Cunningham

  • Cunningham’s measure to bring long-awaited casino to Chicago now law

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  • Senators join Pritzker to launch Connect Illinois plan, announce $50 million in broadband expansion grants

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  • Senate President Don Harmon announces appointments to Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission

    harmon 03052020CM0660SPRINGFIELD, IL – Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) announced four appointees to the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission, a group created to help guide Illinois through the reopening process following stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of coronavirus.

    Senators Christopher Belt (D-Centreville), Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) will represent Senate Democrats on the commission. 

  • Cunningham: New state budget prioritizes critical services like unemployment program, public health

    cunningham 052320CHICAGO – State Senator Bill Cunningham is pleased that the budget signed into law today by Gov. JB Pritzker funds critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic for Fiscal Year 2021.

    “These are uncertain times, but the budget that was signed into law today will provide stability for the people of Illinois,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “It’s critical that we ensure the services Illinois families need remain available while our state recovers from this pandemic.”

    As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois has seen record levels of unemployment, causing challenges for the state’s unemployment insurance system. In response, the budget provides nearly $60 million to the Illinois Department of Employment Security to help them respond to the increasing demand.

    “The job losses we have seen over the last few months are unprecedented, and our unemployment system has struggled to keep up with skyrocketing claim numbers,” Cunningham said. “This funding is essential to protecting Illinois families during this crisis and providing workers with resources to get them back to work as soon as possible.”

    The budget also provides significant investment in public health to help Illinois recover from COVID-19, including an additional $600 million for the Illinois Department of Public Health and an additional $400 million for local health departments throughout the state. The plan also includes a funding increase for Medicaid to ensure everyone can access the health care they need during this crisis.

    “This budget recognizes the importance of supporting our state and local health departments as we guide Illinois through this emergency,” Cunningham said. “This additional funding will be critical to helping public health officials keep families safe.”

  • Cunningham succeeds in long effort to make Chicago casino fund police and fire pensions

    cunningham 052320CHICAGO – Shortly after taking his seat in the Illinois Senate in 2013, Senator Bill Cunningham introduced legislation requiring the city of Chicago to dedicate future revenue from a proposed casino to the city’s financially strapped police and fire pension funds. At the time, the thought of Chicago ever getting legislative approval to open a casino seemed like a distant and remote possibility.

    That possibility became a reality last week when Cunningham, serving as chief sponsor, helped push Senate Bill 516 through the General Assembly. The legislation made a number of changes to the state’s gaming laws and will enable Chicago to open its long-sought casino. When fully operational, the casino is expected to funnel more than $200 million dollars a year to Chicago’s police and fire pension funds.

    “The idea of a Chicago casino was purely hypothetical in 2013, and some were convinced it would never happen,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest subrubs. “But we knew that was the best time to put a marker down, before a fight began over how to spend the money. If the casino ever opened, we didn’t want to see the new revenue going to newly created programs, not when the city owed billions of dollars to its pension funds.”

    As chief sponsor of SB 516, Cunningham was able to ensure the intent of his 2013 legislation remained in the law. The measure passed both the Senate and House with comfortable, bipartisan majorities. As a result, the taxes collected by the city on all slot machines and table games in the new casino will go exclusively to Chicago’s police and fire pensions.

    “This massive new revenue source won’t solve the pension funding crisis overnight,” Cunningham said. “But it is a big step in the right direction. And best of all, the new casino dollars will reduce the pressure placed on Chicago property taxes, which until now has been the only source of revenue for the police and fire pension funds.”

    SB 516 is expected to be signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker in the coming weeks.

  • Cunningham cosponsors measure to protect first responders, essential employees during pandemic

    cunningham floor 052220SPRINGFIELD – A measure cosponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham that would expand protections and eligibility for benefits for first responders and other essential employees during the COVID-19 pandemic passed the Illinois Senate.

    “These men and women are putting themselves at great risk to provide us with the critical services we need during this pandemic,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “We need to ensure that they have adequate protections should they get sick as a result of their work.”

    Though worker’s compensation does not normally cover illness, these are not normal times. Senate Bill 2455 allows employees to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if the they contract COVID-19. 

    However, the legislation also creates a mechanism for employers to rebut their claims.

    Employers may rebut this presumption by:

    • Demonstrating that for at least 14 days prior to the date the employee claims injury, the workplace was following up-to-date public health guidelines appropriate to their type of business,
    • Demonstrating that the employee in question was working from home for a period of at least 14 days prior to the injury claim,
    • Or demonstrating that the employee was exposed to the virus by an alternative source outside the workplace.

    The legislation also includes a similar rebuttable presumption for benefits provided to the families of Chicago police officers, firefighters and paramedics who die from COVID-19. Under the measure, it is presumed that they contracted the virus in the line of duty, affording their survivors with associated death benefits.

    “Due to the nature of their work, our first responders are among those with the greatest risk of contracting COVID-19,” Cunningham said. “In the unfortunate case that a first responder passes from the virus as a result of their work, it’s essential that we make sure their family can access the benefits they are entitled to.”

    The measure also makes changes to Illinois’ unemployment insurance system to help maximize the relief Illinois residents can receive from federal relief packages, including:

    • Extending benefits until funding is no longer available from the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act.
    • Waiving the one-week waiting period for claims related to COVID-19 until available funding under the CARES Act expires or the governor’s final disaster proclamation expires, whichever comes last.
    • Not charging employers for unemployment benefits paid to a person whose unemployment is the result of COVID-19.
    • Expanding unemployment insurance eligibility for non-instructional education employees, such as teacher’s aides and cafeteria workers.

    “These provisions are critical to our residents’ ability to qualify for much needed funding from relief packages from the federal government,” Cunningham said. “I’m glad that the Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan fashion to get this done for our state.”

    House Bill 2455 passed the Senate 50-4. 

  • Cunningham highlights new resources to help reduce cancer risk for firefighters

    firefighter dr 051420CHICAGO – State Senator Bill Cunningham is commending the Illinois Fire Service Institute, Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal and Mutual Aid Box Alarm System Illinois for creating a new project to help mitigate increased cancer risks for firefighters.

    “Firefighters risk their lives every day to protect us, and it’s critical that we take steps to keep them safe as well,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “I’m grateful to these agencies for their commitment to continually finding new ways to protect the health of our firefighters.”

     

  • Cunningham: Expanded telehealth services coming to Evergreen Park

    cunningham telehlth 041520CHICAGO – Telehealth services for those at risk of COVID-19 are being expanded in eight locations throughout the state, including Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, State Senator Bill Cunningham announced Monday.

    The state of Illinois, in partnership with OSF HealthCare and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, has launched a new Remote Patient Monitoring Program and Pandemic Health Worker Programs to support residents across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. OSF HealthCare is a statewide health system that merged with Little Company of Mary Hospital earlier this year.

    “With many of our hospitals at capacity during this pandemic, it’s critical that we expand services like telehealth that allow people to seek care from home,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This new program is a great step toward increasing our telehealth capacity, and it is based here in our community thanks to Little Company of Mary’s new affiliation with OSF.”

    Pandemic Health Workers will provide care digitally for people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and need to stay home to protect themselves and others.

    Area residents are eligible for care through the program if they show COVID-19 symptoms or are at a high risk for contracting the virus, but do not require emergency or inpatient care. To seek care through the program, call the OSF hotline at 833-673-5669.

     “If your symptoms are mild, I urge you to call the OSF hotline rather than seek care in person,” Cunningham said. “By staying home, you can help save lives.”

     More information is available at http://www.osfhealthcare.org​.  

  • Cunningham: New loan, grant programs available for small businesses

    cunningham 033020CHICAGO – State Senator Bill Cunningham encouraged area restaurants, hotels and other small businesses to take advantage of new emergency assistance programs Monday.

    “It’s been difficult to watch so many of our local businesses close due to the coronavirus outbreak,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “We need to do everything possible to help local businesses stay afloat during this pandemic.”

  • Cunningham encourages residents to report scams, price-gouging related to COVID-19

    Sen. Bill CunninghamCHICAGO – State Senator Bill Cunningham is urging residents to file complaints with the Office of the Attorney General if they experience price-gouging, scams or other unfair practices related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    “We all have a part to play in preventing bad actors from using this pandemic to exploit others,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “I encourage anyone who has information on price gouging or scams to report it to the Attorney General’s Office.”

  • Evergreen Park, Worth school districts receive property tax relief grants

    Senator CunninghamCHICAGO – The school districts of Evergreen Park and Worth will be eligible to receive property tax relief thanks to a state grant program, State Senator Bill Cunningham announced Friday.

    “One of the top issues in our state right now is the need to find new solutions to our sky high property tax rates,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This program is a critical step toward bringing those rates down in some of the highest taxed school districts in Illinois.”

    Evergreen Park Community High School District 231 will receive $668,831 in grant funding while Worth School District 127 will receive $866,277.

    The grants will be distributed through the Illinois State Board of Education’s Property Tax Relief Grant program, which seeks to ease the burden on residents of heavily taxed school districts. The amount of the grant then becomes a permanent part of the districts’ yearly base funding amounts going forward.

    “The funding available through these grants is going to be a major boost for these school districts for years to come,” Cunningham said. “This is going to help us start shifting some of the school funding burden away from local taxpayers and onto the state.”

    More information about the Property Tax Relief Grant is available at www.isbe.net/proptaxrelief.

  • Cunningham named president pro tempore of Illinois Senate

    Senator CunninghamSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham was named president pro tempore of the Illinois State Senate Tuesday by Senate President Don Harmon.

    “I’m honored to have the opportunity to continuing serving in the Illinois Senate as a part of President Harmon’s leadership team,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This is an exciting new role for me and I look forward to the new challenges it brings.”

    As Senate president pro tempore, Cunningham will serve as a trusted advisor to the Senate President and a senior member of his leadership team.

  • New law allows earlier access to senior tax break

    homestead exemption 011420A new measure sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) that would accelerate access to a property tax break for seniors was signed into law Tuesday.

    “This bill is an opportunity to test a more efficient process while still providing the same or better level of service,” Ellman said. “This particular example prioritizes the needs of seniors on fixed-incomes and ensures awareness of relief programs available to our older population. I will continue to seek more efficient processes that serve Illinoisans.”

  • Cunningham announces expanded benefit opportunities for seniors

    seniors 010820SPRINGFIELD – More seniors will be eligible for certain state benefits under new changes implemented by the Illinois Department on Aging, State Senator Bill Cunningham announced Tuesday.

    “Many seniors live on a fixed income, and we need to ensure that all of them have access to the benefits they need,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This program provides valuable assistance to some of the most vulnerable people in our state. Expanding its availability is simply the right thing to do.”

    The new rules increase annual income limits to participate in the Benefits Access Program, which includes the Secretary of State license plate discount, seniors ride free transit benefit and persons with disabilities ride free transit benefit. Eligibility for the program is now determined by income as follows:

    • For households containing one person, an annual income of less than $33,562
    • For households containing two persons, an annual income of less than $44,533
    • For households containing three or more persons, an annual income of less than $55,500

    For applications submitted between January 1 and April 15, income amounts from 2018 will be used to determine eligibility. For applications submitted after April 15, income amounts from 2019 will be used.

    The changes come as part of the bipartisan budget implementation bill passed by the General Assembly last spring. This is the first time the annual income limits for the program have been increased since 2010.

    Applications may be submitted online at www.illinois.gov/aging under the “Benefit Access” tab. For assistance, call the Illinois Department on Aging Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (hearing impaired call 1-888-206-1327).

  • Senate Democrats push for elected Chicago school board, improved conditions for students and faculty

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  • Governor signs Cunningham’s measure to deter school threats

    Sen. Bill CunninghamSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham’s legislation to deter threats from being made against schools on social media was signed into law by Gov. Pritzker this summer.

    “False threats are not only terrifying for students, parents and faculty, they also divert emergency response resources away from places where they’re really needed,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This legislation will provide us with a mechanism to impose consequences that will deter these threats from being made.”

    Under Illinois law, a person commits the offense of disorderly conduct when he or she calls 911 for the purpose of making a false complaint or providing false information, including a threat against a school.

  • Cunningham advances measure to crack down on school violence threats made on social media

    cunningham 050919SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham that seeks to deter threats from being made against schools on social media was approved by the Senate Criminal Law Committee Tuesday.

    “False threats against our schools not only cause a panic, but also trigger costly emergency responses that divert first responders’ attention away from situations where they’re really needed,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “School safety is a serious issue and we need to do all we can to deter false threats from being made.”

    Under Illinois law, a person commits the offense of disorderly conduct when he or she calls 911 for the purpose of making a false complaint or providing false information, including a threat against a school.

    House Bill 1579 expands the offense to include threats made on any platform, including social media. Current law only covers threats made by telephone or threats that specifically mention the use a bomb.

    If an individual is convicted of transmitting a false threat, he or she must also pay for the costs of the emergency response the threat triggered.

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

    “According to law enforcement in my district, threats of violence against schools are increasingly coming through social media rather than the phone and make no mention of a bomb,” Cunningham said. “We’re in the social media age right now and this trend is only going to continue. We need to update our laws to reflect modern concerns.”

    The measure further allows the court to order a mental health evaluation for a minor charged with disorderly conduct for transmitting a threat to a school.

    “Police and health care providers need to work together to determine whether or not a threat is legitimate,” Cunningham said. “We need to use every tool available to make sure our students aren’t at risk.”

    The measure will now go before the entire Senate.

  • Cunningham passes bill to protect correctional officers from assault, public indecency

    cunningham 041219SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed a measure Thursday introduced by State Senator Bill Cunningham that would crack down on assault and public indecency in prisons and jails.

    Senate Bill 416 would allow a prison warden to revoke up to 90 days of pre-trial credit or good behavior credit from an individual if the prison disciplinary board sustains charges of public indecency, assault or battery on a peace officer.

    The legislation would further allow prison wardens to revoke up to 365 days of credit for each subsequent charge that has been sustained by the prison disciplinary board.

    “Peace officers have dangerous jobs and it’s imperative that we protect these men and women just as well as they protect us,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “These penalties will be an effective deterrent against inappropriate behavior in our prisons and make them safer for both the guards and the inmates, themselves.”

    The Senate approved the measure in a 57-0 vote. The bill will now go before the House of Representatives.

  • Cunningham passes measure to reduce air and noise pollution

    semi idling 041019SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed a bill sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham Wednesday that would prohibit diesel trucks from idling excessively in residential areas.

    Senate Bill 1256 would prevent diesel trucks over 8,000 pounds from idling for more than a total of ten minutes in an hour if the vehicle is within 200 feet of a residential area in Cook County.

    Cunningham credited Cook County residents living near a trucking yard for bringing the issue to his attention. The residents identified persistent noise and air quality issues with the trucking yard, located near the corner 119th St. and Central Park Ave. in Merrionette Park, that needed to be addressed. 

    “Residents of my district are sick and tired of the noise and pollution coming from trucking lots located near residential areas,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This is a straightforward measure that will make a positive difference in the lives of many Cook County residents.”

    The measure passed with no opposition. It will now go before the House of Representatives.

  • Cunningham named Legislator of the Year by Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois

    IFFA AwardSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham was named Legislator of the Year by the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (IFFA) on Wednesday for his advocacy on behalf of firefighters and other first responders in the Illinois State Senate.

    “I’m honored to be chosen for this award I want to thank the IFFA for its continued advocacy on behalf of Illinois firefighters,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “I look forward to continuing to work with the IFFA and first responders throughout the state to promote the interests of Illinois firefighters.”

    Cunningham has worked on behalf of first responders in Springfield since he first joined the General Assembly in 2011. Last session, he introduced legislation to protect Chicago firefighters’ pensions by allowing them to transfer credit from their previous service to their current pensions.

    “Illinois’ firefighters are heroes who put their own lives on the line on a daily basis to keep us safe,” Cunningham said. “State government needs to look out for these brave men and women the way they look out for us.”