05072019CM0355SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham’s legislation to deter threats from being made against schools on social media was signed into law by Gov. Pritzker today.

“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.

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 State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Evergreen Park) and 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. “This trend is only going to continue and we need to make sure we update our statute to keep it aligned with 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.

“Threats to schools are usually linked with mental health issues that need to be addressed for the benefit of both the individual who made the threat and those around them,” Cunningham said. “Allowing for mental health evaluations in these circumstances will allow law enforcement and medical professionals to work together to best resolve these cases.”

The measure will go into effect January 1, 2020.

Category: Press Releases

08152019CM0240SPRINGFIELD – The governor has signed into law two measures sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham that would help prevent suicide and promote mental wellness among first responders.

 “Suicide and mental health are among the biggest issues facing first responders today,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “These pieces of legislation are major steps in combating these problems and showing first responders that help is available and it’s okay to ask for it.”

House Bill 2766, which Cunningham cosponsored, creates the First Responders Suicide Prevention Act. The act includes provisions to implement training for individuals tasked with providing peer support counseling to colleagues, requires police and fire departments to develop disciplinary measures for those who violate confidentiality agreements and creates a civil cause of action for employees whose employment status is adversely affected by information obtained during a counseling session.

“Peer support counseling is a critical tool in the fight against first responder suicide and I’m proud to support measures that ensure it remains a viable and confidential option for those who need it,” said Cunningham. “No one understands the issues these men and women face more than their peers and by fostering the development of peer counseling programs, we’re taking steps to save lives.”

House Bill 2767, on which Cunningham was the primary sponsor, requires the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to develop a course addressing the issues of officer wellness and suicide prevention. The course will be included in the training requirements police officers must complete before graduating the police academy and would also need to be completed every three years after graduation.

The training will be required to include recognizing signs of work-related cumulative stress, issues that may lead to suicide and solutions for intervention with peer support resources.  

“By educating officers, we’re hoping to eliminate the stigma that mental health challenges are a sign of weakness and somehow disqualify officers from being able to do their jobs properly,” Cunningham said.

House Bill 2766 will take effect immediately. House Bill 2767 will take effect January 1, 2020.

Category: Press Releases

Cunningham FloorSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham’s legislation that would prohibit diesel trucks from idling excessively in residential areas was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker last week.

Senate Bill 1256 will 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. 

“People in my district are tired of dealing with endless noise and air pollution in their neighborhoods,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This legislation is a direct response to their concerns and I’m proud to have brought some relief on this issue to my constituents.”

The measure will take effect January 1, 2020.

Category: Press Releases

Cunningham 2017 PresserCHICAGO RIDGE – The Chicago Ridge Public Library is the recipient of a $7,642 mentoring grant from the Illinois secretary of state, State Senator Bill Cunningham announced.

The grant was awarded through the FY20 Project Next Generation program, which is a mentoring program administered through Illinois public libraries. Mentors work with middle and high school students to help them develop skills needed to use technology and find success through project-based learning. Mentors also help with developing life skills, such as effective communication, goal setting and conflict resolution.

Chicago Ridge is one of 29 public libraries in the state to receive the grant.

“This program provides students with the tools that they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “Mentorship can make an incredible differences in the lives of young people and I want to thank Jesse White for his commitment to serving at-risk students in the south suburbs.”

In all, the secretary of state awarded more than $464,000 in Project Next Generation grants statewide. The money is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Grants are awarded to public libraries that serve culturally diverse, low-income and underserved populations.

“I am committed to improving the lives of at-risk youth in Illinois,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “I established this innovative program when I first became secretary of state to give students an opportunity to receive hands-on experience with the latest technological tools at their local library.”

For more information, visit https://ilsendems.co/2GtOQzP.

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
Senator 18th District
307 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5145
(217) 782-2115 FAX
 
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