Mike Simmons HeadshotSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Simmons’ (D-Chicago) plan to prohibit schools from issuing rules that discriminate against hairstyles historically associated with race, ethnicity or hair texture cleared the Illinois House today.

Simmons sponsored Senate Bill 817, now known as the Jett Hawkins Act, after hearing 4-year-old Jett Hawkins was sent home from school in March for having braids that violated the dress code of his school, Providence-St. Mel School. 

“I know all too well the feeling that comes with being singled out by one’s school for proudly wearing hair that’s true to myself and my culture,” Simmons said Thursday after the legislation passed the House. “This came about because Jett and his mother stood up and spoke out about the harm these policies do. I thank them for their resolve.”

The Jett Hawkins Act passed the House 89-22 Thursday. It awaits a final confirmation vote in the Senate to pass the General Assembly.

Category: Press Releases

Mike Simmons HeadshotSPRINGFIELD – An antiquated part of the criminal code that penalizes Illinoisans living with human immunodeficiency virus would be repealed under a measure co-sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago), which cleared its final vote in the General Assembly Tuesday.

“The law this measure repeals is a relic of homophobia,” Simmons said. “HIV is an illness that must be treated, not stigmatized. The Senate did the right thing today by passing this measure, and I urge Gov. Pritzker to act quickly to sign it.”

House Bill 1063 repeals the portion of the criminal code that gives prosecutors the ability to charge people living with HIV with a Class 2 Felony for having consensual sex, sharing needles, or donating organs or bodily tissues and fluids. HIV is currently the only communicable disease subject to such criminalization.

“The fact that no other condition is treated this way under the law should tell everyone all they need to know about the motivations behind criminalizing HIV positivity,” Simmons said. 

The Senate passed House Bill 1063 on Tuesday. It awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

Category: Press Releases

052120210142SPRINGFIELD – The House Education Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee on School Curriculum and Policies amended and passed Senate Bill 817, now known as the Jett Hawkins Act. This bill, sponsored by Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) and carried in the House by Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago), ensures public, private, and charter schools cannot prohibit hairstyles historically associated with race, ethnicity, or hair texture.

This bill was inspired by the events of March 3, when 4-year-old Jett Hawkins was sent home from school for having braids that violated Providence-St. Mel School’s dress code. 

“This bill is about really putting into practice the things we say we believe and the values we espouse,” said Majority Leader Greg Harris. “If you wish to receive benefits from the state, you should agree not to discriminate unfairly against African-American youth because of their hairstyle.” 

Jett’s mother, Ida Nelson, testified before the committee.

“These policies skew their perceptions of self and create a feeling that something about them needs to be fixed,” Nelson said. “It is up to all of us adults to protect children, regardless of their phenotype, from any threat to their mental or emotional wellbeing.”

Lauren Leggett, a student at Providence St. Mel, also testified before the committee to share her experience and the dress code policy’s impact on students’ mental health. She said discriminatory policies like these make students feel like a detriment to society.

“That is the biggest distraction to our education,” Lauren said. “By supporting this bill, you are eliminating a lot of barriers Black children have to face before they even enter into the workforce and supporting them on that journey.”

The Jett Hawkins Act passed the committee with a 15-3 vote and will be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives. Senator Mike Simmons sponsored SB 817 in the Senate, where it passed 40-13.

Category: Press Releases

Simmons 5 21CHICAGO – State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) announced Friday that $2.5 million in construction projects in the 7th Illinois Senate District will improve roads and make accessibility improvements as part of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s multi-year construction plan.

“These projects represent some much-needed improvements to major arterial streets in the 7th District,” Simmons said. “These improvements will upgrade our roads, make sure the streets and sidewalks are accessible for pedestrians and people living with disabilities, and generate good jobs at the same time.”

The projects will improve 1.8 miles of U.S. 14 between U.S. 41 and Ridge Avenue, and a mile of U.S. 41 from Ashland to Lake Shore Drive. The funding is part of the $20 billion Rebuild Illinois construction plan’s 2022 slate of construction. 

A further $2 million has been slated for later years, intended for pedestrian improvements to Ridge Boulevard from Howard Street to south of Pratt Boulevard.

For more details about the projects in the 7th District, click here.

Category: Press Releases

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District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 769-1717

Springfield Office:
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M115 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8492

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