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050323CM0360SPRINGFIELD – To discuss a state-wide child tax credit and SNAP reimbursements to victims of fraud, State Senator Mike Simmons participated in subject matter hearings in the Senate Revenue and Appropriations – Health and Human Services Committees.

“Subject matter hearings are an important part of the legislative process,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “Working families need economic relief now, and a permanent child tax credit answers that need. This step would benefit nearly half of Illinois households or 1.5 million children. Victims of SNAP fraud need those funds reimbursed to make up for missed benefits and to help with their ongoing struggles as food insecurity is only increasing right now. I was proud to represent these important issues in these hearings.” 

Simmons presented two pieces of legislation: Senate Bill 1444 and Senate Bill 1811. Subject matter hearings on appropriations and revenue matters help inform deliberations as the final Fiscal Year 24 budget is crafted in the coming weeks. 

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.

For more information on the bills Simmons is sponsoring and where they are in the legislative process, visit here

Category: Press Releases

042623CM0928SPRINGFIELD – Following restrictive book bannings in Florida and around the nation, State Senator Mike Simmons advanced legislation out of the Senate to prevent books from being banned in Illinois on Thursday.

“Six other states have already led efforts to ban books, and in the 2021-2022 school year more than 2500 books were banned across the country. We are seeing whole communities being erased from school curricula and libraries, and so by passing SB689 we are getting ahead of this hateful wave and putting Illinois on the right side of history,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). 

Senate Bill 689 (originally filed as SB1812) prohibits library systems, school districts, school boards, and trustees of a library or village library from limiting access to or prohibiting the purchase of books or materials related to autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual and reproductive health, gender identity, religion, human rights activism, or any other subject.

“My goal with this legislation is to ensure that every person in our state, especially young people – that next generation of LGBTQ+ youth, that next generation of youth struggling to find their place in our society – has the right to free and robust access to all books, just as I did growing up," Simmons said.

“Books uniquely broaden perspectives, exercise minds, challenge biases, all while offering a unique opportunity to process and absorb information independently,” said Simmons. “As the first openly LGBTQ+ person elected to serve in the Illinois Senate, the first Black person elected to the Senate to represent the far north side of Chicago, and as the bi-ethnic son of a Black-American mother and an Ethiopian-American refugee father, books validated many of my unique intersectional experiences and opened many doors.” 

The bill would not impose limitations on access to books or materials in a library for safety reasons or based on the age and development level of persons who will have access to those books or materials.

Senate Bill 689 passed the Senate on Thursday and now heads to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

042723CM0887SPRINGFIELD – In response to attacks on transgender individuals around the nation and to increase gender inclusivity across the state of Illinois, State Senator Mike Simmons advanced two House Bills out of the Senate Human Rights Committee on Thursday.

“Everyone deserves to be addressed and represented with the pronouns they use and prefer, especially in communications coming from our state level agencies and in our state laws,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “As the first openly LGBTQ+ person to serve in the Illinois Senate, I know first-hand how important inclusive language is.”

House Bill 1596 amends various public acts 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.

“Using someone’s correct pronouns in everyday life is a basic human right, and updating our state systems is necessary to make sure everyone is represented,” Simmons said. “Everyone deserves to be seen, heard, and respected - this is a basic courtesy, but also a right.”

These measures passed out of the Senate Human Rights Committee on Thursday and now head to the Senate floor.

Category: Press Releases

042623CM0948SPRINGFIELD – To prevent minors who are survivors of human trafficking, or other factors such as sexual abuse, from being tried as adults in certain criminal cases, State Senator Mike Simmons advanced a House bill out of the Senate Special Committee on Criminal Law and Public Safety on Wednesday.

“Survivors of child trafficking and abuse have endured unimaginable trauma and pain, and they should not be tried as adult criminals when they are simply trying to defend themselves and escape their abusers,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “Survivors deserve our support and compassion, and a system that protects - not punishes them.”

House Bill 3414 was inspired by Sara Kruzan, a survivor of child sex trafficking who was sentenced to life in prison when she was only 17 years old. She was eventually released and pardoned, however this legislation seeks to protect future survivors from a similar fate. 

House Bill 3414 reforms the criminal legal system clarifies whether or not a minor should be tried as an adult if the crime the minor commits is against someone who was convicted of human trafficking or of a sex crime targeting the minor within the last three years. If that is the case, the court may transfer them to juvenile court.

HB 3414 also expands the number of factors judges can consider in deciding whether to issue an order to prosecute a minor as an adult for a felony offense. These factors include if the minor was in the child welfare system, is a survivor of sexual violence or similar trauma, mental health, or outside pressure from the minor’s peers, family or community.

“We should be providing every support and resource to any child who has experienced abuse,” Simmons said. “It is our responsibility to protect them, and to do everything we can to end the vicious and cruel cycle of punishing our most vulnerable populations.” 

House Bill 3414 passed the Senate Special Committee on Criminal Law and Public Safety on Wednesday and moves to the Senate floor for further consideration. 

Category: Press Releases

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