Dear Neighbor,

We’ve wrapped up the spring legislative session! We passed a historic budget that includes a provision to expand the earned income tax credit, which I personally fought hard for. Alongside the budget, I was able to secure the passage of 10 pieces of legislation covering a range of issue areas including youth mental health. I also helped drive the passage of several bills as a chief cosponsor including groundbreaking gun safety legislation and a Medicaid expansion. The Senate finished its final session going late into the night and adjourning at 3 am! 

 

Here are some highlights from the budget:

$1.83 Billion in Tax Relief for Working Families

  • Permanently expands the earned-income tax credit for those currently eligible– putting an additional $105 million per year back into the pockets of low-income households
  • Expands eligibility for the earned-income tax credit to adults 18-24 years old, ITIN filers, and seniors 65 and older
  • Provides direct checks to working families: $50 per individual and $100 per child, up to three children per family
  • Helps teachers buy supplies for their classroom through a tax credit up to $500
  • Back to school tax relief on school clothes and materials for families and teachers – saving consumers $50 million
  • Suspends the tax on groceries for one year – saving consumers $400 million
  • Freezes the motor fuel tax for six months – saving consumers $70 million
  • Doubles the property tax rebate – up to $300 per household

We also secured a wage increase for 60,000 of our homecare workers who often care for seniors and help ensure seniors can remain living in their communities. My bill, SB4030, originally called for a $1.56 increase and was partially included in the final budget providing these workers a 70 cent an hour pay increase. We will continue to fight for pay equity for our frontline workers who do the hardest jobs and are absolutely indispensable and deserve a dignified wage. 

Supporting Arts, Theater and Music Venues, Restaurants, Breweries, and Small Businesses – All Key Wins for Our District

The budget also includes $50 million for new grants for arts organizations, music and theater venues, and an additional $50 million for restaurants, bars, and breweries. License fees for bars and restaurants are also being suspended. 

And it supports small businesses by providing $16 million for community navigators for technical assistance, and funding increases for the creation of low-interest loans for small businesses looking to grow or expand and that need access to capital. 

And the budget allocates $20 million for grants to attract and retain businesses in Illinois – encouraging people to start businesses here in Illinois and, in turn, create jobs – and another $350,000 for job training and employee development. It also includes $50 million for the Employer Training Investment Program -- $5 million of which will be used for the Office of Minority Economic Empowerment’s small business support efforts.

 

Paying Down Debt and Fulfilling Pension Promises

The budget meets the state’s full pension commitment while adding $200 million to pay down debt, bringing the total pension payment over what is required to $500 million dollars and saving taxpayers more than $1.8 billion. To save for an unforeseen crisis and protect the budget from future expenses, the Rainy Day Fund is appropriated $1 billion.

 

Investing in Education

The FY 23 budget invests in our children’s future by appropriating nearly $600 million in early childhood education and keeps our commitment to fully funding K-12 schools by dedicating an additional $350 million to fund the evidence-based funding formula.

College applicants would also see an additional $122 million for the needs-based MAP grant program – a total of $601 million in assistance would be available. This investment will make financial aid available to at least 24,000 more students and increase the maximum grant award to $8,508 – which is nearly half a year’s worth of tuition at a state university.

Prioritizing Mental Health

The budget puts $5 million in funding for Crisis Response services for individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis and call into the 9-8-8 hotline. Additionally, it calls for an increase of $50 million for addiction treatment services.

 

Legislative Updates

I am proud to share that I have ten bills heading to the governor’s desk for signing. The bills are: 

  • HB 4369 : Mandates lead inspections during lead abatement activities, adding enforcement teeth so we can reverse a decades old public health issue 
  • SB 4028 : Requires all Illinois K-12 schools to instruct on how and where K-12 youth can access mental health resources; sets up a diverse statewide Student Metal Health Council inclusive of queer youth voices and youth voices from across the diaspora. The council will recommend systemic changes to the mental health system for state legislators to act on.  
  • HB 4430: Groundbreaking legislation that will give those at risk of or recently exposed to HIV the option to access PreP and PEP medications at a local pharmacy. This is a big step in ending the HIV epidemic, ensuring those lacking health insurance or who don’t feel safe in medical settings to access life-saving medications. 
  • SB 702: Creates a statewide Senior Residents’ Council which will review the impact of COVID-19 on senior housing, living arrangements, and overall livability. The council will recommend formal policy and program changes ranging from improving outreach to seniors to addressing food insecurity. 
  • SB 3865: Removes the word “alien” from all Illinois state statutes, programs, etc., in reference to noncitizens and undocumented immigrants. We are a sanctuary state and a district of immigrants. The word alien has got to go. 
  • SB3136: Helps those who are houseless or housing insecure access health care by automatically re-enrolling them in Medicaid annually if they have no income, and ensuring at least 12 months of continuous coverage for those whose income fluctuates (especially helpful for our neighbors in between gigs or who have multiple sources of very small income). They deserve consistent and reliable health care! This bill was included in the Medicaid omnibus HB4343
  • HB 4589: Creates a Division of Men’s Health within the Illinois Department of Public Health, which will focus on preventing chronic diseases that reduce life expectancy for men. This agency will work alongside the existing Division of Women’s Health and Family Services. 
  • HB 5016: Provides remote learning for incarcerated young adults in custody. This will help give these folks the chance to complete a degree and better position themselves to re-enter their communities and secure work. 
  • HB 5201: Establishes an Agricultural Equity Commission which will identify ways to bring equity to the agricultural sector across Illinois and may look at issues such as land ownership for black farmers, economic opportunities for growers, and even health, food safety, and pay equity for black and brown agricultural workers. The commission will include socially disadvantaged farmers, business, and policy experts to begin to rectify historical injustices in this space. 
  • HB 5525: Creates the Commission on Children of Incarcerated Parents within the Department of Human Services to begin implementing recommendations from a two year working group co-led by Lt. Gov. Julianna Stratton that identified scores of policies and program improvements to better serve children whose parents are incarcerated, including ensuring they can maintain a healthy relationship with their parents. 

I also am proud to have helped secure passage of HB4383, groundbreaking legislation that outlaws untraceable “ghost guns” in Illinois. These are guns that are often assembled from parts purchased online and when the guns are recovered, they lack serial numbers. There were 455 ghost guns recovered in Chicago in 2021 alone. We absolutely need to get them out of our communities and this was a key step in driving down gun violence.

 

Sen. Simmons’ Community Event

Join us Saturday, April 30th for our Northside Resource Day Event at Swift Elementary. The Secretary of State's Office is joining us from 10:00am - 2:00pm and will be offering a variety of services for State IDs and Driver's Licenses (no Real ID services will be offered).

You can find more information about fees and required documentation you will need to provide at here.

 

7th District Candid Photo!

7th District Candid! Bowmanville garden is a charm every time and sits next to Rosehill Cemetery, itself a wonder.

 

Sen. Simmons’ Community Resources 

 

Illinois has received approval from the U.S. Department of the Treasury on its Illinois Homeowner Assistance Fund (ILHAF) program to provide assistance to Illinois homeowners who have struggled to pay their mortgage due to COVID-19. The state is now accepting applications from homeowners for grants of up to $30,000 to eliminate or reduce past-due mortgage and property tax payments. Apply here 

Cook County is seeking to award $65 million in grants for programs designed to prevent and reduce gun violence in Chicago and Cook County. These gun violence prevention grants hope to fund a variety of violence prevention strategies including mental health and employment services, street outreach and case management as well as other programs which support residents at-risk of being involved in community violence. These grants are part of nearly $1 billion of federal funding the county received from the American Rescue Plan Act. Applications for proposals under $1.5 million are due by May 9. For more information visit here.

The Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program seeks to increase diversity in the building trades by expanding pre-apprenticeship skills training in underserved communities. Those interested in enrolling in training should fill out the interest form here.

 

Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff if you have questions or would like to voice your opinion about legislative or budget issues. I would like to reiterate that our office is here to help. We are a non-judgment, welcoming place where 7th district residents are encouraged to contact us to request constituent services.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 if we can help you with anything.

Sincerely,

Mike Simmons

State Senator | 7th District  

Category: Newsletters

Dear Neighbor,

The last two weeks have been highly productive. I secured passage of several equity-focused bills that will lead to better health outcomes and well-being for many underserved people. 

Legislative Updates

             Sen. Simmons during Senate floor debate on HB4430

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Category: Newsletters

Dear Friend,

The legislative session is well underway, and last week I secured passage of three equity-focused bills out of the Senate! All three came directly from our People’s Legislative Councils, or from constituent phone calls and meetings. I am so proud that we consistently lift up the voices of residents of the 7th District, and we will continue to take a participatory approach to introducing and passing legislation. Your eagerness to participate and communicate with our district office has made it clear that residents' voices matter.

I would like to reiterate that our office is here to help. We are a non-judgment, welcoming place where 7th District residents are encouraged to contact us to request constituent services or to voice their opinions about legislative issues.

The Senate will reconvene next week. I will continue asking thoughtful questions in legislative committees, researching each bill under review, and working to ensure we produce quality and equitable legislation.
 
Continue reading for information on COVID-19 resources, my upcoming community town hall, and other community resources you or those you love may need.

Read more ...

Category: Newsletters

Dear neighbor, 

This week, we return to Springfield to review bills in committee. I have several bills co-written with 7th district residents that will be heard and look forward to asking questions, researching each bill under review, and working to ensure we produce quality bills that benefit real people and can be communicated as such across our district and state. In the meantime, I encourage you to continue protecting your neighbors from COVID-19 by wearing masks and remaining up to date on your vaccinations and booster shots. I would like to share with you a few updates on the state budget, pending legislation, and community resources you or those you love may need.

Gov. JB Pritzker gave his annual Budget and State of the State address last Wednesday:

The proposed budget recommends funding for key areas such mental health, college affordability, and violence reduction – all issues of critical importance to communities across our state.

Here are a few highlights that I thought were particularly important to our district:

  •  $70 million for implementation of the new 9-8-8 mental health hotline crisis response call centers. The 9-8-8 line will take calls from individuals experiencing mental health issues and will be a direct line to trained call-takers available to anyone experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts so they find the support they need at any time. I see this as one piece of a larger set of systemic changes that must take place soon to address the unprecedented toll on mental health aggravated in part by the pandemic and in other cases by violence and chronic economic injustices. I am looking forward to the development of a clear roadmap for Illinois to address key coordination, capacity, funding, and communication strategies for the launching of 9-8-8.
  •  $240 million for violence prevention for proactive community-led public safety strategies as part of the Reimagine Public Safety Act. We are all feeling the effects of violence, and we urgently need to scale up proven, data-driven efforts that help keep us safe. I am also happy to see funding included to implement the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention so that we can coordinate public policy to get guns off our streets and save lives. I will be paying close attention to these efforts and pushing for stronger gun safety laws at every opportunity. 
  • A $14.2 million increase for home-delivered meals for our seniors, many of whom in our district live alone and depend on these programs.
  • A $54.4 million increase for early childhood education, a crucial investment as we need to find ways to better support our children and ensure they can learn and develop intellectually and emotionally, especially in light of what they’ve had to weather during the prolonged pandemic.
  • A $122 million increase to the state’s Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grant program, which will help thousands of low-income high school seniors across Illinois receive need-based grant assistance to afford to attend Illinois colleges and universities. I know firsthand how pivotal of a resource programs like this are for college affordability for many young people across our district, and I am happy to see this generous increase proposed.

The budget also includes broader relief measures:

  • A one-year waiver of license fees for frontline healthcare workers and liquor license fees for bars and restaurants, saving those workers and small businesses approximately $38 million. I firmly believe we need to better support our frontline healthcare professionals, and believe this is a good step in that direction.
  • A one-year holiday from sales taxes on groceries beginning July 1, 2022.
  • A one-time property tax rebate payment to Illinois homeowners of 5 percent of property taxes paid (up to $300) for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of less than $250,000 (or $500,000 for married filing jointly taxpayers).

I applaud these relief measures, yet feel they should go further. That’s why I have reintroduced SB2132, my legislation that would establish a $600 child tax credit for parents struggling to weather the economic trauma of the pandemic and who have had to navigate so many systemic injustices over the last two years. I am committed to fighting for our parents and being a fervent voice on behalf of 7th District residents who continue to struggle economically with little or no help. I’ve also introduced SB4040, the “Single Parents Bill of Rights” legislation, which would provide 5 days of unpaid time off for single parents who need flexibility from their employers to be there for their children during extra-curricular activities, a parent-teacher conference, or just to have some quiet time for together for an afternoon. I know firsthand how much it meant when my mom could be there for me when I had a report card due or had a competitive athletic meet. I’m happy that this was one of several pieces of legislation co-written with 7th District residents coming out of discussions with single parents from Rogers Park, Arcadia Terrace, Uptown, Edgewater, and Ravenswood as part of our People’s Legislative Councils last summer and fall! I will keep ensuring district residents’ voices and experiences are directly reflected in our overall legislative work. I will also continue pushing for deeper, systemic public policy that can move the needle for constituents.

Legislative  Updates

LGBTQIA Senior Task Force

I am happy to announce that I’ve requested to be added as a chief co-sponsor on Senate Bill 3408, which establishes an LGBTQIA Senior Task Force for seniors across the state of Illinois. I value the input of our senior neighbors and I am excited to continue fighting for our diverse aging populations living within the neighborhoods of Lincoln Square, Edgewater, Uptown, West Ridge, Rogers Park, and Evanston.

CTA Bus Electrification

As a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, I am working with several of my colleagues in urging the Chicago Transit Authority to accelerate its plans to reduce carbon emissions by 2030. Our city and state must reduce our carbon emissions significantly to reduce the negative impact on our state shorelines, air quality, and transportation systems. I care deeply about public transit and want our region to be a leader in moving to a complete electric fleet. I questioned the CTA leadership on their current plans in a Jan. 27 committee hearing and pushed the agency to find ways to accelerate the timeline. As the country's third-largest city and second-largest transportation system, the impact that the CTA will have by expediting their electrification efforts will be significant if done earlier. The CTA’s current complete bus electrification deadline of 2040 needs to be revised, so we plan to continue working with stakeholders who care deeply about the issue, amplifying new technologies and practices, and advocating with them to decrease Illinois’ environmental negative impacts more broadly. 

Sen Simmons’ COVID-19 Resources

It is important that we continue to protect ourselves as well as our neighbors by wearing masks and getting vaccinated. I want to remind residents that Illinois, in partnership with Abbott Health and SHIELD Illinois, is proving 350,000 rapid antigen tests to the Chicago Public Schools. If you are looking to get your student vaccinated, you can find a vaccination site here.

COVID-19 Testing Locations HERE.

Vaccine sites in the 7th District:

Please visit the website linked to each location for more information and call ahead of time to check vaccine availability and to set up appointment times for any vaccines HERE.

Get Free COVID-19 tests at-home

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days. You can order your tests HERE.  

Second  #ChildrenCarryOn COVID-19 Pediatric Vaccine Event

Sen. Simmons congratulates a mom and daughter at the #ChildrenCarryOn pediatric vaccine clinic his office hosted with Rep. Cassidy and Ald. Osterman.

Sen Simmons congratulates a young district resident on getting his vaccine!

In support of our #ChildrenCarryoncampaign, my office, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and Alderman Harry Osterman hosted our second pediatric COVID-19 vaccine event with Genoa Healthcare and Heartland Health Centers. This event was a follow-up event from our Jan. 7 vaccine clinic. All children ages 5-11 were able to receive a first OR second dose vaccine and we had 300 booster doses for adults. It was one of the highlights of my time serving our district to see so many children and families, many of them immigrants, people of color, and lower-income families lining up to get their vaccine. We will continue to support our children and families and lead vaccine equity efforts for the 7th District. Thank you to all the volunteers who showed up in the cold and snow to both clinics to help those getting vaccines feel comfortable and welcome. Special shout out to the Vaccine Brigade! We appreciate YOU!

Vaccine Clinic Tomorrow in Rogers Park

A Just Harvest is offering a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic on Wednesday, Feb. 9 from 11 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 872-268-7590/ 872-268-7538 and remember to bring your vaccination card.

Sen. Simmons in the news:

Sen. Simmons’ Community Events

This Black History Month, join my office and Care For Real in collecting personal care items and especially Black hair care items. Care for Real is a community pantry serving food, clothing, and support throughout Edgewater and Rogers Park to thousands of neighbors each year. Care for Real was one of the first mutual aid organizations that I visited when I was sworn in just one year ago! They have been supporting our neighbors facing food insecurity who often also have challenges obtaining toiletries like deodorant, shampoo, and products specially formulated for Black hair that isn’t covered by SNAP benefits. This month, help stock Care for Real’s shelves to meet this need and donate new, full-sized toiletries until Feb. 28. Here is a list of locally owned Black businesses in my district to support! Drop off your donations to Senator Simmons’ district office located at 5533 N. Broadway or at Care for Real Monday-Saturday from 12-3 p.m. to the rear entrance of 5339 N. Sheridan Rd. Learn more about CFR at careforreal.org or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @cfrchicago. Thank you for joining us in caring for real!

Senator Simmons celebrates the Lunar New Year with the community at Furama Restaurant in Uptown Saturday morning, Feb. 5

Senator Simmons and the team participate in the Lunar New Year parade on Argyle St. in Uptown on Saturday, Feb. 5.

Sunday, Feb. 6 marked my one-year anniversary as your state Senator. It was an honor to spend my Saturday afternoon in Uptown, one of the many amazingly diverse communities within our district, participating in the Lunar New Year parade and celebrating in solidarity with the Chinese Mutual Aid Association and a wonderfully diverse crowd of parade goers and others celebrating. The Chinese Mutual Aid Association serves immigrants, refugees, and people from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.

Sen. Simmons’ Resources for Constituents:

Resources on Racial Equity


There is no room for discrimination in my district or across the state of Illinois. We must advance our learning to advance our journey of being better neighbors. I know the pursuit of racial healing and racial equity calls for more than one conversation. I would like to connect you to a resource to help you plan your first, second or even your 10th conversation. The Illinois Department of Human Services has curated this list of resources to help shape healthy dialogue across Illinois. Visit these resources in any particular order HERE. Explore community resources from the City of Chicago for racial equity advancement HERE.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice is offering virtual training to learn about how you can combat hate and harassment. To learn more and see additional dates, please visit:www.advancingjustice-chicago.org/antihate

On Feb. 8 the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing will be offering a webinar on the topic of Housing, Know Your  Rights. If you or your neighbor are curious about how to erase evictions or need housing support, visit their website here. This is a  free, virtual, legal clinic where the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing will help tenants with sealing old eviction filings. The event is listed here, space is limited and tenants need to register in advance. This event is for eviction sealing ONLY.

Charitable Trust has a system of grants that are available to help small nonprofits across Illinois. Grant applications are open until March 31. in three categories: Food Programs, Housing Programs, and Workforce and Economic Development. More information can be found in  the links below.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with daily updates, Follow Senator Simmons! 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 if we can help you with anything.

Sincerely,

Mike Simmons

State Senator | 7th District 

Category: Newsletters

Summer Book Club

Covid-19 Resources

Office Info

District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 769-1717

Springfield Office:
Senator 7th District
M115 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8492

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