Ready or Not, Here They Come!

2018 ushers in over 200 new laws to be enacted in Illinois effective January 1. A short summary highlighting a few of the new laws are below. For additional information on all the new legislation, please click here.

Business Focused: 
House Bill 302; P.A. 100-0543: Finding Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits
Requires insurers to request information sufficient to ensure all benefit or proceeds are appropriately distributed to beneficiaries of a deceased individuals' insurance claim. Prior to the enactment of this legislation, it was the beneficiaries sole-responsibility to seek out and claim the insurance benefits.

House Bill 736; P.A. 100-0347: Small Business Grant Program
The legislation offers public-aid recipients with support and guidance in developing new start-up businesses.

Senate Bill 298; P.A. 100-0207: Consumer Fraud Prices - Services
Allows for the differentiating of service prices based on specific factors, including expertise, the amount of time devoted to the task, and the cost of providing the service. Hair salons, tailors, dry cleaners, and barbershops will be required to publicly post a service price list.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski joined representatives from Enbridge Energy in Belvidere on Thursday as they donated a vehicle to the Boone County Building & Zoning Department.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (right) joins representatives from Enbridge Energy at Rock Valley College on Monday presenting their scholarship donation to the Rock Valley College Foundation. 

ROCKFORD State Representative Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, thanked Enbridge Energy Company, Inc. at a check presentation ceremony held at Rock Valley College on Monday where representatives from Enbridge announced their donation of five $1,000 scholarships to the Rock Valley College Foundation for students in Boone County. First established in 2015, the Enbridge Energy Company Pipeline Industry Awareness Scholarship is open to engineering students, as well as students in vocational and technical programs such as welding, mechanical technology or electrical technology. 

“In making this investment, Enbridge continues to demonstrate their commitment to helping provide opportunities for students in Boone County to earn their degree and become the next generation of leaders in one of our economy’s fastest-growing and most critical industries,” Representative Sosnowski said. "It is a privilege to work with the leadership and staff at Enbridge to strengthen and provide educational opportunities for students at Rock Valley College.”
ROCKFORD State Representative Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, has published a new online resource for parents, donors and organizations interested in Illinois’ new School Scholarship Tax Credit by providing information about the process and rules concerning the Invest in Kids Act on his official state website, Constituents can access the information by clicking on the “Invest in Kids” icon on the homepage.

“I encourage everyone in our community interested in this program to check my website regularly for information, updates and resources about how to maximize our ability to get the most out of this opportunity and truly invest in kids,” Representative Sosnowski said. "My office is working with the Illinois Department of Revenue to keep local stakeholders and interested donors informed about how this new scholarship tax credit will open doors for students from all walks of life to access excellent schools and allow parents to choose which type of education best fits their family.”

Illinois enacted the Invest In Kids Scholarship Tax Credit Program in 2017. This program offers a 75 percent income tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute to qualified Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs). The SGOs then provide scholarships for students whose families meet the income requirements to attend qualified, non-public schools in Illinois.
ROCKFORD State Representative Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, announced today that the State of Illinois has approved the release of $11 Million in grant funding owed to reimburse Rock Valley College for the renovation and expansion of the Classroom Building I at the Mulford Road campus. Work on the project began in May 2014 but stalled when the State froze capital spending in July 2015. 

"I am very excited about what this grant funding means for the continued growth of Rock Valley College as they train the workforce that is the backbone of our region’s economy,” Representative Sosnowski said. “Rock Valley College is an integral leader in preparing a new generation of students and young professionals for career success; making our community a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

“We are thankful to Representative Sosnowski, the state legislative delegation, the Governor’s office, and the Illinois Community College Board for their help in getting these funds released to reimburse the College for the Classroom Building I project that was recently completed to better serve our students and our community,” said Dr. Doug Jensen, President of Rock Valley College.
ROCKFORD State Representative Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, will host an informational meeting to update interested members of the public, school choice advocates and the media on Illinois’ new School Scholarship Tax Credit program from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 7 at the Diocese of Rockford, located at 555 Colman Drive in Rockford.

The meeting will include discussion of the School Scholarship Tax Credit guidelines, roll out, and recently released rules from the Illinois Department of Revenue. Attendees will also have an opportunity to ask questions about the process and engage in dialogue about how to utilize the program to benefit local students and families.

"Illinois’ new scholarship tax credit program will open doors for students from all walks of life to access excellent schools and allow parents the opportunity to choose which type of education best fits their family,” Representative Sosnowski said. “I encourage everyone interested in providing the best quality education for all our kids to attend this informational meeting and get your questions answered.”

Community Clothing, Food, & Toy Drive Information

#GivingTuesday (November 28th ) is the international kick-off day for making donations over the Christmas holiday season. There are many effective, useful, and worthy charity programs. I encourage you to inspire your family, friends, and colleagues to help support a program or organization you admire for its contributions to the community. Below are some opportunities for giving I have been made aware of this holiday season. Remember your support is key to helping the charity of your choice be successful.

Belvidere Police and Volunteers In Police Service (VIPS), will be collecting non-perishable food, toiletries, new toys, gloves, hats, mittens, and scarves. Drop off locations and dates may be found here.

Please visit Amazon Smile when holiday shopping, all you need to do is visit and select Aunt Martha's as your charity. Then, you can shop as you normally do and Amazon will donate a percentage of your purchases to Aunt Martha's Health & Wellness at no expense to you.

Children's Home + Aid Holiday Shoppe is a store where children shop with volunteer Shoppe elves while their parents take a break. Gifts are priced from $1 to $5.  Proceeds benefit MotherHouse Crisis Nursery. Click here for location and date information.

Culvers in Belvidere is selling calendars for $2 to benefit the Belvidere-Boone County Food Pantry. There are several coupons for savings included with the calendar. The pantry is looking for non-perishable food items, clothing, and other household products. Please click here for location and drop off times.

Making a donation in an honoree's name is popular this holiday season. Consider donating to the Northern Illinois Food Bank. For a$10 donation, you will receive a 5x7 holiday card to mail to the honoree. A $10 donation will provide $80 worth of groceries for a family. Donations are 100% tax deductible. To find out more ways to help or make a donation click here.

ROCKFORD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is encouraging constituents in Boone and Winnebago Counties to shop local this Saturday, November 25 in support of small and family-owned businesses on Small Business Saturday, which has grown into a national tradition since its inception in 2010. 

“With this upcoming weekend being the busiest shopping weekend of the year, this is a terrific opportunity to rediscover the abundance of goods and services available here in our own backyard,” Representative Sosnowski said. “By shopping local this Saturday, you are helping our community’s best and brightest entrepreneurs continue to provide jobs for thousands of Stateline area families.”

There are 1.2 Million small businesses in Illinois, employing 2.4 Million people across the state. Small businesses account for 99.6% of all Illinois businesses, employing 46% of the state’s total workforce. Construction, real estate and arts, entertainment & recreation are the three largest small business employers in Illinois. Small business created 43,836 net jobs in Illinois in 2014.

For a directory of local businesses in your community, please click on either of the following links:

Representative Sosnowski serves the 69th District, which includes portions of Rockford, Belvidere, Roscoe, Rockton, South Beloit, Cherry Valley, Machesney Park, Poplar Grove, Garden Prairie, Capron, New Milford, Shirland and Timberlane.

# # #

Thank you to all those who participated in the 69th District Photo Challenge Contest. There were many great pictures of scenic locations in Winnebago and Boone Counties submitted by talented constituents.

Congratulations to the winners; Sharon Thomas (Rockford Arboretum, Top Left), William Eklund (Belvidere Park, Bottom Left) and Karen Snyder (Belvidere Park, Bottom Right).

To all our veterans, active-duty military, National Guard, reservists and their dependents, 

I wanted to share this news with you about a new hotline and legal support services network available to you, regardless of where in Illinois you call home. Please feel welcome to share this information with family, friends and neighbors. 

Sincerely Yours, 

- State Rep. Joe Sosnowski

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski
By Karen Kidd | Rockford Sun

The recently failed Student Acess Bill, which would have broadened financial aid available to students regardless of documentation status, was defeated because it was money the state doesn't have to spend, according to Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford).

"Our state universities have already been forced to do more with less during the two-year-long state budget impasse from which they are still recovering,"Sosnowski told the Rockford Sun. "A majority of Illinois House members recognize that wherever you stand on the issue of federal immigration reform, we should not extend taxpayer-funded benefits to those who have not yet attained legal citizenship."

Sosnowski argued that the priority needs to be on reversing the out-migration of Illinois’ best and brightest students who have been leaving en masse to attend colleges and universities elsewhere.

"Once we lose them, it’s not likely that many of them ever come back," he said. "This has a long-term negative impact on Illinois’ economy and separates thousands of parents from their adult children who, after college, are likely to start their careers and a family of their own in whichever state they left Illinois for..."
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski's office attended the groundbreaking ceremony in Rockton today for the new Field House at Hononegah Community High School. Participants included Superintendent Dr. Lynn Gibson, School Board President David Kurlinkus, Hononegah High School Principal Eric Flohr, Rockton Mayor Dale Adams, Roscoe Mayor David Krienke, South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl, and several Hononegah school board members and local township officials. 

United States and State flags at half-staff from Sunrise on Thursday, November 9, 2017, until Sunset on Saturday, November 11, 2017

Governor Bruce Rauner has issued a notice that all persons or entities covered by the Illinois Flag Display Act are to fly the flags at half-staff in honor of:

Rockford Police Officer Jaimie Cox

State agencies are asked to lower the United States flags and the State flags at all buildings from:

Sunrise on Thursday, November 9, 2017, until
Sunset on Saturday, November 11, 2017

Here is the Governor's Proclamation in memory of Officer Cox:

By Jack Wuest
Executive Director, Alternative Schools Network

In a state wracked by partisan stand-offs, a new, life-changing policy occurred with nearly unanimous, bipartisan legislative support and the governor’s signature.

This new law will improve prosperity by allowing Illinois residents over 21 to obtain a high school diploma. This was the work of state Rep. Joe Sosnowski and state Sen. Steve Stadelman. Currently, dropouts cannot earn high school diplomas once they reach 21. They are limited to GED certificates.

The diploma offers a better path to job training and colleges and universities. Data released by the governor suggests a diploma can boost lifetime earnings by more than $670,000…
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski attended a presentation on new neurological surgeries and a tour of the new addition at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford on Friday.
The Illinois House of Representatives this week took action to override many pieces of legislation vetoed by the Governor and dealt with new bills brought forth by members for consideration. Below is an overview regarding some of the major bills. Legislators will be back in Springfield for another Veto session November 7th through November 9th. As a reminder to override a Veto issued by the governor it takes 71 votes in the House.

Local Right to Work Zones:
  • Senate Bill 1905 (SB 1905) - Creates the Collective Bargaining Freedom Act. Provides that it is the policy of the State that employers, employees, and their labor organizations are free to bargain collectively. Provides that the authority to enact laws or rules that restrict the use of union security agreements between an employer and a labor organization vests exclusively with the General Assembly. Prohibits local governments from establishing a right to work zone. Those elected officials who do so are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Override failed in the House (70-42).
Credit Reporting Consumer Fees:
  • House Bill 4095 (HB 4095) - Amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Provides that a consumer reporting agency may not impose a charge on a consumer for placing a freeze, removing a freeze, or temporarily lifting a freeze. Passed in House (109-0).
Student artwork displayed online and at Tollway oases through November 3

DOWNERS GROVE, IL – Beginning today, October 27, through Friday, November 3, the public can go online and vote for their favorite entry in the 2018 Illinois Tollway Map Cover Art Contest sponsored by the Illinois Tollway, Blick Art Materials and MB Real Estate Services Inc. (MBRE). The top 10 semifinalist entries in the student art contest can be viewed on the Tollway’s website and at Illinois Tollway oases. 

“The artwork submitted by students illustrates what they think makes Illinois a great state,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Greg Bedalov. “The public now has the chance to help us choose from among the best submissions we received which artwork will make the cover of our 2018 map.”

In celebration of the State of Illinois’ bicentennial in 2018, the Illinois Tollway invited students to illustrate the different things that make Illinois a great state and submit artwork that focuses on what makes them #IllinoisProud. More than 120 students from 25 schools throughout the region, from Chicago to Rockford, participated in the art contest.
Thank you, Comcast Newsmakers for allowing me the opportunity to speak to your viewership about some of the important issues the General Assembly focused on this year.

Former members of the Guard and Reserve who do not have any periods of active duty other than their initial active duty for training and annual training are now eligible to receive “Veteran” on their driver’s licenses. 

"This bill ensures that every man and woman who has served this state and nation is recognized,” said Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries. "Our veterans have given so much for us, and I am glad Illinois is taking this step to expand designations."
Last year, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2173 to allow National Guard members and reservists to obtain the veteran identifier on their Illinois driver's license. Read more:

The Illinois Department of Transportation is seeking input on the state's rest areas.

To enhance traveler safety and comfort, IDOT maintains a system of 30 rest areas and 11 welcome centers on highways throughout the state, which serve more than 36 million visitors annually. IDOT wants to make sure these service centers are kept clean, safe, and updated with travel-related amenities to enhance the travel experience for Illinois residents and visitors.

Illinois' rest areas and welcome centers are open 24 hours a day and feature restroom facilities, picnic areas, lighted walkways, maps, security cameras, parking for recreational vehicles, and commercial trucks, among other services.

Help shape the future planning of rest areas by completing IDOT's Illinois Rest Area Survey.

For a paper copy of the survey call 402-399-1405.
Today Rep. Sosnowski had the opportunity to meet with fifth-grade students at Cherry Valley Elementary School and explain his role as a legislator as part of the "Principal for a Day" program. Great conversation and good questions. We are fortunate to have such outstanding teachers and students here in Illinois' 69th District.  

Thank you to all the farmers and farm families of Boone and Winnebago Counties on #NationalFarmersDay! We are grateful for the way you cultivate our land as you grow the crops that feed Illinois and the world. Remember to #ThankAFarmer today!

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski receives the "Friend of Agriculture" Award from the
Illinois Farm Bureau in 2014.
Thank you, Triangle Metals in Rockford for offering a tour of your manufacturing facility for the 2017 Regional Manufacturing Day! The tour offered an opportunity for high school students to see details of the industry and learn about modern manufacturing techniques.

Federal Tax Reform

On October 5, 2017, the Federal House of Representatives passed its 2018 budget resolution by a vote of 219-206, reaffirming GOP lawmakers commitment to bring forth tax reform. The justification for tax reform isn’t simply the code’s convoluted structure, but history has shown that tax reform spurs job and economic growth. It is not a simple task to balance reform and the federal deficit, but it is important for Illinoisans to know how proposed changes will affect them financially.

The federal tax code originally started with 400 pages and has grown to a monstrosity of 75,000 pages containing 4 million 
words. The current GOP Tax reform plan seeks to consolidate the federal government’s seven tax brackets into three, reduce tax rate burdens, eliminating some benefits and deductions, and close loopholes that are contributing to the federal deficit. As with any government discussion focused on policy changes advocates and lobbyists fighting to keep their perks eventually become winners or losers.
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) spoke at and participated in the groundbreaking ceremony  for Natural Choice in Loves Park today. We are very excited for the economic opportunities and job growth the addition of this manufacturing facility brings to our area. 

Governor Rauner signs Rep. Sosnowski's HB 2527 into law in Rockford on Friday.

ROCKFORD Governor Rauner signed legislation into law on Friday afternoon in a public ceremony at the Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois headquarters, sponsored by State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) to help the more than 40,000 adults in Winnebago and Boone Counties without a high school diploma attain their education and advance toward career success.

Representative Sosnowski’s legislation, House Bill 2527, allows a nonprofit agency, in partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education, to establish a school for adult learners that would issue high school diplomas and vocational training certifications to prepare students with career skills upon graduation. 

Goodwill Industries administers the schools through their Excel Center program. First established in Indiana in 2010, the program has since grown to include 12 schools across Indiana with additional ones in Memphis, Tennessee, Austin, Texas and Washington, D.C. Representative Sosnowski’s bill paves the way for an Excel Center to be located in Rockford.

“With the signing of this new law, adult students of all ages will have the opportunity to obtain a high school degree and climb the ladder of success,” Representative Sosnowski said. “This law paves the way for the creation of excel centers which will open doors to personal growth and career advancement for adult learners through the success of the program established by our friends at Goodwill of Northern Illinois. Students will be able to not only receive their high school diploma, but also the potential obtain a Career and Technical Education certificate.”
Good things are happening in Cherry Valley! Today there was a groundbreaking for Happy Life Laundromat by Cherry Bowl. This is a state-of-the-art facility that will use high-efficiency equipment and isn't coin operated. You will use a debit/credit card to load money onto a Happy Life Laundromat frequent shopper reward card. Congratulations and thank you to all the partners that made this happen for the community.

Thank you to the Illinois Collation of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) for helping me host a citizenship workshop. Navigating the U.S. citizenship process can be challenging and these workshops allow applicants to have their questions and concerns addressed by knowledgeable individuals. I was delighted that many individuals both young and old took advantage of this opportunity.     

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) participated in the groundbreaking for the new McDonald’s in Rockton on Wednesday. The new restaurant will be at the corner of Rockton Road and Quail Trail, 4567 E. Rockton Road. Applications for employment at the new McDonald's will be accepted in October, with the restaurant set to open in mid-December. To read more, please click HERE

By Scot Bertram | Illinois News Network

A new law is designed to protect Illinois consumers from years of back-billing by local utility providers.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, says previously there was no limit as to how many years of payments could be recovered if a local, municipal utility discovered an issue.

“There’s been numerous instances locally and around the state, where through no fault of the customer, municipalities or sewer plants have gone back and required that they back bill as much as ten years,” Sosnowski said. “That’s just way too much of a burden for something that’s not the consumer’s fault.”

Sosnowski says the amounts owed can be enough to cause enormous hardship for individuals or businesses in the state...
SPRINGFIELD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement tonight following final passage of a bipartisan compromise on education funding reform, Senate Bill 1947, which was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 73-34-3:

"This compromise bill brings a scholarship system to Illinois that will allow students from all walks of life to access excellent schools and will allow parents the opportunity to choose which type of education best fits their family. If families are in failing school districts, they will have alternatives. "

# # #
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD – A new bipartisan law co-sponsored by State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) will enable local school districts to keep more of the federal funds designated for them by the U.S. Department of Education by reversing a provision in state law that, until now, allowed the State to withhold a significant portion of those funds to cover teacher retirement costs. House Bill 656, recently signed into law as Public Act 100-0340, ensures that local school districts across Illinois, including Rockford Public Schools District 205, will get to keep federal funds provided to them under Title I and Title II  for the normal costs of the employer’s share of a teacher’s retirement contribution. House Bill 656 is estimated to save Rockford Public Schools District 205 an estimated $1.69 million.

“This new law is a victory for local school children, teachers and parents in Rockford and in every part of our state,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “Local school districts will now receive the federal funds owed to them for normal teacher pension costs, which the State of Illinois has been unfairly withholding from them to pay for the state’s own mistakes of the distant and recent past.”
School choice programs provide families with the opportunity to choose the academic environment that best matches their students’ educational needs, rather than being restricted to attending a school based only on where they live. Many low-income families face financial barriers limiting where their children can attend school, and as a result are sometimes forced without other options, to attend failing schools. Charter schools have helped create some options.

A recently proposed scholarship program attempts to increase school choice opportunities for all families by creating a state-funded program where individuals and corporations can donate to a scholarship program and receive a “dollar-for-dollar income tax break” based on their program contribution. A Chicago Tribune Editorial supported the initiative, calling it “a lifeboat for families trapped in chronically underperforming schools”. Seventeen other states have a similar tax-credit scholarship program.

Opponents have condemned the proposed program, arguing that it will hurt public school districts. David F. Larson, a superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87 wrote in the Chicago Tribune to “beware of snake oil salesman”, and ultimately to avoid scholarship proposals because it would funnel tax revenue away from public schools. This is a legitimate concern if you are looking to protect the monopoly of public education.  The reality is that parents deserve a choice especially in cases where there are underperforming school districts.  We in state government should do everything we can to empower parents, especially in low-income neighborhoods.
A new law spearheaded by State Representative Joe Sosnowski will protect consumers from being back-billed for years of local utility charges caused by the utility’s own error. House Bill 3400, recently signed into law as PA 100-0178, ensures that families and businesses served by local, municipal utilities will now enjoy the same back-billing protections as customers served by larger utility companies in Illinois.

“Before the signing of this bill, municipal utility billing companies could back-bill a customer for 10 years or more when the municipality itself erred on billing,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “The new law prevents residents from being gouged with years and years of bills when the utility was the one at fault.”

Unaccounted for water or sewage service can happen because of a lack of meters or the utilities own billing mistake.  But once the error is discovered, Rep. Sosnowski stressed,  there was previously very  little in the way of limitation on how far back a local public utility could go to seek compensation for the unbilled service. In the Village of Greenfield, the local sanitary district mistakenly stopped billing residents in 2009 as the City of Joliet had assumed providing that service. The city of Joliet back-billed residents in Greenfield for $197,000 in unpaid sewage service in 2015.  Bills for $2,000 went out to about 100 Greenfield residents.

Under Rep. Sosnowski’s new law, municipal utilities will only be allowed to back-bill residential customers for up to 12 months of unbilled charges and non-residential customers for up to 24 months.

“Other public utility providers are regulated by the Illinois Commerce Commission and already had regulations in place limiting back-billing for usage discovered at a later date. Families and businesses served by utilities run by their municipalities now have equal protection,” Rep. Sosnowski said.
State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is sponsoring new legislation to repeal the costly Cook County “pop tax”. Rep. Sosnowski this week joined a number of his House Republican colleagues calling for prompt consideration of House Bill 4082 which would eliminate the new tax on sugary beverages that will not only cost families more at the grocery store, but could cost Illinois jobs and more than a billion dollars in economic activity.

The tax, which went into effect on August 2, imposes a new one cent per ounce tax on sweetened beverages sold in Chicago and Cook County. It will result in Cook County consumers having to pay on average 67 percent more for a 2-liter of pop, 43 percent more for a gallon of juice drink or sweetened iced tea, and 29 percent more for a 12-pack.

“Families are still reeling from the 32% state income tax increase forced on them this summer and
now they’re hit with another government cash grab that will do more harm than good. This ‘pop tax’ needs to be repealed,” said Rep. Sosnowski.

The City of Philadelphia recently enacted a similar, 1.5-cent-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages and found that following implementation beverage sales fell by as much as 50 percent and more than 400 jobs were lost. Rep. Sosnowski noted that an economic analysis indicates that the “pop tax” impact on Cook County could be even worse, potentially resulting in a loss of 6,100 jobs, $321 million in lost wages and $1.3 billion in lost economic activity. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently notified Cook County that portions of the tax were illegal and that the state could stand to lose more than $86 million in federal funding if the problems are not resolved.

House Bill 4082 would repeal the new Cook County ‘pop tax” and prevent any home rule county from imposing a tax on sweetened beverages based on volume sold.

 “We all know this type of tax doesn’t work. It will never raise the amount of revenue projected, but it will most certainly hurt Illinois families and businesses, and that’s why nearly 90% of Cook County residents oppose it,” Rep. Sosnowski said.

 Rep. Sosnowski wants to know what you think about the Cook County “pop tax”. Click “Support or Oppose the Pop Tax” in the right hand margin of this website to weigh-in.
Today Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) joined with community members to welcome Aunt Martha's new Rockford Community Center at Swedish American Hospital. Aunt Martha's continues to set a remarkable example of what it means to treat more than just symptoms; but to help men, women, and children of all ages live healthy active lifestyles. The partnership between Swedish American Hospital and Aunt Martha's will have countless benefits for our community.

Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) hosted a coffee talk at Sophia's Restaurant in Roscoe this morning. Special thanks to all those who were able to attend. Rep. Sosnowski appreciated your questions and listening to your concerns.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski
We already have an overly complicated funding formula that is near impossible to explain to the average Illinois resident.  The newly proposed evidenced-based formula, Senate Bill 1, makes our current formula look simple in comparison.  Unfortunately, it essentially says that we are underfunding our schools to the tune of billions of dollars.  Essentially by passing this new formula, we are setting the pathway for more taxes in the future to fulfill the financial demands from the formula.  Additionally, the formula doesn’t change outputs.

Ohio, North Dakota, Arkansas and Wyoming have all had “evidence-based” funding in place, yet in all those states, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, not only has student achievement on NAEP tests failed to grow at the rate the evidence-based funding model promises, but achievement has been virtually flat.
ROSCOELocal residents with questions or concerns on issues impacting the State of Illinois are invited to attend “Coffee Talk with Joe” hosted by State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) at Sophia's Restaurant in Roscoe on Tuesday, August 15.  The event is free and open to the public. Coffee will be provided courtesy of Representative Sosnowski:

Coffee Talk With Joe
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
8:00 am to 9:00 am
Sophia's Restaurant
5467 Bridge Street
Roscoe, IL 61073

“Community coffees are a valuable opportunity for me to listen to the concerns of local residents firsthand,” Representative Sosnowski said. “We are at a critical juncture in state history in terms of the budget, state spending, taxes, and the investments we make in education, public safety and many other areas. I encourage everyone who has questions, comments or concerns to come make their voice heard at my coffee talk in Roscoe.”
ROCKFORD Winnebago and Boone County families are invited to attend State Rep. Joe Sosnowski’s annual Kids’ Health and Safety Fair, to be held from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm on Saturday, August 5 at Rockford Christian Schools, located at 1401 N. Bell School Road in Rockford. The event features over 50 health and safety booths from local organizations, businesses and government agencies that provide a wide range of educational, health and child care, recreational programs and other activities for kids.

Other special attractions include the popular Cool Vehicles exhibit featuring over 20 trucks and emergency vehicles for kids to see and interact with; as well as a car seat safety check, bouncy houses, petting zoo, Knocker Ball, a free kids identification kit and diabetes screening. Guests are encouraged to bring a donation of canned food items to enter the raffle for prizes and giveaways. Admission to the Kids’ Health & Safety Fair is free and open to the public:
ROCKFORD – State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) will host his 2017 Ice Cream Social for local kindergarten through sixth grade students who participated in his ‘To the Library & Beyond! Summer Reading Program’ on Wednesday, July 26, from 5-7 p.m. at Peak Sports Club, located at 4401 Peak Drive in Loves Park. 

“This year’s summer reading program, “To the Library and Beyond!” featured the theme of space exploration as a way to illustrate to kids the unlimited paths of adventure they can discover through reading,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “We will be recognizing the readers who completed the program with ice cream, certificates and some great prizes.” 

Participants were allowed to choose their own books and were asked to complete and return a list of books read before attending the ice-cream party. At the celebration, the summer readers will enjoy ice cream, receive prizes for their achievement as a summer reader, and also be entered for the chance to win various gift cards to Barnes and Noble.
ROCKFORD – State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today on Senate Bill 1, the education funding reform bill waiting to be transmitted to the Governor:

“Instead of looking for ways to ensure the best for our children and school districts, Democrats are holding school funding hostage in order to play politics and pay into a broken and unfair system. The fact is, South Beloit School District 320 would lose over $181,000 in new funding under Senate Bill 1 compared to our alternative education funding reform plan, Senate Bill 1124, which would provide an increase of $556,918 to South Beloit students and classrooms."

"Our kids’ education is too important not to get this right. We should reject Senate Bill 1 which shortchanges our local school districts at the expense of the Chicago Public Schools system. The idea of school funding reform is to help all children in Illinois prosper and South Beloit school children deserve fair funding. Senate Bill 1 diverts their resources and other Winnebago and Boone County schools to Chicago, a city that hasn't increased property taxes to fund schools like the rest of the state."

The Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc proposed rail line is a poorly constructed proposal. As a concerned citizen and legislator I signed onto Illinois House Resolution 437 (HR437), which opposes the Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. proposed rail line that would run through Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. This resolution passed the House with a vote of 103-0 on June 29, 2017.

This is a massive proposal that is very costly and has a significant number of moving parts. At this time no state or federal dollars are allocated for the project, it is a private investment.  I will continue to ensure accountability and transparency as this project develops.

- State Rep. Joe Sosnowski

Rep. Joe Sosnowski
ROCKFORD--- On July 6, 2017, the State House of Representatives overturned Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of a 32% permanent state income tax hike and $36.5 billion spending plan by a vote of 71-40. These bipartisan veto overrides were supported by 14 Republicans and 57 Democrats ending the more than 2-year budget impasse.

“It is very unfortunate that Springfield passed yet another massive tax increase, this time permanent, which will continue to drive businesses and taxpayers out of our state,” said State Representative Joe Sosnowski. He added, “In 2011 Illinois decided to temporarily raise its income tax to deal with its fiscal mismanagement rather than implement structural reforms and spending reductions. In response, outward migration skyrocketed. When people move they take their income and talent with them. This budget relies on the same broken policies that have destroyed our state for years.”
Budget Veto Override

On July 4th, the day we celebrate our sovereignty and reaffirm our country's commitment to freedom and liberty a budget was passed that further protects an entrenched leadership, broken political system, and fiscal absurdity. Governor Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 42 (SB42) which implements a permanent 32% income tax increase, inadequately addresses our fiscal crisis, and does nothing to overhaul the root problems of our economic deficiencies. Illinois cannot continue a tax and spend approach. Furthermore, bond rating agencies have warned Illinois to quit the gamesmanship and address the festering problems that continue to plague our economic recovery.

The people of Illinois, the social service providers in Illinois, businesses, and vendors of our great state deserve a budget that timely issues payment and is fiscally responsible. Illinois needs reforms. A tax increase only rewards our government for its heinous mismanagement and financial ineptitude. 
ROCKFORD– State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) passed legislation on concurrence from the Senate today to allow for the creation of adult learning education centers to issue high school diplomas in accordance with the guidelines outlined in the bill. The bill, House Bill 2527, is important because it allows adults who have "aged out" (21 or older) of being able to obtain a high school diploma from a high school to obtain an actual diploma, not a GED.

“This provides a new opportunity to combat low educational attainment,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “I am pleased that the Senate has alleviated any concerns with funding for this legislation and it is on its way to becoming law.”

Furthermore, this bill does not appropriate any tax dollars from the state. Funds for these centers are through private donations or other financial resources. No state funding for current programs will be diverted to this new effort.

This legislation will provide greater opportunities for residents of all ages to pursue not only their high school diploma, but additional college coursework and credentials that will positively change their employment and economic outlook.  We are grateful to Representative Sosnowski and all our local elected officials for their vision and leadership in this endeavor and look forward to the next step,” said Courtney Geiger, Mission Services Director for Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois.
BELVIDERELocal residents with questions or concerns on issues impacting the State of Illinois are invited to attend “Coffee Talk with Joe” hosted by State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) at Ned’s Restaurant in Belvidere on Friday, July 7.  The event is free and open to the public. Coffee will be provided courtesy of Representative Sosnowski:

Coffee Talk With Joe
Friday, July 7, 2017
8:00 am to 9:00 am
Ned’s Restaurant 
2132 Business Route 20
Belvidere, IL 61008

“Community coffees are a valuable opportunity for me to listen to the concerns of local residents firsthand,” Representative Sosnowski said. “We are at a critical juncture in state history in terms of the budget, state spending, taxes, and the investments we make in education, public safety and many other areas. I encourage everyone who has questions, comments or concerns to come make their voice heard at my coffee talk in Belvidere.”
ROCKFORD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today on the protest taking place outside his district office:

“I support every American’s First Amendment right to free speech and assembly, including the right to peacefully protest or demonstrate at the offices of their elected officials. Everyone should have the ability to make their voice heard in our democracy; and I want today’s demonstrators to know I respect their voices and concerns. We all agree that the current state budget impasse must end.  I support passing a full-year balanced budget with reforms that provide relief to property tax payers and make our economy more competitive so that Illinois can once again be a place where people can afford to live, work and raise a family. I look forward to returning to Springfield and advocating for northern Illinois families during special session to achieve this goal.”

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CHICAGO – House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and a group of House and Senate Republicans today introduced a package of bills to end the budget impasse. The bills represent a compromise balanced budget and reforms that address the priorities of both parties, and urged the General Assembly to return to Springfield to vote on this proposal.

“Time is running out before the fiscal year ends, and we must act now! Where is the sense of urgency with Speaker Madigan to end this stalemate? Lawmakers should be in Springfield working around the clock until our job is finished. This comprehensive budget package with structural reforms that we are proposing today is the path forward to breaking the budget impasse,” said Durkin. 

The comprehensive proposal includes a truly balanced budget, a four-year hard spending cap, lasting property tax relief, and changes to our regulatory system that will create jobs and grow the economy. The bills also include a $250 million increase for the new school funding formula, and fulfilling commitments to restore child care eligibility to 185% of the federal poverty level and a wage increase to Direct Support Professionals. It also includes term limits on legislative leaders and constitutional officers.
Rep. Joe Sosnowski sponsored a free luncheon for seniors at Belvidere High School on Tuesday with the Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce. Lunch was provided by Tropical Oasis Restaurant & Catering. Rep. Sosnowski enjoyed greeting local seniors and answering their questions about state government.
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today after the Illinois House of Representatives approved SB 81, legislation to raise the Illinois minimum wage from the current $8.25 per hour to $15 per hour:

“The Springfield majority has approved nearly $ 2 Billion in new costs to taxpayers so far this spring. The minimum wage increase costs the state more money and they have no way to pay for our current debt, let alone new costs. It is a fantasy land budget process where math doesn't matter.” 

Prominent examples of new spending approved by the Illinois House of Representatives this spring include:

Tuition Grants to College Students (HB 1316) - $429 mil
Raise Minimum Wage to $15 per hour (SB 81) - $1.5 billion (but could be greater)
Waiving Fee for Expungement of Arrest Records (SB 1781) - $2 mil
Pay Raise for Health Care Facility Workers (SB 1353) - $6.2 mil
Costs to Start Licensing Student Loan Servicers (SB 1351) - $300,000
Taxpayer funded abortion under Medicaid (HB 40) - Estimates suggest cost could be up to $60 million per year 

The State of Illinois is rapidly approaching two full years without a budget. Democrats hold a 67-51 seat majority in the Illinois House of Representatives and a 37-22 seat supermajority in the Illinois Senate; yet have thus far failed to pass a state budget. According to the State Comptroller, Illinois’ bill backlog exceeds a record-high $14.4 Billion as of May 26.

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