- Published: Thursday, May 20, 2021 10:31 AM
In his first 100 days, Senator Simmons has sponsored or cosponsored more than 100 pieces of legislation, resolved over 100 constituent casework requests, and answered more than 500 letters, phone calls, and email messages from 7th district constituents.
It has been the privilege of a lifetime and a joy to serve the communities that raised me — Lincoln Square, Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park, West Ridge, Ravenswood, Andersonville, and Evanston. I am proud to represent one of the most diverse Senate districts in the state. In this letter, I want to share with you updates from the capital, our district’s impact in Springfield, and what you can expect from me in the 100 days to come. Here is a quick video covering 100 days of representing the 7th District of Illinois!
From day 1, I promised that I would change the expectations for representative government in our district. As the first Black and openly LGBTQIA+ Senator for the 7th district, I am committed to working tirelessly to amplify the voices and urgent needs of the residents of our district: Our immigrants, those struggling with access to housing, seniors, people in-between jobs, single mothers, returning citizens, LGBTQIA+ people, young people, and others hit hardest by the pandemic. Let me catch you up on my first 100 days:
Legislative accomplishments and impact of the 7th district
In 100 days, we have:
- Introduced 13 bills
- Acted as chief sponsor for 19 bills, Including:
- Clean Energy Jobs Act
- Ranked Choice Voting
- The Repeal of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act
- Cosponsored 60 Senate Bills and 27 House Bills
I have sponsored bills on issues such as:
- hair discrimination,
- accountability for hate crimes,
- supporting survivors of rape by easing access to crisis resources,
- sex education and other health education in schools,
- adding Asian American history to school curriculum requirements,
- supporting our transgender and non-binary neighbors with reforms to allow for true gender declaration on legal documents,
- creation of the Consumer Choice in Maternal Care for African-American Mothers Pilot Program Act,
- low-income housing aid,
- raising the minimum wage for home care workers who care for our seniors to $15/hr,
- providing a neighborhood centered mental health 911 response option,
- requiring dental coverage for students,
- requiring insurance companies to cover life-saving preventative cancer screenings and more.
You are my top priority
In 100 days, we have:
- Responded to over 325 constituent emails regarding legislation, unemployment assistance, FOID cards, SNAP benefits, rental assistance, essential community meetings, and more
- Answered over 400 phone calls from constituents
- Met with over 253 community members and advocacy organizations
- Worked to improve upon and advance key legislation in 27 Senate committee hearings
Key Legislative Priorities and Community Involvement
SB 2132 creates a $600-per-child tax credit for single parents making under $40,000 and joint parents making under $60,000. Any post-pandemic recovery needs to include aid for parents struggling to take care of their children. This bill was heard in the Senate Revenue Committee recently and is being considered for inclusion in the Budget Implementation Bill.
SB 966 expands eligibility for Medicaid to include families making 200% of the federal poverty level. Health insurance should be readily available to my constituents. The bill is now being considered in budget discussions, and we hope to see it added to the Medicaid omnibus bill this session.
SB 2133, passed by the Senate, sets visibility and structural reform at the forefront of the fight for justice for the LGBTQIA+ community. This bill requires ten state agencies to gather specific data on age, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity in programs funded and administered by the State of Illinois. We can’t protect these communities if we refuse to see them. This bill is historic because, for decades, LGBTQ residents simply have not been counted. This legislation will allow public health staff to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ community.
SB 817 passed the Senate and now is being considered in the House. It prohibits all schools from issuing policies in handbooks about hairstyles traditionally associated with race and ethnicity, including braids, dreadlocks, and protective hairstyles. Young black people have endured systemic racism targeting their hairstyles in schools, and this bill is a systemic response. This bill made it in over 25 local papers and earned national attention.
We lost our young brother, Adam Toledo, at the hands of the police. We collectively mourned with our neighbors in Lincoln Square, and I shared my story of losing my uncle at the hands of police and being chased by police in my teens. It is up to all of us to hold our leaders accountable. We need to build a system for brown and Black young people to survive and thrive.
A photo of me marching with our community in Logan Square to send love to the Toledo family and demand change.
Vaccines: We hosted two vaccine clinics that delivered COVID-19 shots to 200 residents of Rogers Park and West Ridge, two areas hit hardest by the virus with low vaccine inventory.
Today we have a vaccination rate of 41.8%. Our work here is not done! Thank you to Howard Brown Health Center, the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, ONE Northside, health care workers, and volunteers for their partnership!
Intersectional advocacy: I spoke with young people across the state to advocate for the repeal of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act (SB 2190). Many of you have called in support of this bill. This issue stems from a far-right, anti-choice, anti-people of color, anti-LGBTQIA+ conservative movement that affects women, the transgender community, and the Black community. I am dedicated to fighting for our young people and ensuring access to health care.
I was honored to join my Asian American & Pacific Islander brothers and sisters at an interfaith rally against the rising levels of AAPI hate. We must see each other’s pain, be there for one another, and intervene. We cannot continue to go backward.
Above is a photo of me gathering with the AAPI community at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago to actively resist anti-Asian hate. Our district and neighbors deserve to feel safe and celebrated in our community, and I will always stand up for them across our district.
Advocating on behalf of the 7th district on the Senate Floor
What to expect in the next 100 days:
I want to share with you my plans for the next 100 days. I am excited to see my neighbors and get my boots on the ground this summer. These next 100 days, I am looking forward to meeting with constituents, building out the 7th District People’s Legislative Councils to build next year’s legislative agenda, and celebrating the reopening of Chicago and the 7th district.
Since I entered office, I have been back-and-forth from Chicago to Springfield. Now that I will be back in the district, it will be much easier for me to meet with you in person! You can request a meeting with my staff or me at this form: http://bit.ly/MeetingRequest7thDistrict.
In February, I promised to work with the community to build my legislative agenda. My priority is to amplify the voices that are often silenced: the students, the parents who are squeezed in this economy, people with multiple jobs, people experiencing homelessness, communities of color, women, LGBTQIA+ people, and those who frankly do not have the time to participate in the democratic process because of the structure of our economy. I know this because my family and I lived it. My grandmother worked 16 hours a day to keep the rent paid. My mother ran her salon and raised two children. As an elected official today, it is my job to proactively bring these voices together in a thoughtful way that facilitates the creation of genuinely impactful policy.
To achieve this, I am launching People’s Councils throughout the summer and fall. These councils will consist of 8-12 people to speak to their experiences and needs. I don’t want to represent people by just looking at data. That’s easy. I want to hear stories: real experiences that will create grassroots policy, drive meetings, and better the lives of the people in the 7th district.
These People’s Councils will cover areas like:
- Single moms,
- Young adults,
- Undocumented immigrants,
- Returnings citizens,
- Longtime residents,
- Transgender issues,
- Mom and pop small businesses,
- People with disabilities
If you are interested in one of the councils, call my office at 773-769-1717
I believe that transparency and accountability are essential with your elected officials. I’m happy to share my plans with you and promise to be open with my day-to-day work. Please continue holding me accountable for these goals and progress for the district.
See you soon!
I will be out in the community meeting with local business owners, community leaders, activists, organizers and celebrating the beautiful people and work in the 7th district. I will be posting all public events and an active calendar on my website. As much as I appreciate and honor my time in Springfield, I miss being home with my neighbors. I can’t wait to be back and see you soon.
Thank you for your support and work this year.
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District
via Senator Mike Simmons
May 20, 2021 at 07:21PM