SPRINGFIELD –It’s no secret Illinois faces a looming budget crisis. State Sen. Bill Cunningham is deeply concerned about the effects massive budget cuts could have on Illinois residents’ safety.

“As the former Chief of Staff for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, I know firsthand the importance of fully funding our criminal justice system. The proposed $78 million cut from the Illinois State Police budget would be absolutely devastating to the safety of Illinois residents,” Cunningham said.

Under the proposed cuts, the Illinois State Police would be forced to lay off 450 troopers and close all forensic labs in the state.

“Illinois State Police troopers patrol our highways daily protecting our families. Forensic labs perform vital tests on evidence, like rape kits, allowing law enforcement to prosecute potentially violent criminals. If the ISP is forced to drastically cut its budget, our entire criminal justice system will be in disarray. Cutting services and allowing criminals to run loose is no way to govern.”

Category: Press Releases

ilstatelibraryThree libraries and two schools in State Senator Bill Cunningham’s district have been awarded grants from the Illinois State Library to buy fiction and nonfiction books.

“This extra money to buy books and other educational materials will greatly benefit members of our community and provide resources the libraries otherwise wouldn’t have,” Cunningham said.

The “Back to Books” program is an initiative from Secretary of State Jessie White’s office funded by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and the state’s library funds.

The eligible materials include: books, large print books, audio books, graphic novels and educational CDs or DVDs. One hundred percent of the grant funds must be spent on materials. 

The list of 18th District libraries and schools that received grants includes:

Chicago Ridge               Chicago Ridge Public Library           $5,000.00
Oak Lawn                     Community High School #218          $5,000.00
Evergreen Park             Evergreen Park Public Library           $5,000.00
Chicago                         Marist High School                         $4992.00
Oak Lawn                     Oak Lawn Public Library                  $5,000.00
Orland Park                  Orland Park Public Library                $3,373.00

Category: Press Releases

Cunningham-cmteSPRINGFIELD – In an effort to promote school safety, State Senator Bill Cunningham is sponsoring legislation to require all non-public schools to annually meet with local police and fire departments to update their safety plans.

“Children in private schools need to be just as safe as those in public schools. Even in the safest neighborhoods, crisis scenarios can happen. This is not just about planning for a school shooter, but also for fires, tornados and other natural disasters,” Cunningham said.

In 2005, the School Safety Drill Act established minimum safety plan requirements for all public schools in Illinois. This legislation would extend the same requirements to all non-public schools.

Senate Bill 2710, which passed out of the Senate Education Committee February 18 with a 14-0 vote, will now be heard by the full Senate.

Category: Press Releases

cunningham-911State Senator Bill Cunningham is proposing legislation aimed at protecting the privacy of ordinary citizens who call 911 in emergency situations. Under current state law emergency phone calls are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, which can results in audio recordings of the calls being broadcast on television, radio and the Internet without the consent of the caller. Cunningham wants to change that. 

 Freedom of Information laws are primarily intended to prevent government secrecy, not violate personal privacy. Unfortunately, we've seen that sense of privacy violated repeatedly over the years, often during tragic episodes in the 911 caller's life," Cunningham said.

Cunningham pointed to the recent airing of the 911 phone calls made during the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown, Conn. Local officials initially refused media requests to release the recordings, citing the privacy rights of the victims and callers.  But a judge ruled the recordings were considered public records under the state's Freedom of Information Act and ordered the tapes released. 

 “The thousands of media outlets that aired those recordings weren't acting as government watchdogs trying to shed light on the conduct of law enforcement," Cunningham said. "They were simply looking to create shocking program content in order to boost ratings and drive visits to their websites."

 Before being elected to the General Assembly, Cunningham spent 16 years as the press secretary for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. In that capacity, he was forced to balance the public's right to access information with the privacy rights of average citizens who performed their civic duty and called the authorities for help in emergency situations.  

"Freedom of Information laws need to strike a balance. Consideration of the victim's rights and the privacy of the individuals making the 911 calls have to be part of the equation," Cunningham said. "Right now, they are not.”

 Senate Bill 3072 is currently in the Senate Assignments Committee. If passed, Illinois will join more than a dozen other states in restricting some level of access to 911 calls.

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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Chicago, IL 60643
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