UPDATE 8.22.13: Cunningham’s legislation targeting "gang funerals" signed into law

CHICAGO – Thanks to a new law sponsored by Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), Chicago streets will now be a little safer. It will allow police to impound the cars of drivers who dangerously swerve in and out of traffic waving firearms and flashing gang signs during so-called “gang funerals.”

"Gang funerals create major safety concerns for area residents and all of Chicago area.” Cunningham said. “We must give our police the tools they need to keep our streets safe.” 

In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel began pushing for a stronger law enforcement presence at funerals of gang members. In the past, these funerals have ended with offenders throwing loaded weapons out of cars, dangerous high-speed car chases, and even shots fired. Senate Bill 2154 will continue to crackdown on the gang members that choose to abuse these funerals. 

This legislation was a joint effort with Alderman Matthew O’Shea. Cunningham and O’Shea met with area residents whose neighborhoods have been plagued by gang funerals for years. O’Shea, who represents Chicago’s 19th Ward, testified on behalf of the legislation before the General Assembly.

 

 

UPDATE 4.18.13: SB2154 was approved by the Senate on April 17 and now awaits action in the House. Senator Cunningham recorded this video to further explain the need for and intent of this measure.

 

 

4-11-13  -  In an effort to punish motorists who drive recklessly in so-called "gang funerals," State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) won the approval of a senate panel Wednesday for Senate Bill 2154. The legislation would allow police to impound the cars of drivers who swerve in and out of traffic or allow passengers to hang out of the windows and doors of their vehicle during funeral processions.

"Reckless driving during funeral processions of known gang members is a growing problem on the South Side of Chicago and in the Southwest Suburbs," Cunningham said. "Too many times the streets of my district have been endangered by funeral processions in which gang members recklessly swerve their cars into oncoming traffic while passengers hang out of car windows and flash gang signs at pedestrians. This behavior not only creates a threat to public safety, it is highly disrespectful to the families of the deceased."

Senate Bill 2154 authorizes municipalities to impound vehicles used in reckless driving offenses if the car is part of a funeral or if the vehicle interferes with a funeral procession. Cunningham presented the bill to the Senate Transportation Committee and was joined by Alderman Matthew O'Shea of Chicago's 19th Ward, who testified in favor of the bill. O'Shea told the committee that the legislation was developed after a series of meetings with residents and police officers in his community, which has been plagued by gang funerals in recent years. 

SB 2154 now awaits a vote by the full Senate. 

Category: Press Releases

As a member of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon’s Firearms Working Group, State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) met with other freshman legislators to come up with a checklist of principles that must be included in any law authorizing people to carry concealed weapons. 

The group of legislators tried to balance the constitutionality of the right to bear arms with the need to prevent violence.

Illinois has until June to pass a concealed carry law because the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Illinois’ law banning concealed carry is unconstitutional. 

The 10 points on the checklist include:

  1. Constitutionality: law must uphold the right to keep and bear arms as referred to in the U.S. Constitution
  2. Basic Qualifications: permits issued only to adult residents of Illinois who own a valid (Firearms Owner Identification Cards) FOID card and do not pose a danger to themselves or others
  3. Funding: create a fund for user fees to finance the concealed carry permit application and renewal process
  4. Permitting Authority: Illinois State Police should be the permitting authority for concealed carry
  5. Local Input: sheriffs and local law enforcement should be allowed to tell the Illinois State Police if a person poses a safety risk
  6. Background Checks: comprehensive criminal background checks should be conducted
  7. Firearm Training: applicants should be required to complete firearm safety and live fire training
  8. Permits: lost, stolen or destroyed concealed carry permits should be reported in a timely manner
  9. Sensitive Places: concealed carry should be prohibited in certain public places, such as schools
  10. Violations: an applicant who violates the concealed carry law or makes false statements should be subject to criminal penalties

 “I am glad to be a member of a group that is making a real effort to pass reasonable gun legislation,” Cunningham said.

Category: Press Releases

cunningham-031313An effort to expand and preserve open lands in suburban Cook County was approved by the Illinois State Senate, thanks to a bill sponsored by newly elected Senator Bill Cunningham (D - 18th Dist.) Senate Bill 1499 gives the Cook County Forest Preserve District the power to acquire land by easement, which will enable the district to enter into voluntary agreements with businesses, utilities and local governments to acquire patches of open land and incorporate them into the Forest Preserve green belt.

Under current law, every other forest preserve district in the state of Illinois can acquire land by easement. But Cook County has to purchase any land it acquires, which creates high costs for tax payers and limits the expansion of the Cook County Forest Preserve. If Cunningham's bill becomes law, the county will be able to expand its Forest Preserve for virtually no costs through the easement process. 
 
“Cook County is one of the most urbanized counties in the nation. With this legislation, there will be a stronger effort to create and preserve open space,” said Cunningham. "Protecting and expanding Forest Preserves and park land will always be among my top priorities in the General Assembly."

Cunningham's senate district stretches across the Southwest suburbs and Southwest side of Chicago and includes some of Cook County's largest tracks of Forest Preserve in Palos and Orland Township.

Category: Press Releases

In an effort to ensure students spend more time learning and less time taking tests, State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) is sponsoring legislation to cap the number of standardized tests Chicago Public Schools administer each school year. 

Senate Bill 2156 limits schools to four standardized tests per year. Cunningham filed the legislation after hearing from teachers and parents in his district who feel too much of the school day is being spent preparing for and taking standardized tests. Cunningham is a Chicago Public School parent and a former member of the Local School Council for Sutherland School in Beverly.  

"There is too much emphasis on standardized tests scores that do not always adequately reflect the learning abilities and achievements of students." Cunningham said. "What's more, testing is very costly to schools.  That money could be better spent elsewhere.”

Currently, Chicago Public Schools’ calendar includes two full weeks of testing and 10 full school days of preparation.   

“Standardized testing has an important role to play in the education process, but testing students more than four times a year becomes too disruptive to the regular curriculum,” said Cunningham. 

Other states are taking action to lessen high stakes testing. For example, the Texas House of Representatives “zeroed-out” standardized test funding in its budget recommendations.

Category: Press Releases

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