red tieSPRINGFIELD – A requirement forcing Cook County seniors to reapply annually for a tax break will soon be eliminated under a measure co-sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham.

House Bill 961, passed by the Illinois Senate Wednesday, would eliminate the need for residents of Cook County residents aged 65 or older to reapply annually to receive the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption, a property tax exemption designed to assist senior citizens financially.

Seniors would be required to reapply once more for the exemption in 2020, and would then be grandfathered into the program through 2024. Similar legislation, House Bill 833, was signed into law this summer, but required seniors to reapply in both 2020 and 2021.

“Seniors shouldn’t be forced reapply for the Homestead Exemption an extra time. It’s just common sense,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “You only turn 65 once, and there’s no reason to put seniors through a confusing reapplication process for this exemption when they’ve already proved that they qualify for it.”

Currently, every county in Illinois other than Cook may allow seniors to receive the exemption without reapplying.

The measure also requires Cook County agencies to record events that would end the exemption, such as property transfers, to ensure that ineligible property owners do not accidentally take advantage of the tax break.

House Bill 961 passed the Senate without opposition. It will now head to the governor’s desk.

Category: Press Releases

Metra presserSPRINGFIELD – At a news conference Wednesday, State Senator Bill Cunningham announced the introduction of new legislation aimed at reducing costs and increasing access to public transportation for residents on Chicago’s south side and southwest suburbs.

“Residents on the south and southwest sides, as well as in the suburbs, are underserved when it comes to cheap, reliable methods of public transportation,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “We need to ensure everyone has affordable access to public transit and this legislation will provide another option to these communities.”

Senate Bill 2277 would require Metra, Pace, and the CTA to do the following:

  • Reduce fares on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines to CTA levels at in-city stations
  • Decrease zone-based fares in the south suburbs on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines
  • Adopt the Ventra card to pay for fares on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines
  • Offer low-cost transfers between the Metra Electric, Rock Island, CTA, and Pace

Cunningham was joined at the news conference by transit equity advocates from the Coalition for a Modern Metra Electric and State Representative Marcus Evans Jr. (D-Chicago), who has introduced similar legislation, House Bill 3834, in the House.

A coalition of community-based organizations, religious groups, chambers of commerce and civic organizations have also signed on in support of the demonstration project.

“I welcome the bill being sponsored by Senator Cunningham. Residents of the south side of Chicago, and the south and southwest suburbs need faster, lower cost access to public transportation to get to work, to school, and to improve the quality of life for people who rely on public transportation,” said Linda Thisted, co-chair of the Coalition for a Modern Metra Electric. “This bill addresses long-standing transit inequities in our communities”

The measure will be considered by the Illinois Senate in the spring.

Category: Press Releases

01312018CM1098SPRINGFIELD – A bipartisan measure aimed at reducing skyrocketing prescription insulin costs passed the Illinois Senate Tuesday with support from State Senator Bill Cunningham.

“For years, the pharmaceutical industry was virtually unchecked in their efforts to increase profit margins on this drug, and, as a result, working families have struggled to pay for the supply they need,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “Legislators need to put people over the profit of corporations, and this legislation allows us to do just that.”

Senate Bill 667 would cap out of pocket insulin expenses at $100 for a 30-day supply and direct the Illinois attorney general to investigate reasons for the increasing costs associated with the medication.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are more than 30 million Americans with diabetes, 7.4 million of which require prescription insulin every day to survive. However, the increasing costs associated with the medication have led many patients to ration their supply or seek care outside of the country.

“Drug companies are holding diabetics hostage by charging exorbitant rates for a medication they simply can’t live without,” Cunningham said.  “No person should be forced to choose between purchasing the insulin they need, and buying groceries or paying their rent. By passing this legislation, we’re taking a step toward ensuring that they won’t have to make that choice in Illinois.”

The legislation would make Illinois just the second state in the nation to cap out of pocket insulin costs for diabetics. Colorado became the first earlier this year.

The measure passed the Senate 48-7. It will now move to the Illinois House of Representatives for further debate.

Category: Press Releases

Cunningham FloorSPRINGFIELD – Chicago police officers would face fewer barriers to accessing certain benefits under legislation sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham that was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker today.

Under current law, the board of trustees for the PABF can issue a denial of the continuance of a duty or occupational disability benefit for a member. Members can appeal the denial, but the cost of litigating the appeal can be a heavy burden.

House Bill 2470 would require the Policeman’s Annuity Benefit Fund of Chicago (PABF) to pay court costs, litigation expenses and reasonable attorney fees for members who were unfairly denied duty or occupational disability benefits.

“Officers earn these benefits over the course of years of putting themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “We need to ensure that they are properly rewarded for their service.”

The PABF may still strip an officer of benefits if an officer intentionally and unjustifiably delays proceedings and is ultimately convicted of a felony related to his or her service.

House Bill 2470 will go into effect January 1, 2020.

Category: Press Releases

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