Cunningham

  • Cunningham: Time to provide necessary resources to handle mental health issues

    DefendantSPRINGFIELD – Custody of defendants with mental health issues could become more streamlined and appropriate due to legislation that passed the Illinois Senate on Monday.

    “We need to provide the necessary resources to ensure the mental health of those determined to be unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity be dealt with appropriately,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago). “It will only help to keep our communities safer in the long run.”

    The legislation, House Bill 649, would create a formal process for the county sheriff and the Department of Human Services to handle custody of defendants found unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. It provides requirements regarding the evaluation and transportation of the defendant to a secure facility.

    The legislation now moves to the governor’s desk for approval.

  • Cunningham fights to increase local access to Chicago Ag School

    cunningham 050217SPRINGFIELD – Families in Mount Greenwood, Beverly and Morgan Park could soon see increased enrollment opportunities to the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHAS) because of legislation passed by the Illinois Senate on Wednesday.

    Senate Bill 447, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), would allow for 40 more seats to be opened up to local families and would statutorily authorize the special education cluster that currently exists at the school

    “The Ag School is a top-tier school, and anytime it is possible we should be increasing access to schools like these,” Cunningham said. “By doing this we allow more families to have an opportunity to keep their kids closer to home.”

    CHAS was created by state law more than 20 years ago. Though the school has provided special education services for years, those programs were not recognized by state law until the introduction of Senate Bill 447.

    “Special education services should be guaranteed at schools, like the Ag School, that offer students unique education experiences,” Cunningham said. “This measure helps accomplish that and provides some stability for families in our community.”

    The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration.

  • Measure to allow college savings accounts to purchase computers passes

    cunningham 031517SPRINGFIELD – College students needing to buy a new computer for school use or who utilize special needs services could soon be able to use their Illinois’ College Savings Plan to do so due to a measure passed by the Illinois Senate on Thursday.

    “Today, computers are just as necessary as textbooks,” Cunningham said. “If you don’t have easy access to a computer your chances of succeeding plummet.”

    Senate Bill 1758 would add computers and other technology based expenses to the definition of qualified expenses for the purposes of one’s Illinois’ College Savings Plan. Expenses from special needs services connected with enrollment or attendance would also be defined as qualified expenses.

    “The state restricting a student with special needs from using their college savings accounts to pay for required expenses related to successfully attend college is ridiculous,” Cunningham said. “By passing this legislation, we can put every student closer to succeeding in their post-secondary goals.”

    The measure passed the full Senate unanimously. It moves to the House for further consideration.

  • Cunningham: Governor’s inaction equals an attack on teachers

    Sen. Bill CunninghamSPRINGFIELD – Chicago teachers and retirees could see their livelihoods be slashed due to inaction from the governor’s office.

    “Chicago teachers and retirees are on the front lines every day trying to educate our next generation as best they can with what little resources they have,” Senator Bill Cunningham said. “The state should be doing more to support all teachers including those in Chicago.”

    Legislation has been passed multiple times to ensure that Chicago teachers would receive the proper pension that they were promised when they took the job. But each time, the governor has continued to attack their ability to do their job.

  • Cunningham joins U of I and pushes for higher education accountability

    cunningham 022817SPRINGFIELD – On Thursday, Senator Bill Cunningham and officials from the University of Illinois announced a new financial aid program that will be a part of the larger University of Illinois “Investment, Performance, and Accountability Commitment.” The goal of the commitment is to set a tuition cap and increase access to the University of Illinois for Illinois students.

    “This new program continues to drive home the fact that universities like the U of I system should be finding ways to bring real results for Illinois taxpayers,” Cunningham said. “This legislation is a step in the right direction to ensure taxpayer money being spent is doing what it is supposed to be doing, helping Illinois.”

    The legislation, Senate Bill 222, would guarantee a minimum level of funding for the University of Illinois system in return for the system meeting certain benchmarks including a tuition cap and increased access for Illinois students. The forthcoming amendment looks to help U of I achieve the goals set. If the university system were to fail their expectations the state could withhold a portion of the guaranteed funding.

    “This legislation could be a template for other universities throughout the state,” Cunningham said. “It provides stability in university planning and gives the Illinois taxpayers tangible results on how that money is being spent.”

    Senate Bill 222 is currently under consideration by the Senate’s Higher Education committee.

  • Cunningham pushes measure to expand uses of College Savings Plan

    cunningham 031517SPRINGFIELD – College students needing to buy a new computer for school use or who utilize special needs services could soon be able use their Illinois’ College Savings Plan to do so due to a measure being pushed by State Senator Bill Cunningham and State Treasurer Michael Frerichs.

    “In today’s society every college student needs a computer to even think about succeeding in college,” Cunningham said. “It is just as necessary as textbooks.”

    The measure, Senate Bill 1758, would add computers and other technology based expenses to the definition of qualified expenses for the purposes of one’s Illinois’ College Savings Plan. Expenses from special needs services connected with enrollment or attendance would also be defined as qualified expenses.

    “It is unfair for a college or university to put extra cost requirements on a student with special needs to successfully attend and then the state rejects the student’s ability to use their Bright Start Account to pay for those required expenses,” Cunningham said.

    The measure was passed out of the Senate’s State Government committee on Wednesday and moves to the full Senate for final passage.

  • Services for developmentally disabled threatened by budget impasse

    devel dis 030717Stories pop up every day all across Illinois about the effects of the budget impasse. Those stories range from facility closures to students who may be on the hook for thousands of dollars for their education. One story in the 18th District shows that the developmentally disabled are especially at risk during the budget impasse.

    “Sertoma Centre is just one example of the crisis that the state is facing,” Senator Bill Cunningham said. “We need real governing to ensure that we can end this fiscal crisis that is doing real harm to our community.”

  • Cunningham advocates for MAP Grants, social services in budget agreement

    cunningham 022817SPRINGFIELD – On Tuesday, the Illinois Senate pushed through legislation that would finish funding state services through the end of the current fiscal year. The legislative package included legislation that would send promised MAP grant money to students for the current fiscal year.

    “The state of Illinois committed to assisting students in bettering themselves by attending a university or community colleges,” Cunningham said. “We need to send the money we promised these students so that they aren’t left hanging with the bill.”

    The legislation also would fund critical human service programs who saw what little funding was available from the stopgap proposal end on December 31.

    “Groups like Sertoma, Park Lawn and Sandbox Learning Center have gone for far too long with no certainty that funding is coming,” Cunningham said. “Today, we were able to give them some hope by starting to pass this compromise.”

  • Cunningham, Hastings, Burke to scale Hancock Building stairs to fight lung cancer

    hustlehancockCHICAGO – The story of a young Ian Piet and his family recently has caused two Illinois legislators to join his fight against lung cancer. State Senator Bill Cunningham and Representative Kelly Burke have signed up to Hustle Up the Hancock on February 26, 2017.

    “I met Ian at the State Capitol and listened to his story about how his dad struggled with lung cancer,” Cunningham said. “When he asked if I could join his team to find a cure for respiratory diseases like lung cancer I was ready.”

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  • Cunningham votes to provide pension parity to Chicago public safety workers

    cunningham fitness ctrSPRINGFIELD—State Senator Bill Cunningham on Tuesday voted to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 440.

    The legislation will bring pension parity to retiring Chicago police officers and fire fighters born after 1955. It would also ensure that a widower’s benefit would never decrease below 125 percent of the federal poverty level.

    “All public safety workers put themselves in the line of duty to protect and serve our communities,” Cunningham said. “After protecting our communities for their whole careers, they should be able to retire knowing that they will be able to provide for their families.”

    The legislation now moves to the House for an override vote.

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

  • Cunningham works with U of I on new funding plan

    cunningham hiedcompCHICAGO— State Senator Bill Cunningham joined the University of Illinois in announcing a new performance and accountability initiative that will ensure full funding for the university and help hold the line on tuition increases. 

    The plan would provide the university with stable funding and some regulatory relief in exchange for meeting specific standards on student access and achievement. Some examples of standards include in-state enrollment requirements and benchmarks on graduation rates, financial aid and tuition.

    “This proposal would provide U of I with stable funding from the legislature, but it would require them to reach a number of goals to keep the funds flowing," Cunningham said. “We need real results from our universities to ensure that state resources are being properly used.”

    The plan was announced at the University of Illinois’ Board of Trustees meeting in Chicago on Thursday. Cunningham will serve as the chief senate sponsor on the initiative.

    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. 

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  • Cunningham measure to protect tax payers and tuition payers becomes law

    cunningham hiedcompSPRINGFIELD—Higher education administrators will no longer be able to claim country club memberships as a part of their pensionable income thanks to a proposal pushed by Senator Bill Cunningham becoming law today.

    Senate Bill 2156 was one several new laws authored by Cunningham this year aimed at limiting perks for public college and university presidents in Illinois. The legislation was sparked by a scandal at the College of DuPage, where the president received a $750,000 severance package just to leave the college.

  • Cunningham measure to educate about the signs of domestic violence becomes law

    cunningham dom viol 081716CHICAGO—Hair dressers and nail technicians throughout Illinois will now be trained to detect signs of domestic violence or sexual assault and help the victims thanks to legislation sponsored by Senator Bill Cunningham that was signed into law on Friday.

    "My wife used to work as a hair dresser and she frequently heard stories from her clients who were victims of domestic violence," Cunningham said. "Unfortunately, she didn't have the knowledge or resources needed to help them. This new law will ensure that hair dressers will be trained to assist their clients who reach out to them for help."

    House Bill 4264 would require that cosmetologists, estheticians, nail technicians and hair braiders take a one-hour continuing education class about domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. The class would also provide them with resources to give to their clients.

    “I was proud to stand with activists like Chicago Says No More to say enough is enough,” Cunningham said. “Illinois took a proactive step in ensuring that domestic violence and sexual assault is not tolerated in this state.”

    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: Illinois continues to lead in agriculture education

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  • Cunningham closes loophole in gun law to protect domestic violence victims

    cunninghamSPRINGFIELD—Local law enforcement will work to keep guns out of the hands of people who have orders of protection against them thanks to a new Illinois law.

    House Bill 6331, sponsored by Senator Bill Cunningham, will require the state police to notify local police agencies to assist in seizing a Firearm Owners Identification Card when that person’s card has been revoked by a judge in an order of protection case. 

    “If law enforcement is going to successfully protect victims of domestic violence, all police agencies must have the information they need to enforce court orders," Cunningham said. "As the law stands today, the state police must shoulder the entire burden on their own. That's not fair to the state police or to the victims of domestic violence."

    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 measure to expand, extend Rocket Docket becomes law

    cunninghamSPRINGFIELD—Senator Bill Cunningham during the spring legislative session pushed to expand and extend the successful accelerated resolution court, also known as Rocket Docket, in Cook County.

    The legislation, signed into law today, would add minor traffic and drug offenses to the program and extends the program’s sunset date to 2019. The Rocket Docket program expedites the adjudication of minor offenses by requiring they be tried with 30 days.

    “This program has been a success since day one in controlling overcrowding of Cook County Jail,” Cunningham said. “It also has been a success in lowering the financial burden on taxpayers who fund the jail.”

    Currently, the Cook County Sheriff refers defendants to the program and the Cook County State’s Attorney approves those referrals. For any defendant to be eligible they are not allowed to have any prior convictions for violent offenses within the past 10 years and must be unable to post bond.

    “It only made sense to keep a successful program running,” Cunningham said.

    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 higher education reform package becomes law

    cunningham ag edSPRINGFIELD – After learning about an outlandish severance package given to an outgoing community college president by a lame duck board of trustees, Senate Bill Cunningham knew something had to change.

    Cunningham proposed a package of reforms that was signed into law today, making the hiring and firing process of college administrators more transparent and fair to both taxpayers and students.

    The package includes a proposal that would require community college boards and university boards partake in a minimum of four hours of professional development training that ranges from labor laws to ethics training.

    “We need to protect taxpayers and tuition payers,” Cunningham said. “Tuition is on the rise in part because of abuse in the hiring and firing of chief administrators of our state universities and community colleges.”

    Another proposal in the package would ban a lame duck community college board from approving a new contract with less than 45 days left before the next election.

    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.