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

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

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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

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

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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

For this week's newsletter I wanted to share with you a recap of my office's legislative councils initiative, which launched last week, a reminder of tomorrow's town hall I'm hosting with Rep. Greg Harris and a legislative update. Keep reading for more information.

 

Single Mom's Legislative People's Council

 

Last week, I kicked off the first of several People's Legislative Councils. The goal of this initiative is to ensure the voices of 7th District residents are at the center of formulating the robust legislative agenda that I will introduce and carry in the Senate when we reconvene for the spring session next January. The goal is twofold: to build out policy and to provide excellent constituent services. We want everyone to feel seen, heard and served when they interact with me, our district office and staff.

 

The inaugural council featured single moms.

 

 

The moms spoke about the systemic barriers they navigate in accessing housing, being actively involved with their children’s educations, and accessing responsive wraparound social services, among other topics. We talked about what government looks like in the context of their daily lives and how our office can make it better serve them.

 

I will be hosting several People's Councils over the next several months, featuring nine different groups. To read more about the people's councils, click here.

 

Town Hall with Rep. Greg Harris

 

Tomorrow evening at 6 p.m., I will be hosting a town hall with Rep. Greg Harris.

 

 

At the town hall, Rep. Harris and I will provide a legislative and budget update, as well as answer questions from residents and provide information about state services and resources. The town hall will take place at Clarendon Park and will be held outdoors, weather permitting.

 

If you'd like to join us, you can register here. I hope to see everyone there!

 

Energy Legislation Update

 

The Illinois General Assembly is expected to take up energy legislation soon. Environmental advocacy organizations, labor groups and other stakeholders have been in active negotiations in an effort to reach an agreement that would put Illinois on a path to clean energy.

 

In the next few weeks, we're expected to return to Springfield for a one-day session in order to vote on the legislation. I believe we need to advance a bill that sets an aggressive timeline to reduce our carbon footprint and transition our energy sector to renewables. The research is clear that we need to do this soon, so I have communicated with Democratic leadership in the Senate, my colleagues, and with stakeholders two key points:

 

I cannot support energy legislation that does not include aggressive climate change mitigation goals that are consistent with research. Climate change is an existential crisis that affects everyone living on our planet today, and it affects us all — no matter where we live. We are precariously close to the point of no return, and therefore efforts to help slow and even reverse the effects of climate change must be at the forefront of our priorities. I can't support a proposal that lacks a commitment to setting realistic climate change goals. We should be leaders in building the clean energy economy, reducing climate change and building a future with more living-wage green sector jobs.

 

I cannot support legislation that includes a rate hike on energy bills for the people I represent. Many low-income families in the 7th District are already paying a disproportionate amount of their monthly income for heat and electricity. I won’t support legislation that increases monthly energy bills for families in the district, especially while we are all trying to recover from the pandemic and the associated economic strain. Moreover, given the recent and systemic abuses of the public’s trust by major utilities in Illinois, I firmly believe giving them more money right now simply is not tenable.

 

Over the coming weeks, as negotiations continue, I will keep you all updated on the latest developments.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or need help in anyway, please reach out to my office at (773) 769-1717, and we'll be more than happy to help you.

 

Sincerely,


Sen. Mike Simmons

Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th District

Category: Newsletters

Dear friend,

Yesterday, the first installment of the Child Tax Credits from the American Rescue plan were sent out to qualifying Americans, including many residents of the 7th District. These payments will continued to be distributed on the 15th of every month going forward.

I am very pleased to see this program implemented on a federal level. The pandemic impacted everyone, but it disproportionately hurt working-class families and families of color. I believe that a targeted approach to providing relief is an efficient way to help support the families who are struggling the most in the wake of COVID-19. If you're unsure whether you qualify or have questions about the program in general, feel free to give our office a call at (773) 769-1717, and we'll be more than happy to help!

During the spring session, I introduced and strongly advocated for a similar program to be implemented here in Illinois. I believe that it's extremely important to set up this support system on a state level, and that's why I'm grateful we were able to get the ball rolling on this idea in the State Senate. It led to a constructive discussion during its hearing in the Senate Revenue Committee, and I am continuing to engage in conversations with leadership, my colleagues, stakeholders and advocacy groups — including Illinois Action for Children, SEIU, and Economic Security for Illinois — to build support.

In addition, I was able to find success with several other pieces of legislation I had been sponsoring. Thanks to the help of some great advocacy groups, as well as my colleagues in the General Assembly, I was able to move six measures through both chambers and on to the governor's desk, with one already signed into law. I anticipate that the remainder will also be signed as we move through the summer. With the spring session behind us, before I shift focus to the future, I wanted to give everyone a recap of what was accomplished this year in Springfield.

2021 Legislative Accomplishments

The Jett Hawkins Act

Senate Bill 817, known as the Jett Hawkins Act, prevents school boards, local school councils, charter schools and nonprivate schools from creating hairstyle-based dress code requirements. I was inspired to sponsor this legislation in support of Jett Hawkins, a 4-year old boy who was sent home from school earlier this year for having braids that violated his school’s dress code. I wear freeform locs myself, and I have first-hand experience with being discriminated against for your hairstyle choice. No child should have to risk discrimination simply for sporting a hairstyle that remains true to their heritage, culture or ancestry.

COVID-19 Data Gathering

Senate Bill 2133 requires state agencies and hospitals to gather more specific data on age, sex, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity when dealing with patients. I was proud to sponsor this legislation and work with The AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Equality Illinois on it. Both organization cited a lack of routine data collection that has prevented an accurate outlook on the coronavirus’ effect on the LGBTQIA community in Illinois. Members of those communities are more likely to have chronic conditions and other risk factors that can increase vulnerability to COVID-19.

I see this as the first step to ensuring visibility and justice for historically wronged communities, which is especially important as Illinois recovers from a pandemic that has only aggravated these injustices. This is a response to valid concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic in particular is harming communities that already were very poorly served by the health care system.

Rental Assistance Qualification Eligibility Expansion

House Bill 648 raises the income threshold for someone to qualify for Illinois' Rental Housing Support Program from 30% of the median family income for the area to 35%. Many renters in our state are still reeling from the economic effects of COVID-19. The harsh reality is that many Illinoisans are burdened by their rent, and the programs we have in place to offer support need to adjust to meet that reality.

Fighting Racially Based Emergency Calls

 

House Bill 3262 was an initiative of the House sponsor, my friend and colleague Rep. Maurice West, in response to the all-too-common practice of people, the majority of whom are white, calling the police to report a Black person when there is no active threat to public safety. Under this legislation, anyone who makes such calls on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual identity, disability, or a number of other protected-class factors can be charged with a hate crime and subject to criminal and civil liabilities. Calling the police as an intimidation tactic against someone because you don’t like or are uncomfortable with their identity should never be an option. This practice, which is almost always rooted in racism, is a serious threat to public safety and to the welfare of Black lives, and we need to do all that we can to deter it.

Black people should be able to live their lives and exist in public spaces without having to fear facing a potentially dangerous interaction with police.

Rape Crisis Service Certification

House Bill 3265 updates the state’s definition of “rape crisis organization” to include rape crisis centers certified by a statewide sexual assault coalition. It also changes the definition, so rape crisis organizations with other co-located programs can still be considered rape crisis organizations under the law. Certification allows organizations to provide prompt confidential services. The current definition of rape crisis center is too narrow and excludes a lot of great organizations, which severely limits their ability to provide help to survivors who need it.

Once this initiative becomes law, we'll be correcting a major systemic problem and ensuring that we’re making it easier for survivors of sexual assault to get the resources they need.

General Assembly Vacancy Transparency

I proposed an important component of the comprehensive election law that the governor signed in mid-June, Senate Bill 825. My contribution to the package, which focused on transparency, requires that a committee filing a vacancy in the General Assembly make certain information available to the public. This information includes the names of the people on the committee filling the vacancy; the date, time, and location of the meeting to fill the vacancy; and any information relating to how to apply for consideration to fill the vacancy. It also requires that the meeting to fill the vacancy be publicly accessible and held either in the district or virtually. I will continue to push for legislation that brings sunshine, transparency and accessibility to government operations for everyday people.

All in all, I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish during my first few months in the Senate. It was definitely hard work, but the results were worth it. I look forward to continuing the fight for the people of our district and for everyone across the city and state.

Thank you all so much. It is an honor to represent you. I look forward to meeting you and seeing you across the 7th District this summer.

 Sincerely,


Sen. Mike Simmons

Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th District

Category: Newsletters

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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