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Dear Neighbor,

Greetings 7th District residents! I wanted to give you some quick updates. The last couple weeks have been a busy mix of community and legislative meetings.

First, I’m happy that my youth mental health bill Senate Bill 4028, which was signed into law, is well on the road to implementation. I met with staff from the State Board of Education and the Student Mental Health Partnership housed at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital to ensure the goals around the new advisory council mandated by my legislation are being met. The student mental health council will be made up of youth from across Illinois who have direct lived experiences with mental health. The council will include queer youth, youth of color, and leaders from diverse backgrounds working in mental health. As a recap, this bill idea came directly from young high-school aged people in our district who are participating in my people’s legislative councils, where constituents help shape public policy and legislation that I introduce and pass. I am so proud of the progress we are making together.

I also met with staff from the Illinois Department of Transportation to push for safety improvements to roadways within our district that are under state jurisdiction, including Peterson Avenue. I am pushing the department to review crash and traffic fatality data along these roads with the goal of focusing on the most dangerous points and intersections that the department then can improve for cyclists, pedestrians, and those who are disabled. We will be meeting again before the end of the month to review IDOT’s findings. I also requested and set up a meeting with Active Transportation Alliance, an advocacy coalition working to make biking, walking, and public transit safer and more equitable. We brainstormed potential ideas for the upcoming legislative session, and will meet again before we reconvene the spring session to discuss potential bill ideas to make our state much safer and accessible for those on bike, foot, and public transit.

I also participated in a panel with other state legislators where we discussed how grassroots ideas become policy ideas that become bills that pass the legislature. I enjoyed sharing concrete examples where grassroots organizations have coalesced around ideas in the areas of health care and housing insecurity to get laws passed. The panel was organized by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation.

My staff and I also went over to Swedish Covenant Hospital to visit the Welcoming Center, which is run by Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and seeks to increase access to mental health and substance abuse treatment for community members, which is a major need for the region and a high priority for me. The Welcoming Center staff walked us through some of the challenges of running their programs ranging from funding issues to the need for modernized data and record keeping. I will be proactively reaching out to many of our mental health providers and staff in our district in the months ahead so that I can effectively fight for resources and legislation to bring better mental health services and substance abuse treatment to our constituents who need it and their families.

On another topic, I have met with a handful of constituents advocating for the human rights of those who are incarcerated and their families. I met with Restore Justice staff including several returning citizens who are on staff and actively advocating for smart legislation. I also met with advocates from Chicago Votes, and separately with Rev. Jason Lydon, who serves at Second Unitarian Church. In these meetings we talked about the need for medical care for those who are incarcerated; we also discussed SB828, legislation I have sponsored that would restore the right to vote to roughly 30,000 people currently incarcerated in Illinois; and we discussed a bill I passed, HB5525, that recommends the state make a number of systemic improvements to policy and programs serving incarcerated parents. This is a priority area and I will continue to focus on building support for legislation that respects the human rights of those who are incarcerated.

Lastly, I joined the Not That Late Show at Newport Theater to discuss my first 18 months in office. I always enjoy supporting the arts, theater, music, and comedy and was honored to bring updates from my office to a community that is well-represented across our district. And finally I appeared in a documentary that debuted this month that chronicles the lives, activism, and relationship of two LGBTQ+ community leaders and husbands, Art Johnston and Pepe Pena, owners of Sidetrack Video Bar in Lakeview and longtime organizers with Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community. I was honored to be featured in the documentary where I talked about the long history of queer activism in Chicago, and what I see as my role in that history as Illinois first openly gay state Senator. It’s always a joy to step back and reflect, and I was honored and humbled to participate in this terrific documentary that debuted last month in the Chicago International Film Festival.

As always, my office is available at 773-769-1717 if we can be of any assistance.

Sincerely,

Mike Simmons

State Senator | 7th District

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Category: Newsletters

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you and your loved ones are staying well as the seasons change. Included in this newsletter are a few resources that can potentially benefit public school educators, and other 7th District households. See further down under "Community Resources" for details related to public service loan forgiveness, ways you can help migrants coming to Chicago, energy assistance for low-income households, and other programs.

General Updates from Senator Mike Simmons

The last few weeks have been productive. At the request of several constituents, yesterday I visited Ella Flagg Young Apartments, a senior low income housing building in uptown. Residents have struggled to get timely repairs and upkeep to their units, and I went with my staff to hear out the residents and find ways to help them. Everyone in our community deserves access to clean, safe housing as a basic human right. I will continue working with residents here and in other buildings across our district to find ways to help them access the housing that they deserve through legislation where appropriate and in other more direct ways.

Last week I had the opportunity to complete a #HireTransNow training with the Chicago Therapy Collective, an Andersonville-based nonprofit that promotes personal, community and citywide accountability to alleviate LGBTQ+ health disparities. The #HireTransNow training is intended to provide concrete ways for recruiting and hiring diverse and talented transgender, gender nonconforming, gender expansive and nonbinary individuals. We will be improving our staff recruitment process to ensure an even more queer and trans-inclusive process in the 7th Senate District office.

Recently, I have met with quite a few constituents and advocacy groups recently that are reaching out with a range of ideas related to advancing gun legislation, shoring up protections for survivors of gun violence, and the need for a better systemic response for those living with chronic pain. I will once again be centering the needs of the community in my legislative work for the upcoming session. If you have any policy ideas, please contact my office.

I also want to share with you some of this month's neighborhood activities I participated in. I joined Andersonville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laura Austin for lunch to discuss ways we can support our small businesses. As the son of a longtime 7th District small business owner, I want to continue to proactively find ways we can ensure success for our manifold local small businesses across the district.

On another high note, I had the pleasure of serving as the keynote speaker for the Opening Day Ceremony for the incoming class of City Year Chicago AmeriCorps members. I addressed the newly inducted corps of roughly 100 young adults both from our district and from around Chicago and spoke about my own journey into public service. I encouraged them to stay close to their communities, to own their heritage and story, and to try to learn from the Chicago communities and families they'll be serving in the year ahead. As they embark on a year of service, I wanted these young people to feel motivated to make a difference in the lives of their students and also to embrace the impact a year of service will have on their own personal and professional journeys.

I also participated in the annual Bike the Drive event, where thousands of cyclists of all ages did the 30 -plus mile trek by bike on the DuSable Lake Shore Drive roadway from Bryn Mawr in our district to 57th Street and back! Events like this help us reimagine a city where there are more safe avenues and boulevards for bikes and pedestrians, and my partner and I were thrilled to support the cycling community and participate in the ride! I keep experiences like this and the joy I and so many in our district derive from cycling in mind as I continue to advocate for and work with the Illinois Department of Transportation and city officials towards the urgent goal of safer, dedicated, and protected public ways for cyclists.

I frequently visit every corner of our district and the past two weeks have been no different. I had a chance to attend events in Rogers Park, Edgewater, Ravenswood, Uptown and Lincoln Square recently with stop-bys at the Von Steuben Day Parade in North Center and Lincoln Square, the Lakewood-Balmoral Yard Sale in Edgewater, the Friends of Ravenswood Elementary School block party, the Madonna Mission 10th anniversary block party in Rogers Park and the American Blues Theater open house in West Ridge.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 if we can help you with anything.

Read on for legislative community updates.

Sincerely,

Mike Simmons

State Senator | 7th District

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Category: Newsletters

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you and your loved ones are staying well. Recently, new relief opportunities have been announced that will benefit households across the 7th District. See further down under "Community Resources" for details related to back to school tax benefits, federal student loan payment relief, and a new program that will benefit seniors.

General Updates from Senator Mike Simmons

The last two weeks have been productive. I had an opportunity to take a tour of Swedish Covenant Hospital and met with CEO Anthony Guaccio and several ER and clinical staff. We discussed numerous systemic challenges facing healthcare facilities including finding and retaining healthcare workers, the barebones support system in place for our neighbors who struggle with addition and other issues. We also discussed progress made since the rollout last summer of the Northside Collaborative, a partnership between Swedish Hospital and five nearby federally qualified health clinics that aims to mitigate barriers to specialty care and increase health equity. I am especially passionate about seeing health disparities for those living with chronic mental health conditions, black women, immigrants, and LGBTQIA populations reduced over time in our district and surrounding areas. This collaborative is a step in the right direction. We also toured the emergency room and the new Women's Health Suite. Lastly, I met with the staff of Project Impact, a behavioral health crisis program that seeks to assist adults and children experiencing health or addiction crises.

I also recently had the pleasure of meeting with Dan Arnett, General Manager of the Uptown-based Chicago Market, which will be a new food cooperative located on Broadway and Wilson. We brainstormed potential partnerships with community based organizations that will help ensure this co-op space meets the needs of our richly diverse populations.

Additionally, I've been in touch with the staff at Howard Brown Health Center and we are working together with the Illinois Department of Public Health Director to ensure there is an equitable response across Illinois for MPV (monkeypox) vaccine distribution for the LGBTQIA community. As our state's first openly gay state Senator, I know all too well how poorly our community has been served historically by the system and will continue to advocate and push for equitable vaccine distribution and education around MPV.

I met with Shawn Jackson, President of Truman College and staff to discuss ongoing capital needs at their Uptown facility. They are beginning renovations of a decades old biology lab that will serve a broad and diverse population of students from across our district.

On another note, last weekend I visited the Edgewater Historical Society to tour the new Indigenous Edgewater exhibit. I participated in a tour with Les Begay, Founder of the Illinois Indigenous People's Day Coalition, Marjorie Fritz-Birch, and volunteers with the historical society. I enjoyed seeing a well-done map that shows a village site inhabited by multiple ethnic groups that existed just a couple hundred years ago on almost the exact location of the apartment building where I grew up in Lincoln Square. It is really important for our community to know and understand this history that often is not taught or talked about and really should be. I encourage you to visit the exhibit and learn about the indigenous communities who lived and continue to live in the areas we now know as Edgewater and Lincoln Square.

I also visited 19 block parties in every section and neighborhood of our district over the last three weekends! I always enjoy visiting constituents in the community and giving everyone a chance to get to know their state Senator and ask questions about legislation or community issues. It was extra special to visit with neighbors of the 2400 block of W. Berwyn who threw their very first block party. I grew up just a block and a half away! And it was fun visiting the Dover Street Neighbors Association block party last weekend as I lived on Dover not too long ago. Thank you to all of you who organize block parties and take the time to get to know your neighbors. It makes our community stronger.

Below there is information on how parents and teachers can receive tax deductions for the cost of school supplies, and student loan borrowers will see up to $20,000 in forgiveness and reduced monthly payments. Read on to learn more about these exciting opportunities and how your family can benefit.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 if we can help you with anything.

Sincerely,


Sen. Mike Simmons

Mike Simmons
State Senator | 7th Senate District

 

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Category: Newsletters

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you and your family are having a wonderful summer. August is National Black Business Month! Please take time out this month and every month to patronize our wonderful local Black-owned businesses. I also wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the events I had the pleasure of attending the past couple of weeks. Aside from attending community events this month, I received the honor of being inducted into the 10th class of Edgar Fellows. 

There is also information below regarding the monkeypox virus (MPV), eligibility requirements for a vaccine, and where to receive a vaccine this weekend.

Please continue to have a wonderful and safe summer. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 if we can help you with anything.

Sincerely,

Mike Simmons

State Senator | 7th District

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Category: Newsletters

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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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