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

In his first 100 days, Senator Simmons has sponsored or cosponsored more than 100 pieces of legislation, resolved over 100 constituent casework requests, and answered more than 500 letters, phone calls, and email messages from 7th district constituents  

Mike Simmons HeadshotSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) marked his 100th day serving and representing the 7th District of Illinois on May 18, 2021. Simmons has sponsored or cosponsored 100 pieces of legislation and passed three of his introduced bills, including SB 817, SB 2133, and SB 828.

Beginning his career during the peak legislative period, Simmons connects with the district daily. He has met with 253 community organizations and prioritized over 700 constituent requests via email, mail, and phone. In April, he hosted two vaccine clinics delivering 200 vaccines to residents. Senator Simmons prepared a 100 days briefing video for his constituents.

Senator Simmons prioritizes equity and systemic change while in Springfield.

“There is still so much work to do to ensure that diversity, accountability, and progressive policy are not the exceptions, but the rule, in Springfield,” Simmons said.

He is co-sponsoring significant reforms such as the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Repeal Parental Notification of Abortion, and multiple measures protecting BIPOC communities. Simmons is a member of the Senate Progressive Caucus, Senate Black Caucus, and the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus.

Simmons was sworn in to serve in the 7th Illinois Senate District, trailblazing as the first Black person to serve the 7th Senate District and the first openly gay member of the Illinois Senate.

In the next 100 days, Simmons will build focus groups, or People’s Councils, to listen to constituents and build his 2022 legislative agenda.

“In the days ahead, I hope to invite more of my constituents to have greater opportunities to be a part of that process by making their stories and their voices heard,” Simmons said.

The councils will focus on health care access, income inequality, supporting single mothers, and affordable housing.

More information on Senator Simmons’ accomplishments and plans is available here.

 

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Category: Press Releases

2021.05.12 Simmons Hair bill passes senateSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Simmons’ (D-Chicago) legislation to end the practice of discriminating against students’ hairstyles in schools passed the Illinois Senate Wednesday afternoon.

“We took a major step forward today in passing this bill out of the Senate and sent a message to our young people that we see them and respect them for who they are. Black youth in particular have endured decades of systemic discrimination targeting their hairstyles in schools, and it’s time to turn the page on that history. I thank my colleagues for supporting the bill,” Simmons said. 

Senate Bill 817 applies to all public, private and charter schools in the State. The bill prohibits schools from issuing policies or including any language in handbooks about hairstyles traditionally associated with race and ethnicity including braids, dreadlocks, and protective hairstyles. This makes our schools safe spaces for black youth to show up and learn authentically and be who they are. 

Simmons, who wears his hair in natural free form locs, said he’s been on the receiving end of school rules policing his personal appearance. 

“I understand what this feels like personally,” Simmons said. “I urge the House to approve this legislation and join the Senate in ensuring that the next generation doesn’t have to go through this.

Category: Press Releases

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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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