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Climate change is happening live. In the 7th District, we see the effects of it in many ways, including on our eroding shoreline and invasive species in Lake Michigan. We also are living through unprecedented changes in weather patterns, storms, and months-long fires raging across the west. We are running out of time and need to make big changes to save our climate. As a chief co-sponsor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), I support much of what was included in legislation passed out of the Senate earlier this week. I am happy to see Illinois is putting our state on a course to becoming free of fossil fuels by 2050. However, there are two points that led me to vote present on this legislation. First, the final bill did not have an aggressive enough timeline to phase out greenhouse gases. Second, the bill includes rate hikes on residents that will bail out Exelon for the second time in five years in order to keep nuclear plants open.

I wanted to brief you on the bill, my vote, and my fight against rate hikes for consumers, especially low-income people and seniors.

The Energy Transition Act puts our state on a path to phase out power generated by climate-damaging fossil fuels and puts the state on a path to 100% carbon-free energy by 2050, with goals of 40% of our energy coming from renewable sources by 2030 and half by 2040. All privately owned coal plants in the state would have to shut down by 2030. Natural gas plants will have until 2045. It also sets a timetable for carbon emission reduction at Prairie State, which is the 7th largest polluter in the country. The legislation creates a number of incentives and programs that will enable job creation in the renewable sector over the next several years, along with aiming to place 1 million electric cars and trucks on the road by 2030. These are all solid steps forward.

In recent months, however, many residents emailed and called to make two priorities clear:

  • We need real action on climate change to save our state and our planet
  • They did not want this to be accomplished by means of bailing out nuclear and other power plants

This bill will raise fees and rates for residents and will impact low-income families and seniors the most.

The bill achieves all of the above in tandem with keeping several nuclear plants open, which provide us a source of carbon-free energy in the interim as renewables begin to come online. But the bill will raise monthly electricity bills for residents across the state around $4 or more dollars per month, and potentially even more for local businesses. Right now, residents and mom-and-pop businesses are trying to weather a pandemic that has been unrelenting for them. Many residents are falling behind on rent and are already behind on their electric bills. Many of our neighborhood shops have shuttered or are barely making it. I know firsthand what it’s like to have your lights shut off or to forgo heat in the winter because of high electric bills, and I would have preferred that the bill used federal ARPA dollars or other sources to keep the nuclear plants live in a way that would not rely on higher charges for already vulnerable residents.

Nearly 25% of residents in parts of the 7th District live below the poverty line, which means they spend over 13% of their income solely on energy bills. These charges add up, especially during and after the financial hardships of the pandemic.

Rogers Park: 23.6% below
West Ridge: 17.2% below
Uptown: 24% below
Lincoln Square: 10.9% below

Exelon Rate Hikes On Residents

The money from the rate hikes will subsidize Exelon, the parent company of ComEd, to keep the nuclear plants open. I have grave concerns that Exelon will receive these subsidies given their track record of systemic public corruption in recent years. I also feel like it’s a fundamental question of equity and justice that we should not be providing corporate subsidies on the backs of low-income residents anymore, especially during a pandemic that has aggravated inequality across our state. We can’t keep doing things the same way they’ve always been done.

Due to the rate hikes on residents and the payouts to major energy companies, I simply could not vote in full support of this bill, knowing it would be on the backs of our low-income residents. I simply feel it is untenable to support a rate hike of this scale on lower-income folks and local businesses when past rate hikes simply have not yielded the results that were promised.

This bill is a long time coming, and I do want to thank all of you, many 7th District residents who reached out to me about what’s in today’s bill over the last several months. I also would like to thank all the environmental organizations, consumer protection groups, and labor organizations who worked for many months to get us to this week’s vote. As I said earlier, as a chief co-sponsor for CEJA, I support many of the components of this bill but simply cannot support a rate hike on residents and mom and pop businesses and giving another dollar to Exelon right now. I also look forward to continuing to work with Senators and environmental groups to accelerate the timeline to get us free of fossil fuels much sooner where we can because the science is very clear that we are nearly out of time.

Click below to watch a video recap of my remarks yesterday at the State Capitol where I discuss the legislation and my vote.

As always, I encourage you to reach out to my office at 773-769-1717 with any questions, concerns, or suggestions, or visit https://senatormikesimmons.com/.

See you out in the district soon!

Category: Newsletters

Dear Friend,

Back to School Events

After one of the most trying school years we’ve ever had, it’s important that we support education, especially students, so I participated in some back to school events around the 7th District. A lot of people could use a bit of help with information about the upcoming school year or school supplies, so that’s what we provided at these events. I want students and parents to know that my office is always a place they can turn to for support.

back to school 01

My office hosted an event with many community service organizations and resource
providers, where we were able to hand out school supplies to nearly 500 families.

Last week, I was joined by Ald. Harry Osterman, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and US Rep. Jan Schakowsky at Senn High School in Edgewater to hand out school supplies. Over 500 families attended and received items their students needed. My office also attended a Back to School Bash at Hayt Elementary in Edgewater, and we provided information to students, parents and community members. My office also donated backpacks to Uplift High School in Uptown, Budlong Elementary School in Lincoln Square, Mather High School in West Ridge, Jordan Elementary School in Rogers Park, and a variety of social service organizations in the 7th District.

back to school 02

My office hosted our own table with activity books, more information on the services we
provide, and snacks, games, and stickers for the students who stopped by.

back to school 03

Sen. Simmons hands out backpacks and supplies to kindergartners!

Donation Drives

Over the next few weeks, there will be some donation drives in the 7th District that you can participate in to help support our neighbors.

donation drive

Tomorrow, Sat. Sept. 4, there is a donation drive to help support resettled Afghan families, who left their country last month when the U.S. military was fully withdrawn.

donation drive2

The Chicago Therapy Collective is hosting an Essentials Drive to support Black and Brown LGTBQIA+ youth. My office, located at 5533 N. Broadway Avenue, is a donation location. You can come by Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to donate items.

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

Sincerely,

simmons sig

Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th District

Category: Newsletters

Dear Friend,

Our office is now more accessible than ever! We have a new texting service where you can send inquiries. Simply send a text to (773) 945-9979 with your question, concern or request, and someone in my office will be more than happy to help!

text simmons

You can also call us at (773) 769-1717 or fill out the form at www.SenatorMikeSimmons.com/contact-us if texting is not an option for you.

We look forward to continuing to provide support to anyone who needs it!

Advocating for housing relief

The Illinois Rental Payment Program closed on July 18. Since then, residents have been reaching out to my office regarding rental assistance and eviction prevention support. The closing of the program and the expiration of the eviction moratorium on Aug. 1 has caused a great deal of financial stress for 7th District households, as many have struggled to keep up with rent payments during the last 15 months of the pandemic. Therefore, I wrote a letter with State Rep. Delia Ramirez to Gov. Pritzker asking for the ILRPP to be reopened and for more funds to be dedicated to assisting renters — so they can stay housed and so landlords can continue to be paid on time. The letter also requests greater support to prevent eviction for renters, more communication with renters and landlords on diversion programs, and the sealing of eviction cases so they do not end up on people’s records. The letter was signed by 27 members of the Black, Latino, and Progressive Caucuses of the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives, and submitted to the Governor on Aug. 10, 2021. We are expecting to receive a response and next steps by the end of this week. I will provide substantive updates as we receive them.

As a renter, you have rights. ONE Northside is hosting two emergency trainings to help you become aware of what those rights are. The trainings will be held Saturday, Aug. 21 at 1 p.m. and Wednesday Aug. 25 at 6 p.m., and you can register here. Advance registration is encouraged, but same-day registration is allowed.

I am here for you. Stay subscribed to this newsletter for updates.

Back to Business Grants

The Back to Business program (B2B) is a new $250 million small business relief program that will be available for small businesses in our community.

get back to business

Read on for more information about what kinds of businesses are eligible for B2B and how to apply. If you know a small business owner in need, feel free to forward this information to them. You can also direct them to my office at (773) 769-1717 or www.SenatorMikeSimmons.com for assistance.

What is the Back to Business grant program?

The B2B program, administered by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will award eligible small businesses one-time grants of up to $150,000 to cover operation costs, staff payroll and other expenses in an effort to make up for losses sustained due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of $250 million will be distributed.

Is my business eligible?

In order to qualify for a grant through the B2B program, a business must have made $20 million or less in revenue in 2019 and be able to demonstrate a reduction in revenue in 2020.

How will businesses be selected?

To direct aid where it’s needed most, DCEO will prioritize businesses in the following categories:

  • Businesses in particularly hard-hit industries, like restaurants, retailers, arts organizations, child care providers, fitness centers and mom and pop businesses
  • Businesses located in disproportionately impacted areas
  • Businesses that have not received funding through other state and federal relief programs
  • Businesses that brought in $5 million or less in revenue in 2019

When and how can I apply?

The B2B application portal is now open on DCEO’s website at Illinois.gov/DCEO.

Business owners are encouraged to review the program requirements and gather any required documentation before beginning their applications. A variety of local and state organizations are offering assistance to small businesses looking to apply for grants through B2B. A full, searchable list of these program partners is available here. There are also two small business agencies located in the 7th District that can help you apply:

I encourage interested small business owners to explore the program and see if their business may be eligible for aid. As always, my office can point you in the direction of helpful resources to make the application process smoother. Simply contact us at (773) 769-1717 or www.SenatorMikeSimmons.com.

And, speaking of small businesses, August is National Black Business Month! I encourage you to support all of our local black-owned businesses! Click these links for a list of businesses you can support in Rogers Park, and in Uptown!

simmons restaurant

Sen. Simmons shops locally at a black-owned restaurant on Howard St. in Rogers Park

The Jett Hawkins Act is now law!

Last Friday, I joined 4-year-old Jett Hawkins, his mother Ida Nelson, Gov. JB Pritzker and several General Assembly colleagues in the 7th District for the signing off the Jett Hawkins Act, banning school policies that penalize Black hair. No child should ever have to experience being traumatized or humiliated for honoring their heritage.

simmons hawkins

There has been a lot of media coverage on this historic legislation. Here's a selection:

In the District

As often as I can, I like to take the opportunity to meet with friends and neighbors in the 7th District, so that I can speak face-to-face with the people I represent and hear directly from them. I spent some time the past few weeks attending block club parties, yard sales, and back to school rallies where I met and heard from residents on issues such as: gun violence, climate change, senior wellness, access to housing, returning to schools during the pandemic, and diversity across the district. I am enjoying meeting you all and appreciate having direct perspectives from my constituents on issues in the community. If your block club is having an event and you'd like me to stop by, you can invite me by contacting my office at (773) 769-1717.

simmons edgewater

Sen. Simmons meets with residents in Edgewater

simmons ravenswood

Sen. Simmons speaks at a youth organizing summit in Ravenswood

simmons andersonville

Sen. Simmons attends a block party in Andersonville

simmons west ridge

Sen. Simmons talks with volunteers at a back to school event in West Ridge

simmons uptown

Sen. Simmons after running the annual Dim Sum 5K, hosted by Chinese Mutual Aid Association in Uptown

simmons lincoln sq

Sen. Simmons poses with residents while visiting a block party in Lincoln Square

simmons theater

Sen. Simmons chats with an Uptown family while attending a community celebration honoring Jackie Taylor at Black Ensemble Theater

simmons rogers park

Sen. Simmons tours PACTT Learning Center for children and young adults living with autism in Rogers Park

simmons edgewater2

Sen. Simmons leads a legislative town hall with residents of The Breakers, an independent living facility for seniors in Edgewater

simmons uptown2

Sen. Simmons helps serve lunch at a festival to celebrate youth in Uptown

Upcoming Events

Back to School Celebration

Mark your calendars! I am hosting a Back to School event Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 5 p.m. at Senn High School with our neighbors at 5533 N. Broadway Ave. We will be distributing school supplies to students who need them. We’ll also be at Jordan Elementary School on Saturday, Aug. 28 for their back to school fair. We will be distributing book bags stocked with supplies at schools across the 7th district next week.

Looking to donate school supplies? We are accepting donations all week!

simmons school supply drive

simmons school supply drive

Glenwood Arts Festival

We will be out this weekend in Rogers Park for the 20th annual Glenwood Arts Festival! Feel free to stop by and chat with us and support our local artists and vendors and meet your neighbors!

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

Sincerely,

simmons sig

Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th District

Category: Newsletters

Today marks six months since I was sworn in to serve you in the state Senate. I wanted to write with some updates and milestones that sum up what we've accomplished. I've included some figures about how my office is serving the 7th District, a recap of legislation I’ve helped to get passed, and some photos of me out in the district this summer!

 

Serving the 7th District

 

Our top priority in my district office is constituent service. I have set a goal of responsiveness, friendliness, and prompt outcomes for area residents who need our help. Over the past six months, we've answered 600 phone calls, responded to 5,023 texts and replied to 1,213 emails on a wide variety of legislative topics. We have received requests for help with rental assistance, SNAP benefits, Medicaid, small business aid and other needs. I am happy to report that we have helped 247 people sort out issues with their unemployment benefits since I took office. My office has proactively called through outstanding unemployment cases dating back to 2020 and sent 60,000 text messages to constituents about the rental assistance program. My staff and I take pride in looking after 7th District residents and encourage you to contact us should you ever need help navigating state benefits or resources.

 

I strive to make my district office a welcoming and non-bureaucratic place for everyone, and I want area residents to feel like they can come to me whenever they need help or have an idea. To help achieve this, I have so far attended over 60 community events so far this summer. I have also hosted three town halls this summer with State Rep. Greg Harris and State Rep. Kelly Cassidy. I want everyone who I represent to feel like they can access our office and feel seen, heard, and generally have a good experience getting what they need. I will be hosting more town halls and convening smaller legislative councils for members of the community in the coming months. To mark my sixth month in office, I should also mention that I secured the passage of six bills through the General Assembly that have been sent to the governor for his signature! Below are photos from a few events where I’ve provided a legislative recap of my work directly to local residents across the 7th District this summer and taken their questions and ideas:
 

 


Sen. Simmons celebrates Juneteenth with Rogers Park residents

 


Sen. Simmons attends an Edgewater Highland Hop

 


Sen. Simmons speaks with neighbors in Uptown and Edgewater

 


Sen. Simmons meets with residents at Cedar Playground.

 



Sen. Simmons visits various block parties in Uptown


Sen. Simmons visiting with Charles Hardwick and Jason Kaiser at the Howard Area Community Center and discussing jobs for returning citizens and health care needs for the local immigrant and refugee population

 


Sen. Simmons speaking with youth from Lawrence Hall at the unveiling of the Healing Garden

 

Enriching our community's youth

 

It’s important to center the voices and needs of our diverse youth across the 7th District. I spoke at several commencement ceremonies this summer where I encouraged our young people to take pride in their community and saluted them for enduring the difficult year they and their families just came through. I have met with many of our school principals this summer, and will be co-organizing a handful of back-to-school fairs to support our young people as they return to school in just over two weeks. It's important that schools, students and parents in our district know they have a strong ally, advocate, and voice for equity for our young people in me and my office.

 


Sen. Simmons speaks at Goudy Elementary School's graduation

 


Sen. Simmons talking with an area resident and writing cards to district high school graduates

 


Sen. Simmons meets with Principal Gomez at Hayt Elementary School

 


Sen. Simmons poses with students from Uplift High School

 


Sen. Simmons congratulates Sullivan High School graduates after giving commencement address

 


Sen. Simmons addresses Lincoln Museum's Future Presidents of America

 

Legislative Update

 

This spring was my first legislative session, and in my first six months here’s what I was able to accomplish:

  • I introduced 13 new pieces of legislation in the Senate.
  • I carried an additional 3 bills from the House as the chief sponsor.
  • I helped pass 34 measures as a chief co-sponsor.
  • I signed on as a co-sponsor to 84 additional pieces of legislation.

 

 

Of the legislation that I personally carried as the chief sponsor, I'm very pleased to announce that six of them passed through the General Assembly and were sent to the governor, with one already having been signed. These bills are:

  • Senate Bill 817, also known as The Jett Hawkins Act, which prohibits schools from discriminating against hairstyles associated with race and ethnicity;
  • Senate Bill 2133, which requires state agencies and hospitals to gather more specific data on age, sex, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity from patients;
  • House Bill 648, which expands the eligibility threshold for those in need of affordable housing to qualify for the Illinois Rental Housing Support Program;
  • House Bill 3262, which allows prosecutors to charge anyone who calls the police on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, disability, or a number of other protected-class factors when there is no emergency with a hate crime; and
  • House Bill 3265, which expands the state’s definition of “rape crisis organization,” which will facilitate access to more critical services for survivors of sexual assault.

 

In addition, Senate Bill 2131, which requires that committees filing a vacancy in the General Assembly make certain information available to the public, was rolled into the comprehensive election package Gov. Pritzker signed into law in June.

 

Last month, I sent a newsletter with more specific details about each measure that passed the General Assembly. You can read that newsletter here if you'd like more information about any of these bills.

 

I'm very happy that I was able to move these important pieces of legislation through the General Assembly, and I look forward to hearing from you this summer and fall and introducing new measures in the spring that amplify local voices and centers the needs of our diverse communities in the 7th District.

 

Supporting our local small businesses

 

Small businesses and independent retail give the 7th District its unique character and make this a terrific place to live and work. From Rogers Park to Uptown, Lincoln Square, Andersonville, Edgewater, Ravenswood, West Ridge, and Evanston, we are fortunate to have lots of local shops to patronize. I very much enjoy advocating for our local businesses and will continue to stop by and visit them to show my appreciation for everything they do for our neighborhoods.

 


Sen. Simmons attends Metropolis Coffee Company's soft opening in Edgewater

 


Sen. Simmons participates in a ribbon cutting ceremony at Nobody's Darling, a Black woman- and LGBTQIA-owned business in Andersonville

 


Sen. Simmons visits DANK Haus German American Cultural Center in Lincoln Square

 

It’s been an exhilarating six months serving our community, and I look forward to meeting many of you in the coming months and hearing from you.

 

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

 

Sincerely,


Sen. Mike Simmons


Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th District

Category: Newsletters

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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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