Cunningham-041113State Senator Bill Cunningham’s (D-Chicago) legislation to allow students with disabilities to receive physical education credit if they participate in outside athletic programs has passed the Illinois Senate.         

Currently, many student-athletes in Illinois do not qualify for waivers simply because their schools do not offer sports programs that accommodate students with disabilities.  Senate Bill 2157 would correct this problem by giving local school boards the ability to grant P.E. waivers to disabled students who are engaged in athletic activities outside of school. 

Under current state law, high school students who participate in interscholastic athletic programs can receive waivers that allow them to skip P.E. classes.

“If a student with a disability participates in an athletic program, he should have the opportunity to receive a P.E. waiver just like his peers who play basketball and football,” Cunningham said. 

In a past education committee, Adam Woodworth, a parent from the senator’s district testified with his son, Tyler, a student at Lockport High School.  Tyler participates in sled hockey, an athletic program for students with disabilities outside of school.  Adam wants the ability for Tyler to receive a P.E. waiver for his participation.

If Cunningham's bill becomes law, students with disabilities who participate in athletic programs outside of school could apply to their local school board for a P.E. waiver. A number of sports programs could qualify for the waiver, including wheelchair basketball, sled hockey, the Special Olympics and many others. 

SB 2157 passed the Senate and now awaits a vote by the full House.

Category: Press Releases

UPDATE 8.22.13: Cunningham’s legislation targeting "gang funerals" signed into law

CHICAGO – Thanks to a new law sponsored by Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago), Chicago streets will now be a little safer. It will allow police to impound the cars of drivers who dangerously swerve in and out of traffic waving firearms and flashing gang signs during so-called “gang funerals.”

"Gang funerals create major safety concerns for area residents and all of Chicago area.” Cunningham said. “We must give our police the tools they need to keep our streets safe.” 

In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel began pushing for a stronger law enforcement presence at funerals of gang members. In the past, these funerals have ended with offenders throwing loaded weapons out of cars, dangerous high-speed car chases, and even shots fired. Senate Bill 2154 will continue to crackdown on the gang members that choose to abuse these funerals. 

This legislation was a joint effort with Alderman Matthew O’Shea. Cunningham and O’Shea met with area residents whose neighborhoods have been plagued by gang funerals for years. O’Shea, who represents Chicago’s 19th Ward, testified on behalf of the legislation before the General Assembly.



UPDATE 4.18.13: SB2154 was approved by the Senate on April 17 and now awaits action in the House. Senator Cunningham recorded this video to further explain the need for and intent of this measure.



4-11-13  -  In an effort to punish motorists who drive recklessly in so-called "gang funerals," State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) won the approval of a senate panel Wednesday for Senate Bill 2154. The legislation would allow police to impound the cars of drivers who swerve in and out of traffic or allow passengers to hang out of the windows and doors of their vehicle during funeral processions.

"Reckless driving during funeral processions of known gang members is a growing problem on the South Side of Chicago and in the Southwest Suburbs," Cunningham said. "Too many times the streets of my district have been endangered by funeral processions in which gang members recklessly swerve their cars into oncoming traffic while passengers hang out of car windows and flash gang signs at pedestrians. This behavior not only creates a threat to public safety, it is highly disrespectful to the families of the deceased."

Senate Bill 2154 authorizes municipalities to impound vehicles used in reckless driving offenses if the car is part of a funeral or if the vehicle interferes with a funeral procession. Cunningham presented the bill to the Senate Transportation Committee and was joined by Alderman Matthew O'Shea of Chicago's 19th Ward, who testified in favor of the bill. O'Shea told the committee that the legislation was developed after a series of meetings with residents and police officers in his community, which has been plagued by gang funerals in recent years. 

SB 2154 now awaits a vote by the full Senate. 

Category: Press Releases

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

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