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

Applications for the Illinois Rental Repayment Program are due Sunday, July 18.

You could be eligible for $25,000 or 15 months of rental assistance.

To apply, simply click this link, or call the hotline for assistance: 1-866-454-3571.

I hope everyone who is in need of help paying their rent takes the time to submit an application.

Sincerely,


Sen. Mike Simmons

Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th District

Category: Newsletters

simmons healthcollabCHICAGO – Last week, Gov. JB Pritzker announced funding for equity-focused health care collaboratives across Illinois. The Chicago North Side Collaborative will help increase health care equity for lower-income and BIPOC residents in the area – particularly in the LGBTQ and Asian American communities.

“This initiative should help provide more 7th District residents with a pathway to specialty care who otherwise have been very poorly served by our healthcare system,” said State Senator Mike Simmons, who represents much of the collaborative’s coverage area. “This collaborative is intended to help ensure more residents get the full scope of care that they need. I look forward to seeing how these partnerships work over the coming months and years to start closing the gaps in access to specialty care for our residents who need much better and more comprehensive treatment than they have received.”

Read more ...

Category: Press Releases

Dear Friend,

I hope everyone had a wonderful Pride month. This one was particularly special for me. I've been celebrating Pride for years as a private citizen, but this year was the first time I celebrated it as Illinois' first openly gay state senator. It was a huge honor and I'm honored to have experienced it at such a historic time.

Below, I've included some pictures from events I attended in celebration of Pride month, as well as a few other events I took part in. There is also information about some resources you can use. Keep reading for more.

Sincerely,

simmons sig

Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th District

Important News and Resources

Upcoming Road Projects

idot1

I recently announced a new round of road improvements I've secured for our streets in the 7th District. Over the next several weeks, construction is scheduled to begin.

The following projects are expected to begin later this month:

  • Pavement preservation on Peterson Ave. between Lincoln Ave. and Ridge Ave.
  • Pavement preservation on Foster Ave. between Ashland Ave. and Lake Shore Drive

We will keep you informed of the dates when road work will begin.

There are also several other road projects currently in progress:

  • Street Resurfacing on Clark St. between Lawrence Ave. and Ashland Ave.
  • Street Resurfacing on Lawrence Ave. between Broadway Ave. and Lakeshore Drive
  • Street Resurfacing on Jersey Ave./Kedzie Ave. between Lincoln Ave. and Foster Ave.

Be sure to check this newsletter every week for information on specific dates.

Rental Assistance

rent

The Illinois Rental Payment Program is now open for tenants! You could be eligible for $25,000 or 15 months of rental assistance. Tenants have until July 18 to initiate an application. Apply at ILRPP.IHDA.org, or call the hotline for assistance: 1-866-454-3571.

Fee-based license suspensions end TODAY

license

Starting today, Illinois will no longer suspend a license for any ticket debt, fines or fees, including parking tickets, red-light camera tickets and abandoned vehicle fees. If your license is currently suspended or revoked due to a failure to pay a fee, it will be reinstated automatically for free by July 1. However, if there were multiple reasons for the hold on your record, your license may still be invalid. Call the secretary of state’s hotline at 217-212-6212 to check.

Senator Simmons in the District

Pride Month Reflection Press Conference

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I organized and hosted a Pride Month Reflection press conference at Gerber/Hart Library and Archives. I was joined by several LGBTQIA advocates who gave their perspective on what we have achieved and what we still have left to do. You can watch the full press conference here.

Pride North

pride north

I attended the Pride North celebration in Rogers Park. It was a great opportunity to meet with area residents and discuss LGBTQIA issues and what I'm doing to fight for them.

Pride Without Prejudice

pride wo prej

I was proud to take part in the Pride without Prejudice March. Pride Month is and always has been rooted in activism and organizing. There is no place I would rather be than in the community pushing for progress and justice. A huge thank you to all the organizers and protesters for their love for the queer community and for fighting for the lives of the black-trans community.

Nobody's Darling opening

nobodys darling

I was honored to be invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony of a new, Black-woman-owned, queer-friendly cocktail bar that opened last week in Andersonville. We need more places like this, which can be welcoming spaces for LGBTQIA folks who might not have anywhere else to go.

Town Hall with Rep. Kelly Cassidy

townhall

I hosted a town hall with Rep. Kelly Cassidy discussing what we accomplished during our successful spring 2021 legislative session in Springfield. It's always great to have a chance to speak directly with the people we represent to get a first-hand sense of how we can better serve them. You can view the full town hall here.

Highland Hop

highland hop

I attended a meet and greet with neighbors in Edgewater. It was a very informal gathering of about 50 people that took place in a front yard. We chatted, had some laughs, and got to know each other. I had a great time meeting everyone who came!

Art and Pep interview

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I filmed an interview segment for the documentary Art and Pep, which tells the story of up-and-coming LGBTQIA activists in and around the Chicago area. It was a great honor to be featured!

Family Matters tour

familymatters

I toured the Family Matters facility, which is an incredible organization that provides a safe place after school for kids who have experienced trauma. It was great meeting the amazing folks who work at Family Matters to provide critical support to the kids in our city who need it this most. You can read more about Family Matters on their website.

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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