Cunningham

  • Cunningham passes bill to improve medical response time for overdoses

    opioids 030719SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham to combat opioid overdoses by improving emergency response time passed the State Senate in a bipartisan vote Wednesday.

    “We’re facing a crisis when it comes to overdoses in our state and we need to empower our first responders to act quickly,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “It’s time for lawmakers to get aggressive in the fight against opioid abuse.”

    Senate Bill 1258 would require emergency medical technicians in Chicago to report treatment of an individual experiencing a suspected or actual opioid overdose to the city for use in the Overdose Detection Mapping Application (ODMAP), developed by the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

    The ODMAP provides real-time overdose data throughout an area to mobilize an immediate response to an overdose spike. Each suspected overdose is plotted to a map that allows local officials to identify trends and develop strategies to more effectively respond to overdoses.

    “This program will be an effective tool as we try to prevent overdose deaths,” Cunningham said. “I encourage my colleagues in the House to pass this measure quickly to provide desperately needed help for the people of Chicago.”

    Senate Bill 1258 passed 54-0. It will now go before the House of Representatives.

  • Cunningham introduces bill to prohibit excessive idling

    cunningham 030719SPRINGFIELD –State Senator Bill Cunningham has introduced a bill this legislative session that would seek to solve residential noise and air quality issues by prohibiting diesel trucks from idling excessively in residential areas.

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

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

    “Illinois residents should not have to deal with excessive noise and poor air quality at their own homes,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This bill is intended to finally bring some peace and quiet to families that live near these commercial trucking yards.”

    Senate Bill 1256 is currently in the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee.

  • Cunningham's bill to combat opiod overdoses clears committee

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    SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham to combat opioid overdoses by improving emergency response time cleared the Senate Public Health Committee in a bipartisan manner Tuesday.

    “The prevalence of opioid addiction and overdose in our country is a crisis and we need to find immediate solutions to prevent opioid-related deaths,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “Our first responders are heroes in this fight and we need to ensure they have every tool available to respond quickly and effectively to suspected overdoses.”

  • Southwest suburban homeowners to see millions in property tax relief

    cunningham 022817SPRINGFIELD – Home owners and small businesses in Chicago’s southwest suburbs will see a decrease in their property tax bills thanks to a new state grant program aimed at providing relief to school districts in high-taxed areas. 

    The Property Tax Relief Grant was a part of a historic school funding reform law that brought millions of dollars to school districts in dire need of funding.

    “Our communities should not be forced to choose between providing a high quality education for students and keeping property tax rates manageable for homeowners and businesses,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “These grants will ensure that our students have access to a great education without paying for it at the expense of local taxpayers.”

    Several school districts in the 18th Senate District will be eligible for the tax relief grant, including: 

    • Evergreen Park Community High School District 231: $965,999.66
    • Community High School District 218: $5,788,140.28
    • Oak Lawn Community High School District 229: $2,125,024.36

    In order to receive the state grant, eligible school districts must submit an abatement resolution to their county clerks by March 30. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will then distribute the grants once receiving all abatement certificates.

    More information on the Property Tax Relief Grant and a listing of each eligible school district can be found at www.ISBE.net/proptaxrelief.

  • Cunningham measure clears the way for Chicago Ridge redevelopment

    cunningham 022817SPRINGFIELD – An initiative that will help spur redevelopment of a key piece of industrial property in Chicago Ridge will become law after state legislators voted this week to override the governor’s veto of the plan.

    The measure, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, prohibits land owners from disconnecting their property from a municipality if the land is contained within a tax increment financing district.

    The current owner of the long-abandoned Yellow Freight trucking yard on Harlem Avenue wants to disconnect from the city’s TIF district, but a developer looking to rehabilitate the 90-acre property wants to utilize the benefits of the TIF district.

    “This bill will stop the current owner of the property from scuttling the Chicago Ridge economic redevelopment plan for the property and the entire Harlem Avenue corridor,” Cunningham said.

    Democrats and Republicans in the Senate voted Wednesday to override the governor’s veto. The House voted to override the veto on Nov. 14.

  • Cunningham votes to override Rauner’s veto of Tobacco 21

    cunningham 052418SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham voted Wednesday to override the governor’s veto of legislation that would increase the age to legally purchase tobacco products in Illinois to 21.

    “Big tobacco has a long track record of targeting young people to sell their products,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This legislation demonstrates our commitment to improving the health of Illinois teenagers by limiting their access to tobacco and preventing lifelong addiction from developing.”

    The bill would make Illinois the sixth state in the country to raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21. More than 300 municipalities across the United States have adopted Tobacco 21, including 24 communities in Illinois.

    Raising the tobacco purchasing age has been proven to reduce the number of high school students who use tobacco products. In Chicago, where Tobacco 21 is currently in effect, the high school smoking rate dropped from 13.6 percent in 2011 to 6 percent in 2017.

    The Senate voted 36 to 19 to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2332.

  • Senate President disappointed by Supreme Court redefining ‘collective’ bargaining

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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.

  • Cunningham measure to give local school boards final say on charter schools passes Senate

    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.

  • Senate approves Cunningham’s plan to strengthen state college investments, apply funds to students with disabilities

    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 advances measure to give local school boards final say on charter schools

    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.

  • Vaccine bill designed to fight the flu epidemic passes General Assembly

    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.

  • Senators honor fallen firefighters at annual memorial service (VIDEO)

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  • Fallen officers honored at annual Police Memorial (VIDEO)

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  • Cunningham passes measure to designed to curb carjackers

    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.

  • Senate approves Cunningham’s plan to end Chicago police quotas

    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 moves to crack down on public indecency in Cook County Jail

    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.