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SPRINGFIELD – Rank-and-file Chicago firefighters would have greater oversight and control of funding intended for their department under legislation passed by the Illinois Senate today.

Sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham and State Representative Fran Hurley, House Bill 5197 would establish a Foreign Fire Insurance Board, an entity that will be entrusted with the expenditure of fire insurance fees collected exclusively from insurance companies whose corporate headquarters are located outside of Illinois.

Currently, the City of Chicago receives about $5 million in fire insurance fees, which are directly deposited into the city’s general fund. HB 5197 would transfer control of those funds to a newly established fire insurance board and require the city to turn over fire insurance revenue to the board.

“The legislation streamlines the flow of tax dollars and allows Chicago firefighters to determine how revenue intended for their own department is used,” said Cunningham, a Democrat representing parts of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “The funding will now go directly to fire suppression instead of being spread throughout the city budget.”

Advocates of the legislation say it will improve Chicago firefighters' safety and effectiveness through enhancements in their equipment and training. The funds will be used to purchase of items such personal protective gear, tools, fire apparatus, enhanced training and for firehouse improvements.

“This newly created board will draw on the knowledge, experience and expertise of the rank-and-file to purchase items that allow them to safely operate in the many hazardous situations they routinely encounter,” said Robert Tebbens, director of political action for the Chicago Firefighters’ Union. “It will also give their families confidence that they will return home safely.”

Under current law, the Chicago Fire Department is the only one in the state that does not have a fire insurance board. The fire insurance board would consist of the department’s fire commissioner and six elected trustees.

HB 5197 now heads to the House for approval.

Category: Press Releases

05232018CM0617 RSPRINGFIELD – Local school boards would have the final authority to approve or decline new charter schools under legislation passed out of the Senate Executive Committee today by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and parts of the Southwest Suburbs.

The legislation, House Bill 5175, eliminates charter schools’ ability to appeal a local school board’s decision to deny or not renew a charter school. Under current law, a charter school applicant may file an appeal with the State Charter School Commission, who can reverse the school board’s decision.

“Local school boards are deeply invested in the communities they serve and ultimately know what’s best for their schools,” Cunningham said. “The State Charter School Commission shouldn’t be able to reverse decisions by local leaders elected by voters in that community.”

The legislation leaves in place a provision allowing charters to be approved by referendum if at least 5 percent of the voters in a school district petition the school board.

HB 5175 now heads to the House for concurrence.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD - Illinoisan families using the Illinois Treasurer’s College Savings Pool would receive heightened safeguards on their investments and would be given the option to use the funds if unexpectedly faced with disability-related expenses under legislation passed out of the Illinois Senate today.

House Bill 4751, introduced by State Senator Bill Cunningham, would resolve discrepancies between federal requirements and the College Savings Pool administered by the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office. The state treasurer administers college savings programs like Bright Start and Bright Directions, which allow Illinois families to save while taking advantage of federal and state tax benefits, allowing contributions to grow on a tax-deferred basis.

HB 4751 minimizes the fees that the State Treasurer’s office may charge for the costs of managing the college savings accounts, by requiring that the Treasurer must keep the fees as low as possible and consistent with the associated costs. The measure also declares that contributions to the College Savings Pool are not state funds and cannot be commingled with state funds.

To help families faced with unexpected costs relating to disabilities, the measure would also allow account owners to roll over funds into an Illinois ABLE account with incurring taxes. Illinois ABLE is a tax-advantaged investment program that provides persons with blindness or disabilities the option to save for disability-related expenses without putting their federal means-tested benefits at risk.

“If circumstances change and college is no longer a goal, families dealing with the burden of disability expenses need to have the option to tap into their Bright Start or Bright Direction funds,” Cunningham said.

HB 4751 now moves to the House for concurrence. Cunningham represents parts of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Bill Cunningham was joined by students from Orland Park, Oak Lawn, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, and Palos Park for this year's Student Tech Showcase at the state Capitol.

Organized by Illinois Computing Educators, Tech Day aims to increase awareness of the critical role technology plays in the modern learning environment by offering student an opportunity to demonstrate their projects while highlighting the need for adequate funding for educational technology.

"In today's world, tech education is essential for setting our kids up for success," Cunningham said. "These projects demonstrate just how creative our kids are when given resources and tols to apply their ideas using technology."

The event featured students from High Point Elementary School and Liberty School in Orland Park; Oak Ridge Elementary School in Palos Hills; Palos East Elementary School in Palos Heights; Palos West Elementary School in Palos Park; Oak Lawn Community High School; and Conrady Junior High School in Hickory Hills.

Category: Press Releases

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 18th District
307 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5145
(217) 782-2115 FAX
District Offices:
10400 South Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 445-8128
(773) 672-5143 FAX

16033 S. 94th Avenue
Orland Hills, IL 60477
(708) 233-9703