General Updates from Senator Mike Simmons

Greetings 7th District residents! I wanted to touch base with you to provide a recap of the last couple weeks or so. First, I’d like to cover a couple new initiatives we’ve rolled out or resumed that should be good for our district. On Saturday, Nov. 12th my team and I rolled out our new constituent services program where we will go out into the district and doorknock to introduce ourselves to constituents, educate them on what our office can do for them, and find ways to help constituents with state resources.


So many people don’t have a clear sense of what the state legislature can do, or need help and have no idea where to start, so I am happy we are proactively taking state government to the people. Our inaugural doorknock was done in the Budlong Woods section of our district, which is located in Lincoln Square near where I grew up.

We also continued the 7th District people’s legislative council initiative, a participatory space where we organically convene constituents across the district who reflect particular lived experiences that are amplified and shape legislation I introduce. The child tax credit legislation I introduced last year came out of the legislative councils with single mothers, and on Wednesday, November 9th we convened residents of our district who are survivors of gun violence. We had participants from Uptown, Ravenswood, Roger Park, and Edgewater in the room.


I am so thankful for each participant for sharing their experiences with gun violence, and working with me to help advocate for legislation such as a statewide ban on assault weapons, and other sensible gun laws. We will resume with future legislative councils for people living with disabilities in early 2023. If you’d like to participate, please call my office at 773-769-1717.

The veto session is upon us, and we are expecting to take up a handful of trailer bills to existing legislation. See below under legislative updates for some highlights from the first week of the veto session.

Lastly, we will be holding a Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, December 6th at 6:30 p.m. I thoroughly enjoy opening up government and policymaking to our constituents, and invite you to join us as I provide general legislative and community updates, and take questions from residents.

As always, my office is available at 773-769-1717 if we can be of assistance. Read on for legislative updates, community recaps, and for a list of helpful resources.

 

Sincerely,

Mike Simmons

State Senator | 7th District

Legislative Updates

Native American Summit

In Springfield, I had the opportunity to proudly stand with members of the Native American community, including constituents from our district, as they advocated for creation of a statewide Indigenous People's Day, the inclusion of education on Native American history in schools, as well as for support of Senate Bill 4242 which allows Native American regalia at high school graduations. To our Native American communities in our district, we see you and will stand with you in this urgent work.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons greets a member of the Chicago American Indian Community Collaborative at the Native American Summit in Springfield.

Senate Bill 828 Can’t Wait: Lobby Day Rally

I am the chief sponsor of a bill in the Senate, SB828, that would restore the right to vote for nearly 30,000 incarcerated people in Illinois. This is a human rights issue, and I am proud to stand with Chicago Votes and a myriad of advocacy organizations that organized a lobby day last week in support of this bill. We will continue advocating for passage of this legislation.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons addresses a crowd at the Lobby Day Rally in Springfield for Senate Bill 828.

Pretrial Fairness Act

The Pretrial Fairness Act is a monumental step forward in the fight for racial justice that our grandchildren will read about and know we were on the right side of history. I was deeply moved to join hundreds of activists and community members from all across Illinois, including many constituents from our district, who showed up at the State Capitol to protect the Pretrial Fairness Act. No one should be kept locked up because they are poor or allowed to walk free because they are rich.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons smiles with members of The People’s Lobby who have fought tirelessly in support of the Pretrial Fairness Act.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons speaks to Cassandra Greer-Lee who lost her husband, Nickolas Lee, to the COVID-19 virus while incarcerated at Cook County Jail.

Diversity Week at DePaul

I had the pleasure of speaking with the DePaul Student Bar Association, and OUTLaws, an LGBTQ+ organization on campus. I took the opportunity to share about my lived experiences as the first black person to serve the 7th District, the first openly gay member of the Illinois Senate, and the third openly gay, Black State Senator in the Nation.


We discussed why authenticity is important in local government, how to sincerely address advocacy and inclusion, upcoming legislation, and what active allyship for our LGBTQ+ communities looks like. When asked what gives me hope, I was honest. Sometimes it's hard, but at the end of the day, I draw hope from the people in our community. Every day, people show up to fight for their survival and to advocate for their rights and liberties in the face of sweeping injustice, and it is my responsibility to represent them with integrity.


Thank you to everyone who arranged this meeting. I am encouraged by your engagement and look forward to continuing the hard work of advocating for and implementing legislation that protects and furthers equal rights for all.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons with the Student Bar Association of DePaul University for Diversity Week.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons with OUTLaws, an LGBTQ+ organization at DePaul University for Diversity Week.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons and Emad Mahou, DePaul University Staff Council Member and Chair of Staff Resources Committee, as he shares his lived experiences with DePaul University Diversity Week attendees.

Susan G. Komen’s "Stand Up, Speak Up" Training

I enjoyed keynoting a health care policy roundtable convened by the Susan G. Komen organization with advocates — including breast cancer survivors, physicians, policy experts, and organizers. I talked about my health care legislative accomplishments in my first term so far, and the urgency of addressing health disparities suffered by black women. I discussed how one of my top three legislative goals for 2023 is to fight for universal health insurance for all, while shoring up the system so we can prioritize tackling inequities at the hospital, clinic, and community level and better position health care workers and staff to do this work successfully and with dignity. Dr. King said about health injustice that, “of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.” I believe passionately that this is the work we must do in the next few years so lives are saved and communities can be whole.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons speaks to survivors of breast cancer at the Susan G. Komen "Stand Up, Speak Up" event and addresses how his role as a legislator can help address health care inequities.

People's Legislative Council

In an effort to proactively connect with 7th District individuals affected by gun violence and shape future legislation, my district office held a People’s Legislative Council on gun violence earlier this month. Hearing directly from 7th District community members who have directly been impacted by gun violence was incredibly moving, and their experiences are not taken lightly. I have and will continue to be aggressive on pursuing gun control legislation, and strongly support a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines at the state and federal level. I am a cosponsor of Senate Bill 2510, which would ban assault weapons in Illinois, and was chief cosponsor of House Bill 4383, a bill signed into law in April that requires all guns to be serialized.


As we move into 2023, my office will hold ongoing People’s Legislative Councils focused on my top priorities. The councils are so important - they bring people together with shared experiences, connect me directly with what is happening in the 7th District, and provide context for shaping future legislation.
 

Image: Senator Mike Simmons listens to the concerns of 7th District constituents who have lost a loved one to gun violence or have experienced gun violence firsthand.

Community Updates

Halloween in the 7th District

Last month, I had the great pleasure of celebrating Halloween all throughout the 7th District. Dead on Damen in Rogers Park is a wonderful Halloween event that I was proud to sponsor this year. Community members open up their gates and invite their neighbors inside for an up close walk through, while passing out candy, food, and other treats. Everyone got a chance to enjoy hot cider, chili, hotdogs, chips, juice drinks and of course, CANDY! All free of charge.

Our office popped-up at Fright Night at Northcenter, and had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with our constituents while participating in the mummy wrap competition. I would like to thank the North Center Neighbors Association and Alderman Matt Martin for coordinating Fright Night for so many kiddos who live in our district.

Next, I got to walk in the 10th Annual 48th Ward Halloween Parade, which kicked off at Peirce Elementary School. It was wonderful to meet constituents as we safely walked through residential streets, enjoying costumes and the warm weather! Then we headed to the corner of Clark and Catalpa, where the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce held its Halloween celebration, featuring free candy, pumpkins, games, and spotlighted local small businesses. Bravo to everyone’s costumes!

Last but certainly not least, I visited a pop-up Halloween event, “Treats No Tricks,” hosted by the Greater Ravenwood Chamber of Commerce in the Ainslie Arts Plaza in Lincoln Square. I met amazing artisans with amazing stories, who featured beautiful hand-made jewelry, woodwork, and skin care products.
 

Image: Senator Mike Simmons smiles with a family attending Fright Night at Northcenter Town Square.

Image: Dead on Damen in Rogers Park was an incredible example of neighbors coming together. Thank you for inviting me as a sponsor!

Image: Senator Mike Simmons celebrates Halloween with a family in Rogers Park.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons participates in the 10th Annual 48th Ward Halloween Parade. It was great to experience walking down the streets safely as we celebrated together!

Image: Senator Mike Simmons and the owners and creators of Macramen Tadas, a small business vendor offering hand-crafted jewelry, sculpture, and even the display cases at the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce Halloween pop-up event.

Axum Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

I was thrilled to participate in a ribbon cutting for the newest Ethiopian restaurant in our district, Axum, located in Edgewater near Broadway and Ardmore! Congratulations to Yared and the wonderful restaurant staff here. As Illinois’ first Ethiopian-American senator, I’m extra proud to welcome you to our community. Wishing you much success!

Image: Alongside owners and staff, Senator Mike Simmons celebrates Axum's ribbon cutting ceremony with 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman and the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce.

Greektober Fest

Thank you to St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and Cultural Center in Lincoln Square for welcoming me to your Greektober Fest celebration! Having grown up a block away, I was especially proud to visit and spend time with your community. Special thanks to Father Andrew Georganas and Zach Bazianos for organizing this wonderful event for the community. Happy Greektober Fest to the Greek community across our district!

Image: Senator Mike Simmons smiles with Father Andrew Georganas and members of the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.

Ethiopian Community Association’s 38th Annual Gala

What a wonderful time at the Ethiopian Community Association’s 38th Annual Gala! This organization is based in the 7th District in West Ridge, and serves immigrants and refugees from all backgrounds. I enjoyed attending, chatting with the community, and speaking about how grateful I am that folks helped my family when they arrived in America the same way folks in our community are helping new refugees arriving in our region today from places like Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ukraine, and of course Ethiopia. Thank you to Executive Director Aklilu Adeye, the board of directors, and the program staff and extensive network of selfless volunteers from all ethnic backgrounds many of whom live in our district. You all do such important work. Thank you also to the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center, also based in our district, for providing space for the gala.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons smiles with Ethiopian Community Association’s 38th Annual Gala youth attendees.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons smiles with Ethiopian Community Association’s 38th Annual Gala attendees.

Centro Romero's 38th Annual Gala

Had a wonderful time joining the community at Centro Romero’s 38th Annual Gala this week! I appreciate the work this organization does in our district to empower Latinx residents, immigrants, and refugees. Centro Romero is doing so much — ensuring migrants secure housing and health care to helping refugees secure legal services and adult education classes, domestic violence counseling, and helping folks take the first steps to learning English and countless other services. I spoke at the gala observing how I know firsthand how critical their work is in our district and how I have already and will continue supporting Centro Romero’s work. Also, special shout-out to the General Counsels of El Salvador and Guatemala who both were in attendance and who I had the honor of meeting. I look forward to continuing to stand with and support Centro Romero and all the constituents they serve here in the 7th District as we continue to lift up and represent the diverse Latinx communities from all over Central and South America living across our district!

Image: Senator Mike Simmons poses with Centro Romero’s Annual 38th Gala attendees.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons engages the crowd at the Centro Romero 38th Annual Gala.

Andersonville Eco-Smash

I had so much fun at the pumpkin composting event in Edgewater! Thank you to the Edgewater Environmental Coalition, Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, and other community leaders and organizations who hosted this wonderful event!

Image: Senator Mike Simmons helps compost pumpkins in Edgewater.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons smiles while composting pumpkins in Edgewater.

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Last week, I stood with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights where I alongside 12 of my colleagues signed a pledge to support sweeping legislation that protects and advances rights for immigrant and refugee communities. ICIRR fights the good fights and I was so proud to stand with them as a son of an Ethiopian refugee myself. Thank you to ICIRR for starting us off on a strong foot for the upcoming session by identifying our policy priorities early on behalf of our diverse immigrant and refugee communities.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons stands in solidarity with ICIRR alongside colleagues.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons smiles with State Representative Delia Ramirez and Centro Romero staff.

Roger C. Sullivan High School Gymnasium Dedication

Big Congratulations to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky on the Roger C. Sullivan High School gymnasium dedication! We are so grateful for your dedication and legacy to our community and our neighborhood schools. This monumental moment will be remembered by many more generations of Tigers to come!

Image: Senator Mike Simmons celebrates the Roger C. Sullivan High School Gymnasium Dedication with Rep. Kelly Cassidy, 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden, and other members of the community.

Gale Elementary Community Academy Centennial

Congratulations to Gale Elementary Community Academy on your Centennial 100th Birthday! I was humbled to join your celebration and witness the profound pride the students, parents, teachers, staff, alumni, and community members have in this school! You give me inspiration and I will always be there for the Gale community and all our 7th District schools! To another 100 years! Keep flying high!

Image: Senator Mike Simmons connects with the Gale Elementary Community Academy slogan “we fly high.”

Image: Senator Mike Simmons addresses the audience with State Representative Kelly Cassidy and 49th Ward Alderwoman Maria Hadden.

Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience

In honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience, I participated in a panel this past weekend on the west side of Chicago organized by three trans-led organizations, Chicago Therapy Collective, Brave Space Alliance, and Life is Work. Through the lens of shaping solutions for a new era of trans justice in Chicago, we came together to discuss housing, employment, justice, and safety.

Image: Senator Mike Simmons joins the Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience panel.

Community Resources

SAFE2HELP offers support to students

Launched a year ago by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Safe2Help Illinois is a free, information sharing platform that is available 24/7. In the absence of a trusted adult, students can use a free app, text/phone, or the website to share school safety issues in a confidential environment.


There are several ways that students from kindergarten through high school can reach out to Safe2Help:

  • Call 1-844-4SAFEIL (723345)
  • Text SAFE2 (72332)
  • Online at https://app.safe22helpil.com/
  • Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Download the Safe2HelpIL app

Help is available for substance abuse

www.StartYourRecovery.org was developed by bringing together substance use disorder treatment experts from leading non-profit, academic, and government institutions. Through this resource, individuals can hear stories from people with similar experiences, discover the answers they need for recognizing and dealing with substance use disorder, and locate support.

Avoiding student loan debt relief scams

As has been widely reported, a plan is underway for a one-time opportunity for relief on most forms of federal student loan debt. Under the plan, borrowers with loans held by the Department are eligible for up to $20,000 in relief to Federal Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 in debt relief to non-Pell Grant recipients if their individual income is less than $125,000 or $250,000 for households. The Federal Student Aid division of the U.S. Department of Education has shared its resource page on avoiding scams.

Building successful Disadvantaged Business Enterprise firms

The Illinois Department of Transportation is hosting free virtual workshops as part of its continuing Building Blocks of Success series for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise firms interested in strengthening their skills, growing their business and bidding on state projects. New and existing DBEs, as well as firms interested in becoming certified in the program, are invited to register and attend virtually:

  • Nov. 29, 10 a.m. to noon: QuickBooks Part 2 – Performing Day to Day, Part 2
  • Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to noon: How to Do Business with IDOT
  • Dec. 6, 10 a.m. to noon: QuickBooks Part 3 - Reporting
  • Dec. 8, 10 a.m. to noon: Insurance, Bonding, & Risk Management for Construction Firms
  • Dec. 13, 10 a.m. to noon: How to Develop a Strategic Plan

Illinois State Fire Marshal Small Equipment Grant Program

Most Illinois fire departments, fire protection districts and township fire departments, as well as not-for-profit ambulance services, are eligible to apply for a grant of up to $26,000 for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment. $1.5 million total is up for grabs. Applications are due Nov. 30, 2022: HERE.

Connect Illinois Broadband Grant Program

Broadband access is critical for homes, businesses and community institutions, which is why Connect Illinois is looking to close the digital gap. Applications for the broadband grant program should be classified under one of three categories: Broadband Access in underserved areas; Broadband Innovation for economic development; or Urban Broadband for expanded access. $350 million total is available with a maximum grant size of $10 million. Applications are accepted through 2024, or until funds are depleted: HERE.

IEPA Lead Service Line Grant Program

The Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act requires owners and operators of community water supplies to deliver a complete water service line material inventory to the Illinois EPA no later than April 15, 2024. The complete inventory must report the composition of all service lines within the community’s distribution system. This opportunity provides funding for local units of government to assist in that inventory and ranges from $20,000-50,000. Applications are accepted through Dec. 2, 2022: HERE.

Illinois Travel and Tourism Grant Program

This grant provides funding for promotional efforts to attract visitors to destinations, attractions, and events throughout Illinois. The grant supports costs including media production, billboards, brochures, web development and trade show registration. Nearly $3 million is up for grabs with grants ranging from $10,000-100,000. Applications are accepted through Dec. 12, 2022: HERE.

Illinois residents that purchase a new or used all-electric vehicle from an Illinois licensed dealer will be eligible for an Illinois' Electric Vehicle Rebate:

  • A $4,000 rebate for the purchase of an all-electric vehicle that is not an electric motorcycle.
     
  • A $1,500 rebate for the purchase of an all-electric motorcycle.
     

 Purchasers must apply for the rebate during an open rebate cycle and within 90-days of vehicle purchase. Application forms must be postmarked no later than Jan. 31, 2023. Learn more and apply: HERE.

Upcoming Events

Save the Date: 7th District Senator Simmons Virtual Town Hall, Tuesday, December 6

Be sure to join me Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. for a Virtual Town Hall meeting. This will be a wonderful opportunity for constituents in the 7th District to interact with me as I address key issues and goals I am determined to fight for, and how they support the community. This will also be a chance for me to directly hear from you and listen to all concerns and questions you may have. I look forward to having you join me!

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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