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. "

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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.”