Dear Neighbors,

The last couple of weeks have gone by fast. I’ve kept up the good fight to outlaw book banning in school curriculum. First, I went on CAN-TV last week and participated in an in-depth panel discussion on book banning with a writer-poet, several American Library Association staff and the Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library. You can watch the segment below.

Additionally, I attended a roundtable with the Illinois Library Association’s North Suburban and Chicago Libraries to discuss overall legislation important to libraries across Illinois. I was honored to join and represent our district, and share remarks about my efforts to outlaw curriculum book bans across Illinois along with my legislative anti-book banning work last spring. I also attended an elementary school this week where I discussed book banning with 5th graders! They gave me some new book titles to add to my queue this holiday break!

Lastly, I won an award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois yesterday for my legislative work in defending and protecting human and civil rights – specifically regarding my new law requiring child welfare agencies to use preferred pronouns of youth in their agencies.

I also organized and hosted a first of its kind job fair for returning residents at Truman College last week. It was a high point in my time in the Senate to see this come together so seamlessly thanks to the hard work of my district office staff. Check out the photos and recap of this awesome and inspiring district event below. We will be offering ongoing support for returning residents and those who are looking for jobs.

I’ve been out and about in the district attending two Hanukkah Menorah lightings, a small business town-hall hosted last week by Representative Hoan Huynh, a Midwest Legislators Roundtable on Biofuels, a meeting at my district office with CEO, Tracy Scott, of the Chicago Housing Authority and several constituent meetings. I love representing all of our neighbors in the 7th District and want to say thank you again for your confidence in me and my staff.

Read on for legislative updates, photo recaps from community meetings and events, and awesome resources for constituents toward the end!

Sincerely,
Mike Simmons

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State Senator | 7th District


 Simmons Receives ACLU of Illinois Legislator Award

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Caption: Senator Mike Simmons and Senator Lakesia Collins receive the ACLU Illinois Legislator Award recognizing their overall commitment to defending human rights and protecting civil liberties alongside ACLU Director of Systems Reform Policy, Nora Collins-Mandeville.

I was proud to receive the ACLU of Illinois Legislator Award alongside Senator Lakesia Collins and several of my colleagues who have championed legislation that defends human rights and protects our civil liberties. I was recognized for my work in securing passage of House Bill 1596, which requires inclusive language in pre-existing state laws requiring child welfare agencies to honor, respect and use the preferred pronouns of children within their care and systems. This is a necessary and long overdue step in protecting the dignity and wellbeing of young people who have already been failed countless times by broken systems for decades. Thank you ACLU for this honor! I look forward to continuing the fight for human rights for all.

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Category: Newsletters

General Updates from Senator Mike Simmons

Dear Neighbors,

It’s been a glorious whirlwind of a few weeks. I am back in the district after the veto session, and continue to be out in the district meeting constituents where they’re at. Read on for a recap of the fall veto session and highlights from some noteworthy recent community meetings.

It continues to be a huge privilege and honor of a lifetime to serve our district as your state Senator, lifting up our people across the far north side and fighting for their rights and livelihoods. Thank you. Or as we say in Amharic, “Ameseh Ghenalou!”

Sincerely,
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Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th District


Legislative Updates

Important Updates from Veto Session

SimmonsLegislativeUpdatesCaption: Senator Mike Simmons addresses colleagues on the Senate floor in Springfield.

The General Assembly returned to Springfield this month to take up legislation vetoed by the governor. Below are a few key updates.

Nuclear energy moratorium ends

Currently, Illinois has 11 nuclear power reactors operating at six sites, which collectively produce about half of the state’s electricity. Out of a sense of concern, I voted against House Bill 2473, which was in response to the governor’s veto of legislation to lift the moratorium on nuclear energy in Illinois. We need to prioritize safety and environmental concerns and think more critically about long-term solutions, rather than quick fixes with long-term consequences. House Bill 2473 passed both houses and heads to the governor for further consideration.

Karina’s Bill

Thank you to the countless number of you who have written and called me urging support for Karina’s Bill, desperately needed legislation that is rooted in the safety of survivors and victims of domestic violence. Named after Karina Gonzalez, a survivor of domestic violence who was fatally shot by her husband along with her daughter this past summer in Chicago, “Karina’s Bill” would require judges to issue a seizure order along with orders of protection, while also mandating that law enforcement serve those orders and seize weapons from a domestic abuser within 48 hours. I am a strong supporter of Karina’s Bill, and released a statement urging support of Senate Bill 2633 to protect survivors of domestic violence from guns. I hope to see this survivor-first policy pushed through to the legislative finish line ASAP.

Read more ...

Category: Newsletters

Hello Neighbors!

We are in the midst of the fall veto legislative session. I am working to secure final passage of my Senate Bill 689 that prohibits schools from banning books in classrooms and school curricula. It also outlaws book banning in privately funded libraries or those not receiving state grants. As a recap, my bill cleared the Senate in the spring and awaits approval in the House. The Yorkville Board of Education banned “Just Mercy''' in August, and we are seeing more people running for school boards in the suburbs on an explicit agenda to ban books by and about LGBTQ+ and Black communities. My bill includes specific protections for these categories and other top targeted categories across states including race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, religion and faith background, reproductive health, sexual health, memoirs and autobiographies. This issue affects many people in our community, and these protections are central to our democracy.

102523CM1077Caption: Members of the Illinois Senate, including Senator Mike Simmons on the left, wear pink last Wednesday in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Last week, the Senate passed a bill that requires school districts and other state-run facilities to contract with vendors to provide kosher and halal food options. I strongly supported the original bill in the spring and am glad to see Senate Bill 457 move forward with the support of stakeholders and the governor.

Concerning energy policy, I voted “no” last spring on House Bill 3445, which passed the Senate and would grant downstate electric utilities – notably Ameren Illinois – the “right of first refusal” for transmission line construction, allowing them a near monopoly on projects. I was glad the governor vetoed it. It was confirmed last week that the House will not move to override the veto this fall session.

Read on for key updates, including an upcoming event for seniors this Friday, my recent visit to the National Public Housing Museum, two awards I was honored to receive for public service, and a recap of recent noteworthy events.

Sincerely,
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Senator Mike Simmons
7th Senate District



Upcoming District Event


Advocacy and Fraud Protection for Seniors Workshop

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CALLING ALL SENIORS! Join me and the Attorney General’s Office this Friday, Nov. 3 from 10 - 11 a.m. at the All Saints Episcopal Church located at 4550 N. Hermitage Ave. (near Wilson and Ashland) as we partner up to host an “Advocacy and Fraud Protection for Seniors Workshop.”

I care deeply about the safety and well-being of our seniors and want to make sure we are providing seniors in our community with the necessary tools and resources for fraud prevention and protection. If you have questions or need more information call our district office or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



To read my full newsletter, click here.

Category: Newsletters

General Updates from Senator Mike Simmons

Dear Neighbor,

I wanted to fire off a special edition newsletter with some new and interesting content. First, I had the chance to do an in-depth interview about my 7th District youth-inspired legislation that will soon create the first statewide youth mental health policy council. See the link to the full interview below.

I also participated in a sprawling and in-depth Chicago Tribune series profiling Illinois’s prominent role in the Underground Railroad. I think it is compelling that so many brave and courageous souls fled slavery and found their way to freedom right through many of our rivers, forests, and backcountry roads throughout Illinois. A branch of my own family on my mom’s side was living in Michigan as early as 1846, and very likely participated in the Underground Railroad. See below for the link to the story.

Lastly, you’ll see a graphic below for our next traveling office hours event at Senn High School on Oct. 3rd. This time we will be curating the townhall for 7th District youth! Enjoy the newsletter and have a safe and fun weekend!

Sincerely,

Mike Simmons

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State Senator | 7th District


 

Senator Simmons Discusses Youth Mental Health in Illinois with Outside the Loop Radio

outsidetheloopCaption: Senator Simmons is interviewed by Outside the Loop Radio to discuss youth mental health.

I recently took an interview with Mike Stephen of Outside the Loop to discuss youth mental health in Illinois and my legislation, which requires schools to instruct on how and where youth can access mental health resources. The new law also establishes a soon to debut, first of its kind statewide Student Mental Health Council which will include 14-25 years olds who are queer, black and brown, and others who have been underrepresented in discussions at the State Capitol around how to improve access to mental health.

To listen to the full interview, click here (my segment begins at 16:05.)


Underground Railroad Task Force and Keeping the Legacy of Freedom Seekers Relevant and Present
by Darcel Rockett of the Chicago Tribune

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Caption: Clockwise from top left: The Antioch Baptist Church in Venice, Chicago's Finest Marina in Chicago, the Second Reading Book Shop in Alton and The Gillett House in Jacksonville are all Underground Railroad sites in Illinois. Photographs were made using an iPhone tintype filter. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

‘State Sen. Mike Simmons, a North Side Democrat, said that having recognition of the Underground Railroad, specifically Illinois’ prominence in the Underground Railroad is long overdue. As someone who has branches of his family tree in Michigan as early as 1846, Simmons said his ancestors probably used the Underground Railroad network.


“It’s a fascinating point of reflection that Black Americans found a way out of slavery before emancipation through the backcountry and waterways and swamps and thick forests and hostile terrains of several American states largely of their own agency,” Simmons said.’

 


Recognition of the Underground Railroad and Illinois’ prominence in that history is long overdue. It was a deep and profound joy to personally contribute to Darcel Rockett’s incredible Chicago Tribune article which brings attention to the untold stories of Black communities and freedom seekers and allies in Illinois who shaped and established the local networks of the Underground Railroad in the 1800s.

On my maternal side, I personally can trace back my own family’s lineage to 1846 when a branch of my Black-American ancestors were already living in Michigan. They were undoubtedly a part of the Underground Railroad that ran through Illinois and Michigan and several surrounding states. It is incredible to fully honor and recognize this important history in Illinois. In a significant step in honoring our history, I am proud to have co-led passage of SB1623 into law, which will create a task force to develop a statewide plan to connect existing local projects and new projects to create a cohesive statewide history of the Underground Railroad in Illinois, and create new educational opportunities. We all must keep our collective history alive, especially in the current climate where a movement has grown to erase black history and other communities’ American stories.

7th District Ties to Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad in Illinois has direct ties to the 7th District, with Graceland Cemetery at 4001 N. Clark St. in Lakeview being the final resting place for at least 29 Underground Railroad activists. Accompanying her article on freedom seekers, Darcel Rockett compiled a list of Illinois Underground Railroad historic sites, specifically highlighting Graceland Cemetery, which you can read here.

In 2021, the National Parks Service added Graceland Cemetery to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. To read about their legacies, please visit gracelandcemetery.org/underground-railroad-activists.

Calling All Youth:
Traveling Office Hours at Senn High School

TOH

Calling all youth! Join me and my office on Tuesday, October 3 from 4-5PM at Senn High School and make your voices heard at our Traveling Office Hours event. Whether you’re in elementary, junior high, or high school, we want to hear from you about your concerns, questions, and ideas. Your voice is so important and deserves to help shape the future of government in Illinois. See you there!


Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter! If you ever want to reach out to our office, please call us at 773-769-1717 and we will respond promptly. We can also be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Category: Newsletters

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Office Info

District Office
1040 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 769-1717 (Phone)
(773) 945-9979 (Text)

Springfield Office:
Senator 7th District
Stratton Building
Section F, Office G
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8492

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