Text Size
Login
config

Cunningham measure cracks down on school violence threats on social media, expands mental health evaluations

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’s identity theft protection bill passes Senate

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.

Vaccine bill designed to fight the flu epidemic passes out of committee

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.

Cunningham's advisory question on marijuana legalization passes Senate

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.

Senator Bill Cunningham

 Cunningham2014

18th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Agriculture; Appropriations II; Gaming; Higher Education (Vice Chairperson); Labor; Telecommunications and Information Technology (Chairperson); Transportation.

Biography: Served in the House from 2011-13; full-time state legislator and lifelong resident of the southwest Chicago area; born July 21, 1967; graduate of Saint Barnabas Grammar School (1981), Mount Carmel High School (1985) and the University of Illinois Chicago (1990); former advisor to Cook CountySheriff Mike Sheahan and former chief of staff to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart; youth soccer coach; parent representative on the Sutherland Local School Council; lives in Beverly with wife, Juliana, and two daughters, Madeline and Olivia.