SPRINGFIELD – The Senate State Government Committee passed a bill sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham Wednesday04102019CM0749 that would ease the financial burden on Chicago police officers who litigate to receive certain benefits.

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.

“Chicago police officers work hard to earn their benefits and they should not have to risk financial ruin to access them,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “These men and women spend their careers protecting us and we need to do the same for them.”

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 passed the State Government Committee on a bipartisan 7-2 vote. It will now go before the entire Senate.

Category: Press Releases

05072019CM0361SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham that seeks deter threats from being made against schools on social media was approved by the Senate Criminal Law Committee Tuesday.

“False threats against our schools not only cause a panic, but also trigger costly emergency responses that divert first responders’ attention away from situations where they’re really needed,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “School safety is a serious issue and we need to do all we can to deter false 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 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. “We’re in the social media age right now and this trend is only going to continue. We need to update our laws to reflect 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.

“Police and health care providers need to work together to determine whether or not a threat is legitimate,” Cunningham said. “We need to use every tool available to make sure our students aren’t at risk.”

The measure will now go before the entire Senate.

Category: Press Releases

IFFA AWARDSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham was named Legislator of the Year by the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (IFFA) on Wednesday for his advocacy on behalf of firefighters and other first responders in the Illinois State Senate.

“I’m honored to be chosen for this award I want to thank the IFFA for its continued advocacy on behalf of Illinois firefighters,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “I look forward to continuing to work with the IFFA and first responders throughout the state to promote the interests of Illinois firefighters.”

Cunningham has worked on behalf of first responders in Springfield since he first joined the General Assembly in 2011. Last session, he introduced legislation to protect Chicago firefighters’ pensions by allowing them to transfer credit from their previous service to their current pensions.

“Illinois’ firefighters are heroes who put their own lives on the line on a daily basis to keep us safe,” Cunningham said. “State government needs to look out for these brave men and women the way they look out for us.”

Category: Press Releases

04032019CM0418SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham voted Wednesday for a tax reform package that – if passed by voters – would implement a fair tax system in Illinois and provide tax relief to 98 percent of 18th District taxpayers.

The fair tax overhaul would also provide property tax relief to homeowners and lower the income tax rate for middle and working-class taxpayers while asking the wealthy to pay their fair share.

“It’s long past time for the wealthiest people in Illinois to pay their fair share to provide fiscal stability for our state,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “We’ve been careening from one financial crisis to another for far too long and this proposal will lessen the burden on lower and middle income taxpayers without sacrificing the availability of services on which Illinois residents rely.”

Illinois is one of only nine states that currently have a flat income tax.

“Almost every state that taxes income uses a fair rate system, including some states with very conservative political climates,” Cunningham said. “This constitutional amendment would discard our outdated tax system and replace it with a modern, equitable one.”

Another provision in the package would freeze property taxes on Illinois residents as long as the state fully funds public schools in the state.

“Illinois residents should not be forced to pay exorbitant property tax rates in order for their children to receive a high-quality education,” Cunningham said. “High property taxes have been a serious issue for people in my district for a long time and this measure will finally start to bring some relief to taxpayers.”

The package will now go before the House of Representatives. 

Category: Press Releases

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