Senator Bill Cunningham News

Cunningham: New lottery ticket brings support to Special Olympics, Special Children’s Charities

Cunningham-polarA plan to help support the Special Olympics with a new lottery ticket was signed into law today. Senator Bill Cunningham (D – Chicago) cosponsored the legislation as it passed through the Senate.

The new law creates the Special Olympics Illinois and Special Children's Charities Fund, which would deposit all proceeds from a specially created lottery scratch-off ticket into an account with the Illinois State Treasury. Special Olympics Illinois would receive 75% of those funds for training, competitions and future programs. The remaining 25% would go to Special Children’s Charities funds.

"Helping pass this bill through the General Assembly was much easier than diving into Lake Michigan on a 17 degree day earlier this year," Cunningham said. "Either way, I am honored to support and promote the Special Olympics whenever possible."

Senator Cunningham has been an active supporter of the Special Olympics for years, having frequently participated in the organization's Polar Plunge fundraiser, during which hundreds of volunteers jump into the icy waters of Lake Michigan on a cold winter morning.

The lottery already helps fund special causes such as cancer research. “Go for the Gold” is the newest special cause scratch-off ticket proposed by the General Assembly. The Special Olympics have been going strong in Illinois since the first event was held at Soldier Field in Chicago in July 1968. Since then, the games have provided opportunities to over 21,000 athletes across the state.

The new measure passed both houses in May, and was signed into law by the governor on June 16.


PHOTO: Rep. Fran Hurley, Sen. Cunningham and Alderman Matt O'Shea before the 2014 Polar Plunge.


Cunningham votes to protect local school funding

040114 CM 0304csSPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Bill Cunningham today voted against legislation that would cost local suburban schools nearly $22 million in state funding according to the Illinois State Board of Education’s projections. The proposal, which would create a windfall of funding for many poorer downstate schools, would also drastically slash state funding to suburban schools that are struggling to make ends meet with current levels of funding. 

“Our school system is in desperate need of education funding reform, but this is not the right proposal. I commend the sponsor for taking up this monumental task, but I simply cannot support a proposal that would cut state funding to school districts in the southwest suburbs by nearly 90 percent,” Cunningham said.

However, Cunningham continues to remain optimistic that substantive education reform will be a major topic of discussion in the General Assembly.

“While I can’t support this proposal, it is a positive first step in education funding reform. I look forward to continuing to work with legislators across the state to support more equitable education reform, along with a property tax relief package to take the burden of school funding off of local property owners,” said Cunningham.

The legislation, which passed today with a vote of 32-19, will be sent to the Illinois House of Representatives.


Cunningham named Blue Star Honor Roll legislator by military families


Cunningham-cmteSPRINGFIELD – The Blue Star Family Platoon recently named State Sen. Bill Cunningham a Blue Star Honor Roll Legislator for his support of military families. Cunningham is co-sponsoring House Bill 5872, which would allow the state of Illinois to issue Blue Star Banner license plates to the direct families of active military members.   

For nearly 100 years, military families have proudly displayed Blue Stars at their homes in support of their family members fighting abroad. Cunningham hopes to give families the same ability to show their support on their vehicles.

“This legislation is a simple reminder that we need to continue to support our military families. Having a loved one fighting for our country thousands of miles away, while being a source of immense pride for these families, is also incredibly difficult. We must continue to stand up for them as a community during these tough times,” Cunningham said.

House Bill 5872 recently passed the Illinois House of Representatives by a vote of 105-3 and is currently in the Senate Committee on Assignments.  


Too many standardized tests: Cunningham

cunningham-042514-testing-hearingCHICAGO – State Sen. Bill Cunningham held a subject-matter only hearing in Chicago on Friday regarding Senate Bills 2156 and 3460. Both pieces of legislation have been brought forward with the intention of limiting the amount of standardized testing students must participate in within the Chicago Public School District.

Under the current standards, students participate in up to 38 hours of standardized state testing every school year which adds up to nearly an entire week dedicated to testing instead of learning. As a result, some students can fall behind - something Senator Cunningham doesn’t think is acceptable.

“As a parent and a legislator, I have heard from countless educators in our community about the excessive tests they are forced to administer every school year,” Cunningham said. “This is why I’ve decided to sponsor two pieces of legislation that could greatly reduce the amount of state standardized testing schools are required to conduct every year.”

Senate Bill 2156 would directly limit the number of standardized tests to four annually, two of which must be state assessments and the other two would be for teacher evaluations. In addition, Senate Bill 3460 would not allow for the administration of state-developed tests to kindergarten, first and second grades for any reason other than diagnostic purposes.

The hearing was held in Chicago at the Michael A. Bilandic Building.


Sen. Cunningham to hold Chicago hearing regarding limits on standardized testing in schools

Cunningham2014CHICAGO – The Senate Education Committee will hold a subject-matter-only hearing regarding Senate Bill 2156 and Senate Bill 3460 this Friday. Both pieces of legislation look to limit the amount of standardized tests students are given in a school year. Cunningham is concerned that students spend excessive amounts of time taking standardized tests and not enough time learning new material, causing them to fall behind.

Who: Sen. Cunningham and Senate Education Committee          


What: Education Subject-Matter-Only Committee Hearing regarding Senate Bills 2156 and 3460


When: 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 25


Where: C600, Michael A. Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle St., Chicago


Cunningham adds private schools to safety, crisis planning


cunningham-040114-schl-sftySPRINGFIELD –In an effort to promote uniform public safety laws in all Illinois schools, yesterday State Sen. Bill Cunningham passed legislation requiring non-public schools to annually meet with local safety officials. Unlike public schools, non-public schools do not currently have to hold annual meetings with local police and fire departments to discuss safety measures.  

“Children in private schools need the same protections as those in public schools. Even in the safest neighborhoods, crisis scenarios do happen. This is not just about planning for a school shooter, but also for fires, tornados and other natural disasters,” Cunningham said.

In 2005, the School Safety Drill Act established minimum safety plan requirements for all public schools in Illinois. This legislation would extend the same requirements to all non-public schools.

Senate Bill 2710, which passed out of the Illinois Senate today with a 51-0 vote, will now move to the Illinois House. 


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18th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Criminal Law; Human Services (Vice-Chairperson);
Education; Labor And Commerce; Committee of the Whole.

Biography: Served in the House from 2011-13; full-time state legislator and
lifelong resident of the southwest Chicago area; born July 21, 1967; graduate
of Saint Barnabas Grammar School (1981), Mount Carmel High School (1985) and
the University of Illinois Chicago (1990); former advisor to Cook County
Sheriff Mike Sheahan and former chief of staff to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart;
youth soccer coach; parent representative on the Sutherland Local School
Council; lives in Beverly with wife, Juliana, and two daughters, Madeline and