Cunningham

  • cunningham 031518SPRINGFIELD – Rank-and-file Chicago firefighters would have greater oversight and control of funding intended for their department under legislation passed by the Illinois Senate today.

    Sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham and State Representative Fran Hurley, House Bill 5197 would establish a Foreign Fire Insurance Board, an entity that will be entrusted with the expenditure of fire insurance fees collected exclusively from insurance companies whose corporate headquarters are located outside of Illinois.

    Currently, the City of Chicago receives about $5 million in fire insurance fees, which are directly deposited into the city’s general fund. HB 5197 would transfer control of those funds to a newly-established Foreign Fire Insurance Board and require the City of Chicago to turn over fire insurance revenue to the board.

    “The legislation streamlines the flow of tax dollars and allows the Chicago fire fighters to determine how revenue intended for their own department is used,” said Cunningham, a Democrat representing parts of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “The funding will now go directly to fire suppression instead of being spread throughout the city budget.”

    Advocates of the legislation say it will improve Chicago Firefighter’s safety and effectiveness through enhancements in their equipment and training. The funds will be used to purchase of items such personal protective gear, tools, fire apparatus, enhanced training and for firehouse improvements.

    “This newly-created board will draw on the knowledge, experience, and expertise of the rank-and-file to purchase items that allow them to safely operate in the many hazardous situations they routinely encounter,” said Robert Tebbens, Director of Political Action for Chicago Firefighters’ Union. “It will also give their families confidence that they will return home safely.”

    Under current law, the Chicago Fire Department is the only fire department in the state that does not have a fire insurance board.

    The fire insurance board would consist of the department’s fire commissioner and six elected trustees.

    HB 5197 now heads to the House for approval.

  • cunningham 030118SPRINGFIELD – Local school boards would have the final authority to approve or decline new charter schools under legislation passed out of the Illinois Senate today by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and parts of the Southwest Suburbs.

    The legislation, House Bill 5175, eliminates charter schools’ ability to appeal a local school board’s decision to deny or not renew a charter school. Under current law, a charter school applicant may file an appeal with the State Charter School Commission, who can reverse the school board’s decision.

    “Local school boards are deeply invested in the communities they serve and ultimately know what’s best for their schools,” Cunningham said. “The State Charter School Commission shouldn’t be able to reverse decisions by local leaders elected by voters in that community.”

    The legislation leaves in place a provision allowing charters to be approved by referendum if at least 5 percent of the voters in a school district petition the school board.

    HB 5175 now heads to the House for concurrence.

  • cunningham 052418SPRINGFIELD - Illinois families using the Illinois Treasurer’s College Savings Pool would receive heightened safeguards on their investments and would be given the option to use the funds if unexpectedly faced with disability-related expenses under legislation passed out of the Illinois Senate today.

    House Bill 4751, introduced by State Senator Bill Cunningham, would resolve discrepancies between federal requirements and the College Savings Pool administered by the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office. The State Treasurer administers college savings programs like Bright Start and Bright Directions, which allow Illinois families to save while taking advantage of federal and state tax benefits, allowing contributions to grow on a tax-deferred basis.

  • cunningham 052318SPRINGFIELD – Local school boards would have the final authority to approve or decline new charter schools under legislation passed out of the Illinois Senate Executive Committee today by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and parts of the Southwest Suburbs.

    The legislation, House Bill 5175, eliminates charter schools’ ability to appeal a local school board’s decision to deny or not renew a charter school. Under current law, a charter school applicant may file an appeal with the State Charter School Commission, who can reverse the school board’s decision.

    “Local school boards are deeply invested in the communities they serve and ultimately know what’s best for their schools,” Cunningham said. “The State Charter School Commission shouldn’t be able to reverse decisions by local leaders elected by voters in that community.”

    The legislation leaves in place a provision allowing charter schools to be approved by referendum if at least five percent of the voters in a school district petition the school board.

    HB 5175 now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

  • cunningham 030118SPRINGFIELD – A legislative effort by State Senator Bill Cunningham to help stop the spread of influenza in hospitals and other health facilities passed the Illinois Senate today.

    The measure, House Bill 2984, allows certified local health departments and any facility licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health to implement more stringent flu vaccination policies aimed at protecting patients from exposure to the flu and improving vaccination rates.

    “Given the concrete science behind the effectiveness of flu vaccines, we have a responsibility to protect patients from being exposed to the flu virus by the public employees charged with caring for them,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

    Under current law, employees of hospitals can refuse a flu vaccination for any reason as long as they declare a “philosophical objection.” Public health experts have testified that this loophole leaves patients vulnerable to the spread of influenza while they are hospitalized. If HB 2984 becomes law, only hospital employees with religious objections and certain medical conditions will be able to refuse the offer of a vaccination.

    HB 2984 now moves to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

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  • cunningham 050318In the wake of a steep hike in the number of carjacking incidents in Chicago, the Illinois Senate took action this week to close a loophole carjackers have used to avoid prosecution and to ensure young offenders are sent to juvenile detention when arrested for carjacking incidents.

    Under the current law, an officer may only pursue auto theft charges if the person driving the car has “knowledge that the vehicle is stolen.” As a result, car thieves routinely avoid accountability by denying that they have any knowledge that the vehicle is stolen.

    State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs, is a chief co-sponsor of the legislation, Senate Bill 2339, which would allow police officers the ability infer based on surrounding facts and circumstances that an individual in possession of a stolen vehicle has knowledge that the vehicle is stolen.

    The measure would also help ensure minors charged with carjacking are detained. A recent report in the Chicago Sun-Times showed that most juvenile carjacking suspects are released to their parents or on electronic monitoring within 24 hours of arrest. SB 2339 would curtail that practice.

    “Violent offenders, regardless of their age, should not be able to escape accountability by lying to an officer about the source of their stolen vehicle,” Cunningham said. “Carjackers are aware that this outdated law allows a brazen lie to become a get out of jail free card. It’s time to put a stop to it.”

    To discourage youth from starting on the path to carjacking, SB 2339 would require that minors charged with vehicular hijacking, aggravated vehicular hijacking, or possession of a stolen vehicle, to be held for a detention hearing within 40 hours of being detained. If the court finds probable cause that the minor committed the crime, the minor would be held for a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, which would be used along with other factors to decide if the minor should be further detained, or receive counseling or other necessary services.

    “Too often, minors who commit vehicular theft are arrested and released with no determination being made as to whether or not they are a danger to their community or their own well-being,” Cunningham said. “This bill will end that practice.”

    SB 2339 passed the Senate and now heads to the House for consideration.

  • cunningham 030118Springfield – The City of Chicago would be prohibited from requiring police officers to fulfill ticket quotas and assessing officers based on the number of tickets they issue under legislation passed out of the Illinois Senate today.

    The legislation, Senate Bill 3509, is sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

    SB 3509 would rescind the City of Chicago’s exemption from a 2014 law banning counties and municipalities from assigning ticket quotas and using the number of tickets an officer issues as a performance evaluation. The law made exemptions for municipalities with their own independent inspectors general and law enforcement review authorities.

    “Policing should not be used as a revenue enhancement strategy by municipalities,” Cunningham said. “This bill will ensure our officers are not distracted from their regular law enforcement duties in order to meet ticket quotas.”

    Supporters of the legislation, such the Fraternal Order of Police, argue that ticket quotas create unnecessary tension between law enforcement and the communities they serve by interfering with officers’ ability to exercise compassion in certain situations.

    SB 3509 passed out of the Senate and now heads to the House for consideration.

  • cunningham 042518SRINGFIELD – Legislation advanced by State Senator Bill Cunningham would expand the penalties for public indecency for incarcerated individuals, resulting in more severe jail time and fines for inmates who expose themselves to female employees.

    The legislation, Senate Bill 3104, intends to curb the increasing trend of inmates exposing themselves to female public defenders and correctional officers.

    SB 3104 would allow for inmates to be charged with public indecency. Under current law, “public indecency” refers only to behavior performed in a public place such as acts of sexual conduct or a lewd exposure of the body done with intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person.

    Additionally, inmates would be required to register as a sex offender upon their second offense of public indecency. Currently, inmates are not required to register as a sex offender until their third offense.

    In 2017, 222 detainees have been charged with indecent exposure, including 144 cases where the victims were jail personnel and 29 where complaints were filed by defenders.

    “It goes without saying that female staffers deserve to do their job without being exposed to such demeaning behavior,” Cunningham said. “Even more shameful is the idea that we would expect women to continue to go to work and contend with downright harassment after more than two years of formal complaints, the first of which dates back to October 2015. Enough is enough.”

    SB 3104 passed out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee and now heads to the floor for a vote.

  • cunningham 031518SPRINGFIELD – Individuals who threaten gun violence against schools on social media would be required to reimburse police departments for added security and emergency response costs under legislation sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

    The legislation, Senate Bill 563, is aimed at reducing the trend of copycat threats in the wake of school shootings by updating the disorderly conduct statute, which is the state law most often used to prosecute individuals who make threats against schools. Under current law, those convicted of making threats are required to reimburse public safety agencies for response-related costs, but only if they make the threat via a 9-1-1 phone call or if they specifically threaten to use a bomb.

    “Most threats of violence against schools are no longer made through a phone call and increasingly, the threats make no mention of a bomb,” Cunningham said. “According to law enforcement agencies in my district, threats against schools are more commonly made via social media posts. The law needs to be updated to address this change.”

    In an additional effort to combat school shooting, the legislation would also give police departments the ability to immediately bring individuals who make threats against a school to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

    “The burden for determining whether a threat against a school is legitimate or just a prank should not fall solely on the police,” Cunningham said. “We need to empower our law enforcement and healthcare providers to work together and provide that safety net.”

    In drafting the legislation, Cunningham worked closely with Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan, whose department heightened security measures at local schools four times this year due to threats on social media.

    In some cases throughout the country, school administrators have ordered school closures as a pre-emptive measure following online threats.

  • cunningham 031518SPRINGFIELD – Illinois residents will no longer have to pay a fee to protect their identity by freezing their credit thanks to legislation passed unanimously by the Illinois Senate today.

    House Bill 4095, an initiative of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, is sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and the southwest suburbs.

    Once signed by the governor, the measure will bar credit reporting agencies from charging consumers a fee to place or lift a freeze on their credit report.

    “Illinois residents should not have to pay a fee because of the negligence of a credit reporting agency,” Cunningham said. “It is simply unconscionable that a company would charge consumers any fee after they failed to protect their personal information.”

    Under current law, credit agencies may charge up to $10 for each freeze request and each request to lift a freeze. For a freeze to be effective, consumers must contact and pay all four major credit rating agencies, which greatly expands the cost. Currently, only senior citizens, identity theft victims with police reports, and active duty service members are not charged to place a credit freeze. House Bill 4095 would extend that fee exemption to all Illinois residents.

    This comes in response to the massive data breach suffered by Equifax from May to July of last year. As many as 143 million Americans nationwide and 5.4 million Illinois residents may have been impacted by the breach of sensitive consumer information.

    Indiana, Maine, North Carolina and South Carolina do not allow credit agencies to charge fees for freezes and lifts. Additionally, six other states have introduced credit freeze legislation in response to the Equifax breach.

    The bill will take effect immediately once it is signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

  • cunningham 030118SPRINGFIELD – A legislative effort to help stop the spread of influenza in hospitals and other health facilities was approved by an Illinois state senate committee today. The measure, House Bill 2984, is sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and the southwest suburbs.

    The bill allows certified local health departments and any facility licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health to implement more stringent flu vaccination policies aimed at protecting patients from exposure to the flu and improving vaccination rates.

    “Given the concrete science behind the effectiveness of flu vaccines, we have a responsibility to protect patients from being exposed to the flu virus by the public employees delegated to care for them,” Cunningham said.

    Under current law, employees of hospitals can refuse a flu vaccination for any reason as long as they declare a “philosophical objection.” Public health experts have testified that this loophole leaves patients vulnerable to the spread of influenza while they are hospitalized. If HB 2984 becomes law, only hospital employees with religious objections and certain medical conditions will be able to refuse the offer of a vaccination.

  • gun dealerIn spite of repeated pleas from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers to support commonsense measures to curb gun violence and help sweep unregistered firearms off the streets, the governor vetoed Senate Bill 1657, the Gun Dealer Licensing Act.

    According to a 2014 report from the University of Chicago Crime Lab, almost 20 percent of all guns recovered from crimes scenes in Chicago between 2009 and 2013 came from three of the state’s 2,400 dealers. Although Democratic and Republican lawmakers supported the gun dealer licensing legislation, along with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson and many gun safety advocates and victims' families, the governor vetoed the bill today.

  • cunningham 030118SPRINGFIELD – Illinois voters may get the chance to let their voices be heard on the subject of the legalization of cannabis under legislation passed in the Illinois Senate this week. The legislation, Senate Bill 2275, would place an advisory question on the 2018 ballot asking Illinois voters if they are in favor of marijuana legalization.

    State Senator Bill Cunningham, the sponsor of the measure, says the advisory question will help legislators gauge the public’s opinion on the subject. Most states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana have done so through ballot initiatives.

  • cunningham 022817SPRINGFIELD – Illinois voters may get the chance to let their voices be heard on the subject of the legalization of cannabis under legislation passed out of committee in Springfield this week. The legislation, Senate Bill 2275, would place an advisory question on the 2018 ballot asking Illinois voters if they are in favor of marijuana legalization.

    State Senator Bill Cunningham, the sponsor of the measure, says the advisory question will help legislators gauge the public’s opinion on the subject. Most states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana have done so through ballot initiatives.

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  • cunningham crosscheck 111517CHICAGO – Amid rising concerns about data security and voters being wrongfully removed from registration rolls, State Senator Bill Cunningham chaired a joint committee hearing Wednesday to examine the Illinois State Board of Elections use of a controversial national voter registration database known as "Crosscheck."

    At a joint hearing of the House Elections Committee and the Senate Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee, legislators grilled election officials over the many problems associated with the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck, a registration system that compares state voter rolls.

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