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

Cunningham-Hastings-022813br0235Illinois could potentially save $105 million if we use the federal funding that is being offered to us.  We would be foolish to let these federal dollars go to waste, especially when we have our own financial troubles.  In a few short months the legislature will need to craft a budget and the savings will come in handy,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham (D- Beverly).

Key components of Senate Bill 26:

  • All adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit ($15,415 for an individual) will be able to enroll in Medicaid starting January 1, 2014. Currently, adults are eligible for Medicaid only if they have disabilities or care for dependent children.
  • The federal government will reimburse Illinois for 100 percent of the costs of covering these newly eligible enrollees through 2017.
  • The reimbursement rate will decrease gradually after 2017 but stay at 90 percent after 2020.
  • If the federal government fails to reimburse the state at 90 percent or above, the newly eligible clients will become ineligible; Illinois will not be stuck with the bill.

Expected benefits include:

  • Access to routine, coordinated care for 342,000 low-income adults
  • Fewer unnecessary and uncompensated emergency room visits
  • An influx of $1.1 billion in federal dollars in the first year and more than $12 billion in federal funds in the first eight years of the expansion
  • Job creation in the health care sector
  • $105 million in annual savings to the state as federal funds replace state expenditures on mental health, HIV/AIDS drugs and other areas of spending
  • A reduction in the burden on hospitals and local government currently caring for the uninsured
  • Better preventive care and mental health care for a vulnerable segment of the population
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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