cunningham-031313As the spring legislative session came to a close last week, State Senator Bill Cunningham and State Representative Fran Hurley helped pass a crucial measure to protect the retiree health benefits of Chicago police officers, firefighters and other former municipal employees.

Senate Bill 1584 will extend a state law that requires four Chicago pension funds to cover certain healthcare costs for retirees. Without the legislation, retirees would have been required to pick up the cost of the benefit beginning on July 1 of this year.

“Thanks to this legislation, retired Chicago employees will not have to reach into their own pockets to cover a large portion of their health benefits,” Cunningham said. “Our retired police officers, firefighters and other municipal workers earned these benefits and should not have them canceled because some obscure state law is scheduled to expire.”

"Changes to retiree health benefits should be negotiated through collective bargaining, not through the legislative process," Hurley said. "My hope is the extension of these benefits will give retirees some cost certainty.”

Currently, the pension funds covering Chicago police officers, firefighters and other city employees provide a health insurance subsidy of $95 per month for each annuitant, including widows and children, who are not eligible for Medicare benefits, and $65 per month for each annuitant eligible for Medicare. These payments are scheduled to end on June 30, 2013.  If Governor Quinn signs SB 1584 into law, the benefits will be extended.

Payments for these healthcare benefits grew out of the 1987 Korshak lawsuit that stopped the City of Chicago's attempt to roll back retiree health care benefits for former employees. As part of the settlement, retirees and the pension funds started paying for a portion of retiree health insurance costs. The Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund, the Chicago Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund, the Municipal Employees, Officers and Official Annuity and Benefit Fund, and the Laborers’ and Retirement Board Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund are part of the Korshak settlement.

Category: Press Releases

Cunningham052913br0177State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) is supporting a measure to help protect the retiree health benefits of Chicago Police and Firefighters.

Senate Bill 450 seeks to extend a state law that grew out of a 1987 lawsuit when the City of Chicago attempted to roll back retiree healthcare benefits for former employees.  As part of the settlement, retirees and the pension funds started paying for a portion of retiree health insurance costs.

SB 450, of which Cunningham is a co-sponsor, extends that agreement. 

“Our Chicago police and firefighters worked throughout their careers to protect the public safety of the residents.  They should not be denied these benefits,” Cunningham said.

Currently, the police and firefighter pension funds transfer $95 per month for each annuitant, including widows and children, whom are not eligible for Medicare benefits and $65 per month for each annuitant that is eligible for Medicare.  These payments are scheduled to end on June 30, 2013.  If it becomes law, SB 450 will extend the benefits until June 30, 2015. 

Senate Bill 450 is pending in the General Assembly. 

Category: Press Releases

dog-fightingIllinois law enforcement agencies have seen increasing numbers of dog fighting incidents in recent years, prompting State Senator Bill Cunningham to sponsor legislation to raise awareness and end the cruel practice.  

House Bill 3388 would train police officers how to detect and respond to animal fighting. Cunningham passed the legislation through the Senate May 15 and sent the bill to the governor for his signature. 

“These dog fights need to stop and we need to train our police officers to detect this criminal activity,” said Cunningham.  

Animal fighting is on the rise in Chicago and it occurs on street corners, playgrounds and in back alleys and basements.  This illegal activity is often organized and associated with street gangs. 

“Animal fighting is cruel and barbaric, and a blight on society,” said Vicki Deisner, state director of ASPCA Government Relations for the Midwest region. “Illegal gambling, drugs and other crimes are frequently entrenched in this cruel blood sport, which often results in the death of the animals involved.”

Animal fighting is a public safety issue and an animal welfare issue. The dogs are often bred, raised, and trained specificly for fighting for the entertainment or financial gain with no regard to the torment and torture the dogs suffer. This law will also train law enforcement officers on how to respond to animal abuse, cruelty and neglect. 

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – Two 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 DVD s.   100% of the grant funds must be spent on materials. 

The list of libraries and schools who received the grants includes:

  • Chicago -  Marist High School      $3,510
  • Chicago Ridge  -  Chicago Ridge Public Library   $5,000
  • Evergreen Park  -   Evergreen Park Public Library   $5,000
  • Palos Hills  -  North Palos School District #117   $5,000
Category: Press Releases

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