General Updates from Senator Mike Simmons

Dear Neighbor,

This week marks the last week of the First Session of the 103rd General Assembly and I am working hard to represent you in these final hours! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to advocate for issues that are important to you such as affordable housing, education, reproductive health, access to health care, sensible gun violence prevention, environmental advocacy, equitable and safe transportation, cooperative housing, and so much more. Each and every one of your phone calls, voicemails, emails, one-on-ones, and drop-ins are important to me.

Below you will find detailed legislative updates which include many bills that are true examples of what co-governing looks like.

I am personally proud to share that my bill, SB1282, which will require private and government provided insurance policies to cover liver disease screenings for high-risk individuals, has passed both chambers and awaits the Governor’s signature. I worked on this bill for many months over two legislative sessions and was glad to get it over the finish line! It will save lives right here in the 7th District.

Another bill of mine, SB 2013, which will require any state-funded residential building to meet minimum standard of living conditions such as requiring accessible air-conditioning, is also heading to the Governor’s desk. Another housing bill SB1484, which establishes a cooperative housing fund, has passed both chambers, as well as SB2278 which will make our roads safer for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit riders by removing rules that require roadways to accommodate semi-trucks.

Another bill SB1709 codifies a key requirement that two state agencies, Department of Human Services and the State Board of Education must provide technical assistance to K-12 schools lacking on-site mental health resources.

Lastly, I am excited that my bill, SB1892, to provide for auto-renewal of transit benefits for those living with disabilities and seniors has passed both chambers and also awaits the Governor’s signature. And my bill SB1864 that accelerates the timeline for the RTA public transit systems (including CTA, Metra, and Pace) to electrify their bus fleets was included in the transportation omnibus bill HB1392.

And just this week I filed SR294 which is a resolution that designates the month of May “Liver Diseases Awareness Month” in Illinois.

Additionally, 9 of my sponsored House bills have passed the Senate, and I have continued to fight for several appropriations and revenue bills. Read more about those below under legislative updates.

There is so much to share, so I encourage you to read all the good news below. I hope you will join me for my upcoming virtual end of session town hall next week on May 24th from 6:30-7:30pm. I am also looking forward to reconvening our People Legislative Council in early June, which will focus on individuals living with disabilities.

Last but not least, I’ll see you soon at upcoming district events, as well as our farmers markets, summer festivals, block parties, school events, and other community gatherings!

Sincerely,

Mike Simmons

State Senator | 7th District

 

Legislative Updates


Caption: State Senator Mike Simmons presenting House Bill 1591 on the Senate Floor.

It is the final stretch of session for the 103rd General Assembly! We are in the process of passing bills both from the House and Senate chambers so they can make their way to the Governor’s desk. We also are in the middle of hammering out the final budget for Illinois this year. I am proud to share that I have passed 9 House bills out of the Senate in the last couple weeks! Below is a recap of each piece of legislation:

  • House Bill 1596 amends various public statutes concerning children to contain more inclusive language, such as changing certain pronouns to general nouns or the nouns to which the pronouns refer, and replacing "biological" family or parent with "birth" family or parent.
  • House Bill 2297 adds state employees who identify as non-binary or gender non-conforming to the list of women, minorities and persons with physical disabilities in regards to agencies tracking this information to help guide efforts to achieve a more diversified state workforce.
  • House Bill 1591 protects same sex marriages in Illinois by repealing the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act. This bill provides that same-sex couples can receive a marriage license in Illinois without requiring a signature from an official from their previous state.
  • House Bill 2131 creates the Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force, which will report a detailed analysis of existing practices around speed limits, reduction of speed limits, steps to eliminate vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle fatalities on roads, and the impact of local bicycle and pedestrian plans.
  • House Bill 2562 ensures heating and cooling standards for properties that limit their ownership, rental and occupancy to people 55 years old or older.
  • House Bill 3414 reforms the justice system to clarify whether a minor should be tried as an adult in a self defense act if the court finds through the evidence that it is highly and substantially more true than not that the abuser/trafficker committed sex and trafficking offenses against the minor within 3 years of the minor's conviction for the self defense act.
  • House Bill 2464 increases pedestrian safety by enabling crosswalks and intersections that lack traffic lights to use a traffic control device like a Hawk signal.
  • House Bill 2776 requires that, in addition to a written notice, a community water supply operator must send a notice via email to property owners and occupants of buildings affected by lead service line replacements, and requires the City of Chicago to publicly post data on their website on the progress of replacing lead service lines.
  • House Bill 3631 prohibits Pharmacy Benefit Managers from retaliating against pharmacists who disclose information to a court, administrative hearing, before a legislative commission or more, as long as the pharmacist reasonably believes the information they have disclosed is evidence of a violation.


Caption: State Senator Mike Simmons presenting Senate Bill 1282 on the Senate Floor.

I am also thrilled to report that my bill, SB1282, has passed both chambers of the General Assembly, and is now on its way to the Governor’s desk to become law! This bill requires Medicaid, private insurance plans and government employee insurance plans to cover preventative screenings for liver disease for individuals who are at high risk for liver disease, ages 35-65 years old.

This bill will improve health outcomes for people who are both underinsured and at-risk for liver disease, especially those who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. These tests will be able to detect cirrhosis, liver cancer, and other liver injuries that can lead to early death for too many people. The cost of any screening should never be a reason to forgo care. Liver disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the US according to the CDC, and this bill will save lives through early detection by removing cost barriers.

A very personal thank you to the many constituents who have shared their experiences that helped shape this legislation. A sincere thanks to Dr. Dinee Simpson of the Northwestern Medicine African American Transplant Access Program, and Dr. Lauren Nephew, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology at Indiana University School of Medicine, for meeting with me and sharing your expertise on this important topic. Your insights helped shape this bill and further educate me on the systemic barriers to early detection and treatment of liver disease. The entire state of Illinois will now benefit from your expertise.

I’m also thrilled to announce that I have filed SR294 which is a resolution that designates the month of May “Liver Diseases Awareness Month” in Illinois. Liver disease and its many deadly complications is still far too obscure of a chronic illness. So we have a lot of work to do to bring awareness to it and help educate our communities on how to prevent it, recognize its progression, and treat it when it's caught. I will continue working hard to bring awareness and systemic improvements to our health care system around liver disease and cirrhosis. I will also continue to fight to improve our mental health care systems and health care ecosystem to help folks who are at risk for this chronic illness. The resolution will be read and adopted this week in the Senate before we adjourn.

Finally, my bill Senate Bill 2013 is also heading to the Governor’s desk! Senate Bill 2013 requires any residential building that is financed under the Illinois Affordable Housing Program to meet minimum standard of living conditions to continue receiving funding from the state. That will include air-conditioning that is independently operable by residents and separate from heating systems in all new affordable housing units built. The same requirement will apply to renovated buildings. Other standards around on-site laundry facility access, minimum heating temperatures during the winter months, and rectifying heat outages within 24 hours are also included and expanded upon in my legislation. Thank you to all who made passing these pieces of legislation possible.


Caption: State Senator Mike Simmons presenting in hearings to the Senate Revenue and Appropriations – Health and Human Services Committees.

In the last few weeks I have advocated for the following initiatives in appropriations subject matter hearings: a permanent Child Tax Credit for Illinois families, replacement of SNAP benefits for fraud victims, and creation of a rebate program in Illinois targeted to low-income purchasers for E-bikes to help reduce carbon emissions. I also continue to advocate for relief for condo owners and renters affected by high flood insurance requirements who live in flood prone areas.

As we craft the final Fiscal Year 24 budget, I have been participating in numerous budget hearings where various departments present their budget asks and report on progress. I have pressed hard in these hearings to make sure that the keen needs of our 7th district neighbors are being met. For example, I have pressed the Department of Health and Family Services on issues related to closing healthcare disparities across our far north side communities and asked for progress updates on the Northside Health Transformation Collaborative. I’ve also pushed hard for specifics and asked how I and my colleagues can support HFS as Medicaid redeterminations resume so that our neighbors stay covered by either Medicaid or some form of adequate health insurance and don’t simply fall off the roles.

I have also passionately pushed back on the Department of Child and Family Services and asked for clarity around what steps leadership is taking to ensure safe and loving placements for children who are in custody. I also have asked several questions of senior leadership of the Department of Human Services around 7th district residents (and folks from all around Illinois) whose SNAP cards were skimmed last year who still have not had their benefits replaced and frankly have been dismissed and pushed aside by the system. These are human beings and our neighbors and that outcome and casual brushoff is absolutely unacceptable. I also asked about various services and funding streams intended to help our houseless neighbors find stable permanent housing. I am fighting for increased funding for youth homelessness and permanent supportive housing for many of our adult populations who desperately need it.

Here are the several appropriations and revenue bills I’ve presented:

Senate Bill 209 appropriates nearly $140 million from the General Revenue Fund to the Illinois Department of Public Health to support the Getting to Zero Illinois Plan of ending the HIV epidemic by 2030. It also allocates money for administrative expenses and the cost of prevention screening of HIV/AIDS. It also includes nearly $10M additional dollars for access to PREP, STI screening, and other funds for prevention and treatment of HIV, critical and concrete steps for reducing the disparities we continue to see in our communities.

Senate Bill 1444 would create an Illinois Child Tax Credit for eligible low- and middle-income families. Families would receive a $700 tax credit for each child under the age of 17. The policy proposed would benefit joint filers earning less than $75,000 and single filers earning less than $50,000.

Senate Bill 1811 requires the Illinois Department of Human Services to replace SNAP benefits for those whose benefits were stolen via card skimming, card cloning or other similar methods. The replacement must come within 14 days.

Senate Bill 2015 expands the Electric Vehicle Rebate Act to include rebates for the purchase of new or used electric bikes. This will encourage the purchase and use of electric bicycles and help reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector within Illinois. The rebates would be targeted for lower-income earners modeled after Colorado’s new program.

Finally, I participated in a subject matter hearing for House Bill 3158, led by State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, which will legalize natural organic composting for end of life care options. This bill will create the Natural Organic Reduction Regulation Act, which establishes provisions on the practice of safely and respectfully reducing human remains for integration into soil within a cemetery, conservation area or private property. We will continue talking to our colleagues to educate them on this process so Illinois can become the 7th state in the country to legalize it!
 


Office Move in June!


Caption: In June our district office will be moving around the corner to 1040 W Bryn Mawr!

Change is in the air! Coming in June, our district office will be moving just around the corner to 1040 W. Bryn Mawr! The current district office at 5533 N. Broadway will be open and available to the public until the end of May. I look forward to seeing you at the new space, and thank you 48th Ward team, Congresswoman Schakowsky, Rep. Cassidy, and Cmsr. Gainer for a great shared office experience!
 

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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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