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Cunningham resolution celebrates Special Olympics milestone, honors athletes’ accomplishments

cunningham 061318CHICAGO – A resolution presented by State Senator Bill Cunningham celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics and congratulates Special Olympic athletes, past and present, on their accomplishments.

“As athletes and organizers from all over the world prepare to convene in Chicago to celebrate the Special Olympics’ 50th anniversary, I’m privileged to present Senate Resolution 1796 to commemorate the athletes who have carried this movement for their continuous inspiration over the past 50 years and to encourage the next generation of athletes and volunteers to get involved,” Cunningham said.

While the official 2018 Special Olympic Games will take place in Seattle this summer, there is a week-long series of events taking place in Chicago from July 17-21 to celebrate the Games’ 50th anniversary and raise awareness and support of the Special Olympics and its “Choose to Include” movement. Over 70,000 athletes and supporters are scheduled to attend.

Earlier this year, the Chicago Park District presented the Eternal Flame of Hope Monument as a permanent tribute to the organization and its athletes. The monument sits at the entrance of Soldier Field, the site of the very first Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics was inaugurated in July of 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of President John F. Kennedy, who invited 1,000 intellectually disabled athletes from 26 states and Canada to Chicago’s Soldier Field to compete in Olympic-style track and field events.

Cunningham’s identity theft protection bill becomes law

Sen. Bill CunninghamSPRINGFIELD – Illinois residents will no longer have to pay a fee to protect their identity when freezing their credit thanks to legislation that was signed into law today.

House Bill 4095 is an initiative of Attorney General Lisa Madigan and State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

The new law will bar credit reporting agencies from charging consumers a fee to place or lift a freeze on their credit report, and gives consumers the ability to do so electronically or over the phone instead of by certified mail.

Measure to eliminate delays in Cook County property tax refunds passes General Assembly

cunningham 031518SPRINGFIELD – Legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly today would eliminate long-term delays Cook County property owners face in obtaining refunds for flawed tax assessments and overpayments.

Senate Bill 1979 aims to provide property owners with the money they are owed in a timelier manner by increasing the yearly limit on the amount of property tax overpayments that may be refunded to $5 million from $2.5 million.

Each year, the current threshold is reached very quickly, which causes a long-term backlog in refunds that property tax owners are entitled to.

HB 1979 is sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham and State Representative Fran Hurley, Democrats representing parts of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

“Property owners should not be put on a years-long waiting list to receive money that is rightfully theirs,” Cunningham. “This legislation would alleviate that backlog by doubling the amount of money Cook County is authorized to award each year for overpaid property taxes.”

In 2017, 402 taxpayers did not receive a refund for their overpaid taxes, according to research Kensington Research & Recovery, a firm that assists taxpayers with obtaining refunds.

There is currently an estimated $94.1 million in unclaimed tax overpayments, according to the Cook County Treasurer’s office.

Cook County’s current system for issuing refunds for overpaid property taxes is simply unsustainable. Based on preliminary data, hundreds of taxpayers are set to go another year without receiving their refunds,” Hurley said. “Senate Bill 1979 will accelerate the process in which the nearly $100 million owed to property owners is recovered.”

Under SB 1979, if payment of a claim for a refund would cause the total amount of taxes and interest for all claims to exceed $5 million for the given year, the refund will be paid in the succeeding year.

SB 1979 awaits the Governor’s signature to become law.

 

Cunningham and Hurley move to streamline tax dollars to Chicago Fire Department, give firefighters a say in spending

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.

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.