Dear Friends,

Legislative Updates and Advocacy

It’s been a troubling couple weeks for our communities. We’ve seen the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, robbing us of a long-ago settled constitutional right to an abortion, and indication that the court may target other hard won generational rights. Like so many of you, I am grievously upset about the Dobbs decision, and its implications as many surrounding states already are beginning to outlaw abortions and to target medical providers of abortions. Just in the three weeks since Roe was overturned, we’ve seen the number of medical refugees from other states double as they come to Illinois, a haven for reproductive rights, for health care. The General Assembly will be going into a special session to shore up and further enshrine the robust reproductive rights we already enjoy at the state level. I have joined a working group in the Senate that will be focused on developing legislation. I will fervently and vigorously speak up and push to ensure we focus on key systemic issues such as expanding the number of health care workers who are allowed to perform abortions so we can meet the increasing demand, ensuring health care workers are protected who come to Illinois and are able to practice, and developing protections for those same health care workers who provide gender-affirming care. This is a watershed moment and we as elected officials and community leaders must agitate and fight harder than ever for the millions of women, transgender people, non-binary people, and pregnant people whose reproductive rights are being rolled back. I also am a chief-cosponsor of HB1464, legislation that passed the House in March that allows health care workers to practice in Illinois who were disciplined in another state for performing abortions.

Then on July 4, a deadly shooting occurred not far from us in Highland Park during an Independence Day parade that took seven lives and injured dozens more. All in the same weekend, there were just as many killed or injured in gun violence across Chicago. We can no longer live like this where nowhere is safe from guns, and deadly shootings have become a frequent occurrence. I ardently support more restrictions on guns, including a ban on assault weapons and am a cosponsor of SB2510, which would ban assault weapons in Illinois. I will be pushing the Senate to look at a mix of improvements that could ban military style weapons, and fix a broken system that still allows people to get their hands on guns who shouldn’t have them. I will be listening to and working with survivors of gun violence, our neighbors, the Senate Progressive Caucus of which I am a member, and gun control advocacy groups as we push to act on these measures. I will be passionate about advocating for policy changes that meet the moment.

Thank you to each and every one of you who has called my office, penned a letter, wrote an email, and chatted with me in the community about reproductive rights and gun safety. I will keep you updated as key bills get formulated and start to move through the legislative process, and once the date for the special session is set. I appreciate hearing from you all. It always helps me advocate for policy changes when I can directly represent what I have heard from our community.

We also have seen an alarming number of pedestrians and cyclists injured or killed in recent weeks on our arterial streets and side streets. I am a steadfast supporter of making our roadways much safer for those on foot, those using public transit, those on bikes, and those who are disabled. I wrote a letter along with Rep. Greg Harris and Rep. Kelly Cassidy to the Illinois Department of Transportation to begin exploring safety improvements that can be made to two major state routes that run through and adjacent to our district, Peterson Avenue (Route 14) and Irving Park (Route 19). Rep. Cassidy, Ald. Harry Osterman, and I are also working with IDOT to improve pedestrian safety along Ridge Ave (another state route) just west of Broadway. I will keep everyone up to date as new road and policy changes are considered. See the letter HERE.

In other legislative updates, I participated in a national roundtable of advocacy groups, elected officials, and agency staff to discuss the implementation of legislation I passed last year, SB 2133 which initiates the collecting of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data across all state departments. This is a big step for addressing systemic issues such as access to healthcare for LGBTQ+ people, adequate resources for programs that serve LGBTQ+ youth, and even adequate housing for LGBTQ+ seniors. It’s important to share what we’re learning from implementation efforts, so it was an honor to participate in the roundtable.
 

Governor Pritzker signed two bills aimed at expanding protections for sexual assault survivors, including SB3023 which I chief-cosponsored in the Senate. It was an absolute honor to take part in this historic moment and stand alongside the incredible people who made this possible at the bill signing. It also doubles the amount of time that survivors can access treatment, expands the number of facilities they can use, and eliminates billing for essential trauma-informed health services survivors need to access and on a timeline that works better for them. And HB5441 amends the criminal code to specify that someone is unable to give consent when intoxicated. Both these measures help to improve systems that re-traumatize survivors and ensure better overall legal and medical care for survivors.

Also, I’m excited that Gov. Pritzker signed legislation, HB4430, authored by me and Rep. Cassidy that enables people, who've been potentially exposed to HIV, to access life-saving medications PREP and PEP from a pharmacy. This closes a major systemic gap in the healthcare system that disproportionately impacts LGBTQ+ people. This was personal because I know from firsthand experience what it felt like a few years ago in 2018 when I lacked health insurance and needed urgent access to medications like these. Thank you to the coalition of excellent advocacy groups who helped us draft and heavily negotiate this bill, including Timothy Jackson of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago who testified in the Senate on behalf of the legislation and dozens of other advocacy organizations and community based health care providers who were pivotal to getting this policy changed. This legislation puts us on a path to sharply reduce new HIV infections by 2030 as part of the Getting to Zero plan.

I was honored to join the Chicago Therapy Collective in a unique teach-in we did together at Midsomarfest to empower the community to take action to urge passage of legislation I strongly support, HB2542 which would modernize name change laws. Passage of this bill would benefit a disproportionate number of transgender people in our community and across the state. Several transgender residents roleplayed how the current laws affect their everyday experiences in discriminatory ways, while I roleplayed what it is to call and contact your local state Senator, and urged action on this bill. Thank you to Chicago Therapy Collective for the invitation and for initiating this powerful teach-in for our neighbors.


 

Community Updates

Senator Simmons Out in the District

ATTENTION young people, parents, and siblings! Join us for the first annual Chalk and Talk with Senator Mike Simmons on Saturday, Aug.6th in Rogers Park at Willye White Park at 1610 W. Howard. Details below:

We will also be distributing free book bags to youth and parents at this event, so come get yours!

Learn about Indigenous Edgewater with the Senator!

Interested in learning more about the history of indigenous people who called Edgewater home for hundreds of years alongside Senator Simmons? Visit the Edgewater Historical Society on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4p.m. If you’d like to do a tour alongside Senator Simmons on Aug. 20th, please rsvp with our office at 773-769-1717 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



 

The Governor and Lieutenant Governor Came to Andersonville!

Governor Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor Stratton came to visit Andersonville, so Representative Cassidy and I gave them a tour of our beautiful and busy Clark St!


We visited some key local businesses in Andersonville like Foursided Card Gift & Vintage, Women & Children First Bookstore, and Rattleback Records. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to catch-up with owners up and down Clark. Andersonville has some amazing local businesses and food, and it is always a pleasure to go into local shops and see how everyone is doing!

We also visited the ever-evolving mural in memory of Elise Malary on Clark and Farragut. We even got the chance to write down a few words in memory of her on the mural.

Senator Simmons visits Chicago Pride Parade, Pride Festival, and Pride North

After a two year hiatus, this year’s Chicago Pride Parade kicked off once again in our district near Broadway and Montrose! It was wonderful to see so many people back on the parade route to celebrate pride. I marched with some of my staff and volunteers from our district! Thank you so much to the volunteers that came out to march with us! If you are interested in volunteering with my office, please consider signing up with this form!

I also joined several LGBTQ+ community leaders, activists and elected officials in speaking at the Pride Festival, where I reminded a crowd of nearly 1000 people of the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights that grew out of the Stonewall Rebellion, and fueled the gay rights movement. I encouraged the crowd to pay attention to the more than 300 bills introduced in legislatures around the country targeting LGBTQ+ people, specifically youth, and urged them to get involved, remember the struggle it took to win the rights we now enjoy and are used to, and get ready to fight to protect them.


I also visited Pride North in Rogers Park and enjoyed chatting with many of our neighbors and celebrating out loud and proud and supporting local businesses.

Pride Month Reflection Press Conference 2022

To finish off Pride Month, I hosted a second annual Pride Month Reflection Press Conference at the historic Gerber/Hart Library and Archives in Rogers Park at 6500 N. Clark. I invited LGBTQIA+ community leaders and fellow elected officials to come together and reflect on Pride Month, the progress that's been made for LGBTQIA+ rights, and the work that remains. It was a very inspiring and powerful event as it helped myself and everyone involved collect our thoughts on what we should take away from this year’s pride. Thank you to everyone who joined in watching the livestream on Facebook or Instagram. The entire event recording is available now, so check it out if you would like to see all of our remarks!

Commencements Recap

This graduation season, I have had the honor of speaking at a multitude of graduations across our district as a commencement speaker, including Chicago Math and Science Academy, Mather High School, Walt Disney Magnet, McCutcheon Elementary, Eyes on the Future Child Development Center, and Ravenswood Elementary. I also spoke with middle school students at Peterson Elementary School and the Future Presidents of America program. I just want to say a big congratulations to all of the graduating students in our community! No matter if you are graduating from elementary school, high school, or university, the class of 2022 has faced some harsh challenges over the past couple of years, and making it through all of it while being a student has been an admirable effort. Well done, class of 2022! Go out there and see the world, but don’t forget where you come from. Always remember your community, your culture, and those who worked hard to get you to where you’ve landed. We’re all counting on you!

Chicago Math and Science Academy

Mather High School

McCutcheon Elementary School

Disney Magnet School

Eyes on the Future Development Center

Ravenswood Elementary

World Refugee Day in Rogers Park

As the son of an Ethiopian refugee, I took great joy in joining community members and refugee-serving social service agencies across our district in marching with refugees and family and allies of refugees in honor of our extended human family. We know Rogers Park especially is home to so many refugees from all over the world, and has welcomed generation after generation of refugees including my own dad and uncles, and it was just a special joy to be there with the community – older and younger – and marching together from Pottawattomie Park around several streets in Rogers Park as one human family.

Alliance for the Great Lakes Celebration

I also joined the Alliance for the Great Lakes for their annual celebration at Theater on the Lake and was glad to meet several policy advocates who are fighting to protect Lake Michigan, our greatest treasure.

Juneteenth Celebrations

I enjoyed visiting two public Juneteenth celebrations in our district last month, one in Uptown at Truman College and one in Rogers Park on Paulina St. Thank you to all the community organizations such as Voice of the People in Uptown and A Just Harvest in Rogers Park for organizing these absolutely beautiful celebrations of Blackness and liberation. I was so proud to be there in my capacity as our district’s first ever Black state Senator.




 

Ride For Life Celebration

I was honored to give the closing speech welcoming back those who rode their bikes 200 miles in support of Test Positive Aware Network, a service agency based in our district in Edgewater providing lifesaving care to those affected by HIV. As an avid cyclist who has done this ride twice before, I was thrilled to welcome back all our awesome riders! Congrats TPAN!

Montrose Behavioral Health Center Ribbon Cutting

Another exciting update! I was honored to speak at the groundbreaking for a new facility that will open in Uptown at 4720 N. Clarendon and serve children and teens. They will provide both outpatient and inpatient care to children 5-12, and adolescents 13-17 and use age appropriate programming to ensure healthy outcomes. I am happy our community has a new resource for our young people who need so much more from our mental health system.



 

Gerber/Hart Library and Archives’ De-Coded Exhibit Opening July 23 at 6p.m.

Gerber/Hart Library and Archives is opening a new historical exhibit about the relationship between LGBTQ+ people and the law in 1961 Illinois. As I hosted my Pride Month Reflection Press Conference at Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, I encourage all of you to join them on opening night and explore this brand new exhibit! A flyer with more details is below! It’s free!


 

Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff at 773-769-1717 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.

Sincerely,

Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th District

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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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