
ROCKFORDState Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) has been re-appointed to serve on the Legislative Audit Commission, the panel responsible for the oversight of the stewardship of public funds and monitoring action to correct weaknesses disclosed by the audits of state agencies.

The Commission’s work has taken on particular importance during the ongoing federal and state investigations of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino into his alleged campaign spending irregularities, which continues to cast public doubt on the integrity of the Office of Auditor General.  The Legislative Audit Commission reviews all audits conducted by the Auditor General. 

The Legislative Audit Commission is comprised of 12 legislators appointed by the General Assembly leadership with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans from both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate. 

“Ensuring the integrity of how public funds are spent is one of the most basic responsibilities of state government,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “I am honored to accept this appointment to serve as a taxpayer watchdog on the Legislative Audit Commission.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
ROCKFORDState Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today in response to the court motion filed by Attorney General Lisa Madigan late Thursday seeking to block state employees from getting paid:

“Why AG Madigan would use state workers as pawns is absolutely terrible and does little to help the impasse. She should give her father some advice and tell him to put Illinoisans first by negotiating so that we can have real reforms that grow Illinois.  His 45 years in office have not been productive for our state,” Representative Sosnowski said. 

For questions or more information, please contact Representative Sosnowski’s office at (815) 547-3436.

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Veterans Memorial Hall, Rockford
ROCKFORDState Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is offering a new online resource for northern Illinois veterans and their families to learn about the full range of state benefits and services they may be eligible for. Representative Sosnowski’s comprehensive “Illinois Veterans’ Benefits” brochure is available to view or download HERE. Constituents who do not have access to the internet may request a copy of the brochure be mailed to them by calling Representative Sosnowski’s office at (815) 547-3436. 

"One of my most important priorities is ensuring that our veterans have access to all the benefits they have earned in service to our country,” said Representative Sosnowski said. “Many veterans are not aware that some of these benefits are available to them, particularly with regard to employment, educational opportunities, and veterans’ homebuyer assistance. I hope that everyone who has a friend or loved one that has served in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces will help us reach as many veterans as possible throughout the Rockford area with this informational brochure.”
SPRINGFIELDGovernor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual State of the State Address to a joint session of the General Assembly in Springfield today, citing the challenges and opportunities facing Illinois as the state continues to grapple with a budget impasse that has now extended beyond 18 months. 
Rep. Joe Sosnowski

“The Governor again highlighted his willingness to compromise to help make Illinois an economic engine in the Midwest,” said Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford). “The State Senate in a bipartisan effort is working toward compromise, and while we can agree or disagree with the various proposals coming out of those negotiations,  the House leadership led by the Speaker who has been in office for 45 years, is showing no willingness to follow their lead and move Illinois forward. It’s a shame.”

The Governor is scheduled to submit his budget plan to the General Assembly during his forthcoming Budget Address at the Capitol on February 15, 2017. 

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Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELDThe Illinois House of Representatives voted to adopt House Resolution 46 today, a set of rules to govern the procedures of the Illinois House of Representatives for the next two years. Introduced and sponsored by Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), a top lieutenant of House Speaker Michael Madigan, the resolution was adopted by a vote of 63-53. Two Democrats voted in opposition with all 51 Republicans.

"If you are seeking fairness and democracy in government don't look at what the Springfield majority did as they adopted archaic rules that don't allow issues to come for a vote if only one member says no,” said Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford).

Representative Sosnowski co-sponsored an alternative proposal, House Resolution 47, a bill to reform the House Rules in order to make the legislative process more open and transparent and decentralize the concentration of power in the Speaker of House. Sosnowski’s bill, HR 47, was denied consideration or a vote despite having a total of 51 sponsors.

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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.