Cunningham

  • cunningham ag edSPRINGFIELD—Senator Bill Cunningham passed legislation out of the Illinois Senate prioritizing agriculture education in the state.

    Senate Bill 2975, subject to appropriation, would create a grant to fund up to 50 percent of the personnel costs for an agriculture education teacher. If a school district is creating a new agriculture education program they could receive a grant to fund 100 percent of personnel costs in their first two years and 80 percent in the third and fourth year.

    “We need to prioritize agriculture in our schools. Our economy is driven by agriculture and yet so many students throughout the state have very little opportunity to learn about it,” Cunningham said. “This legislation would allow schools like the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences to easily maintain or create agriculture education programs.”

    The legislation would also add agriculture education as an area of identified staff shortage which would make scholarship money available for those who want to go into agriculture education. Only 61 percent of agriculture jobs will be filled with qualified graduates in the coming years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    “We need to emphasize the careers agriculture offers, and one of those is teaching the next generation about those opportunities,” Cunningham said.

    The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration.

  • cunningham rapednaSPRINGFIELD—Senator Bill Cunningham passed a measure that would help bring justice to victims of sexual assault by ensuring police departments follow-up on potential matches on DNA test kits.

    Senate Bill 2221 would require that if a police department did not follow up with the state police on a positive match, then the state police would notify the proper state’s attorney. The legislation also requires that an annual inventory be taken by both the state police and local police of all DNA kits in their possession.

    This legislation comes in response to a situation that occurred in the Village of Robbins, Illinois. The local police department was notified of a positive match on a DNA test kit. The department though did not follow up on the potential match.

    “With an issue like sexual assault, we need to take every imaginable step to bring justice to all of these cases. The ramifications of not following up on these matches could be devastating to our criminal justice system,” Cunningham said.

    The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration.

    Senator Cunningham represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago.

  • cunningham hiedcompLegislation product of investigation into perks for higher education presidents

    SPRINGFIELD—Community colleges and state universities may see a lot of changes coming soon when it comes to administration pay and severance packages.

    State Senator Bill Cunningham proposed a reform package after the Senate Democratic Caucus Report on Higher Education Executive Compensation revealed lavish perks, golden parachutes and a lack of transparency in hiring and firing of administrators.

    “This was about taking steps to protect taxpayers and tuition payers from abuse by college and university administration,” Cunningham said. “Lavish perks, like country club memberships, were forcing students to pay more and taxpayers to cover more costs when tuition was not enough.”

  • Senator Cunningham (D-Chicago) discusses his proposal to ensure that DNA testing taken after reported sexual assaults are sent to the proper labs for testing.


  • cunningham 040616Proposal would require more accountability at local police departments

    SPRINGFIELD—Senator Bill Cunningham is pushing for a measure that would ensure local police departments are held accountable when it comes to sexual assault kits.

    The legislation, Senate Bill 2221, would require that if the local police department did not follow up on the positive match, then the proper state’s attorney would be notified by the state police. It would also require that an inventory be taken both at the state police and the local police departments of all DNA kits in their possession.

  • cunningham ag edStudents looking to get into agriculture could be without the necessary educational opportunities to spring them forward in the industry.

    In the most recent budget proposal from the governor’s office, agriculture education in Illinois is set to be cut completely out of the budget. In past years, agriculture education has received nearly $2 million.

    Senator Bill Cunningham has proposed legislation that puts a priority on agriculture education instead of slashing it to zero.

    “We need to be prioritizing the industries that make Illinois great. Agriculture is one of those industries,” said Senator Cunningham. “We need to continue to invest in agriculture education, not just end it.”

  • cunningham hiedcompSPRINGFIELD—On Wednesday, Senator Bill Cunningham urged his colleagues on the Higher Education Committee to pass legislation that would reform the financial practices surrounding how higher education administration is compensated.

    The reforms were launched after a report revealed inappropriate financial practices occurring at institutions of higher education, including the recent scandal at the College of DuPage.

    “Our institutions of higher learning throughout Illinois have continued to be plagued by controversies involving excessive compensation for college administrators, which only cost the taxpayers and the students more money,” Cunningham said.

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  • cunningham fitness ctrCHICAGO— Senator Cunningham recently sent a letter to an official at Palos Community Hospital urging the hospital to reconsider their current plans to close Palos Health and Fitness Center and attempt to protect the facility and the services it provides.

    Members of the fitness center were recently notified that the facility would shut down May 1. The facility which is run by Palos Community Hospital was set for demolition to make space for a new office building.

    The facility offers many opportunities for residents to continue on a path to recovery from an illness or injury. It also allows many to be able to continue on a path to living a healthy lifestyle by offering many services including medical programs and nutrition training.

    Senator Bill Cunningham recently opposed the proposal to close the community health and fitness center over an approval to build a new office building instead.

    “This facility provides unique services that many in the community utilize to leading a healthy lifestyle,” said Senator Cunningham. “I respectfully ask that Palos Community Hospital reconsider their decision or find a way to continue to provide this excellent service to their community.”

    Senator Cunningham represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago.

  • Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) takes a moment to restate the importance of MAP grants for Illinois students and institutions of higher learning on January 28, 2016.


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  • Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) expresses his thoughts on why MAP grants are so important at a press conference on January 13, 2016.


  • cunningham bkgrd chksCHICAGO — On Jan. 1, prospective student-teachers in Illinois will be required to go through the same background check process as a regular teacher. Senate Bill 706, passed during the last session of the 99th General Assembly, improved the process of how to properly screen student-teacher candidates.

    The legislation is the result of a multi-year discussion between Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18), the Illinois State Board of Education and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Currently in Illinois, student-teachers are required to get separate background checks for each school they teach at, which can create confusion for the student-teacher and the districts where they are placed to teach.

    “Our first priority should be protecting our children while they are at school,” Cunningham said. “This law is a sustainable way to allow student teachers to get the on the job training they need while protecting our students.”

    The legislation requires that student-teachers submit to a series of background checks, including a fingerprint-based criminal history check, a Statewide Sex Offender Database check along with a check of the Statewide Murderer and Violent Offender Databases. The Illinois State Police and FBI are also required to furnish any conviction records of prospective student teachers.

    “This is about protecting our students from predators. If we want to keep excellent teachers in the classroom, we need a plan to both protect our future leaders and ensure our instructors are the best and safest,” Cunningham said.

    The legislation passed both the Senate and the House and was signed by Gov. Rauner.

    For other laws going into effect on Jan. 1, please visit the Illinois Senate Democrats’ website.

  • sb2039 passes

  • cunningham bkgrd chks(CHICAGO)— On Monday, December 7, the Senate voted to pass SB 2039. The legislation would release many non-GRF funds to go where they belong. The Motor Fuel Tax money, or gas tax, is one of the group of funds being released to local governments.

    “It is time that we give this money to the communities that need it for public safety issues, like fixing potholes,” said Senator Bill Cunningham, who voted to send gas tax revenue to local communities in May, as well.

    The House of Representatives on Wednesday, December 2, voted to send that money back to local communities and sent the legislation to the Senate. After Senate approval, it is heading to the governor’s desk for his signature.

    “The fact that we had to take this vote again is disappointing. The governor had a chance to send this money out, but instead he vetoed it. I voted to put these funds where they can do some good,” said Cunningham.

    Many communities in Cook County will now be able to use money for critical projects. While 2015 gas tax amounts are not yet available, in 2014, Oak Lawn received $1,403,471 in gas tax money. Orland Park, in 2014, received $1,405,377 in gas taxes.

    Senator Cunningham represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago.

  • cunningham hmstdexempt(CHICAGO)—State Senator Bill Cunningham, who represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago, released the following statement on the leaders' meeting set for December 1:

    “I am glad a meeting is finally occurring, but what we need now is substantial progress,” said Senator Cunningham. “I hope the governor comes to the table with every intention of bringing together a common-sense proposal that puts Illinois back on the path to financial security without sacrificing critical programs. I am glad there is a meeting but at this point we need more than just meetings.”

  • You pay at the pump, why is Springfield keeping your money?

  • cunningham csxCHICAGO—Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18th) and other local officials recently sent a letter to the Illinois Congressional delegation asking Congress to hold CSX accountable for problems in Mount Greenwood and Evergreen Park.

    “Too many residents in our communities are being negatively affected by blocked grade crossing, pedestrian safety problems and idling trains which poses an environmental hazard to our communities,” said Cunningham.

    CSX has promised to move a scheduled train off the Elsdon line, which runs just east of Kedzie Avenue, but Cunningham is concerned that this is just a continuation of the long back and forth that has occurred with CSX.

    “This is not the first time we have had CSX make a promise. Repeatedly, we receive assurances that the problems will diminish and we are continually facing the same issues. Moving one or two trains isn’t going to fix the problem,” said Senator Cunningham.

    The letter signatories who joined Senator Cunningham were State Representatives Fran Hurley and Kelly Burke, Chicago 19th Ward Alderman Matt O’Shea, and Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton. The letter accuses CSX of failing to comply with at least 14 “mitigation measures” imposed on the railroad by federal regulators when the CSX acquisition of the Elsdon line was completed in 2013. Cunningham and the other local elected officials are urging the federal government to sanction CSX with fines or more strenuous regulations.