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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