Happy August! Over the past few weeks, my office and I have been stopping in at events throughout the district, attending community meetings, and sitting down with constituents and advocates to begin working on our legislative priorities for the upcoming session.
I’m happy to share that I recently filed HB 4112, which will expand private insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments to remove the four round limitation. Currently in Illinois, private insurers are mandated to cover no more than four rounds of IVF, with an additional two rounds if a live birth results. However, recent studies have shown that rates of live births increase drastically when women undergo at least six rounds of IVF treatment, which is why I’ll be pursuing this legislation in the upcoming session.
I had the privilege of standing in support of the members of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA at the recent Solidarity March and Rally in Chicago. Actors, writers, and film workers deserve to make a living wage, have access to health insurance and retirement plans, and be protected from the use of artificial intelligence. I was proud to champion the expansion of the Film Tax Credit in 2022, which established Illinois as a world leader in the film industry, but now the industry needs to stand up for its members.
Starting this month I will be on maternity leave, awaiting the newest arrival to the Croke family. While I’m out, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns – my team is available to assist. I look forward to being back out in the district with you all soon!
The Secretary of State’s Office Announces the Skip-the-Line Program
In an effort to improve customer service and eliminate the unpredictability of wait times at Illinois DMVs, Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias will implement the Skip-the-Line program on September 1.
The Skip-the-Line Program includes:
Appointment scheduling — Customers will be required to make appointments for in-person visits at 44 of the busiest DMVs. All Chicago and suburban locations and select central and downstate DMVs will require an appointment for REAL IDs, driver’s licenses and ID card services, and in-car driving tests. Vehicle-related services – such as titles, registrations or license plate renewals – do not require an appointment.
New extended hours of operation — Every DMV will extend hours of operation from Monday – Friday to 8 am – 5:30 pm. Select facilities will be open on Saturdays from 8 am – 12:30 pm.
Customers are encouraged to visit ilsos.gov to schedule an appointment, look up DMV location information, and take advantage of many online services, including renewals of driver’s licenses, ID cards and plate stickers. You may also call (844) 817-4649 to schedule an appointment.
Support for New Arrivals
The 18th District Police Station is still continuing to shelter and house newly arrived migrants until space becomes available at local shelters. The biggest need is meal donations and deliveries. Please consider signing up through this link if you can donate and deliver lunch or dinner on a given day/time.
Additionally, my office is still collecting dry breakfast foods, such as cereal and breakfast bars and milk and juice that do not require refrigeration. If you are interested in supporting this effort, please consider dropping off donations at our office at 3223 N Sheffield Ave., Suite A and mention it is for the 18th District migrants.
Governor JB Pritzker recently announced the Federal Grant Support Program to help Illinois compete for additional federal funding to strengthen our businesses and communities. Illinois-based businesses and organizations seeking federal grants that align with the State’s economic development objectives are encouraged to apply through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to have part of their match covered by state dollars. More information can be found here.
DCEO Grant Training Information Sessions
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is conducting information sessions and office hours designed to help entities seeking grants. The training session topics will detail the pre-qualification process, as well as other critical information. Check this link to sign-up for an upcoming session.
Do you want to stay up-to-date on active state grant opportunities? Subscribe to Illinois NOFO Notifications to receive a weekly digest of Funding Opportunities (NOFO) offered by state agencies.
To subscribe, send a blank email (subject and body) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal Student Loans
The pause on federal student loan payments is ending in September. Interest rates on federal student loans will resume and borrowers will be notified throughout September and October of the current amount they owe along with their exact payment due date.
Recently, President Joe Biden announced the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan. The new income-driven repayment plan will replace the existing Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan. The SAVE Plan will decrease the percentage of personal income that borrowers have to pay each month towards their federal student loans from 10% to 5%. Borrowers on the REPAYE Plan will automatically get the benefits of the new SAVE Plan. For more information, including how to apply, click here.
To help assist Illinois borrowers, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is partnering with the University of Illinois system to provide free webinars focused on the return to repayment process. To register for an upcoming webinar, click here.
In the Community
Gold Coast Neighbors Association’s “Pitch in for the Parks” Initiative
My office recently headed to the south end of Lincoln Park to join members of the community in the GCNA’s Pitch in for the Parks Initiative. We spent the morning surveying for post-Fourth of July festivity trash, chatting, and enjoying one of Lincoln Park’s gorgeous green spaces.
If you would like to join GCNA in their efforts to keep the south end of Lincoln Park clean and beautiful, register to volunteer at this link.
Florence G. Heller JCC Visit
Last month, I visited the Florence G. Heller JCC in Lakeview. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the amazing educators who are inspiring our future leaders. As a mother of young children, I understand the importance of having high-quality preschools and daycare programs in the neighborhood. For more information on the services the Florence G. Heller JCC offers, please visit their website.
LCA Summer Block Party
My office had a blast handing out cookies (from our District’s own Chicago Sugar Daddy Patisserie!) and speaking with many members of our community at the Lincoln Central Association’s Summer Block Party. Thank you to the Lincoln Central Association, Carnival Grocery, and Mid-North Association for hosting the event and saving a spot for us!
Brewery Night with Your Elected Officials
Thank you to everyone who came out to our Brewery Night with Your Elected Officials event that I co-hosted with State Senator Sara Feigenholtz and 44th Ward Alderman Bennett Lawson! It was so great to meet and speak with you about our shared priorities for the community. I look forward to hosting similar events in the future.
Northalsted Market Days
Get ready for Northalsted Market Days on August 12 and 13 from 11:00 am – 10:00 pm. This weekend-long, live music summer street festival celebrates the Northalsted/Lakeview community. Market Days is half a mile long, and features all-day lineups of live music, hundreds of vendors, food and drink, drag performances, dance exhibitions, and more! Located on Halsted St. from Belmont to Addison, this fest is great for all ages. The $20 suggested donation helps pay performers and festival workers and support charities, nonprofits and community programs like the Chicago Pride Crosswalks. We hope to see you there!
18th Police District Council Meeting
The 18th Police District Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 22nd at 6 pm at the Park Community Church (1001 N Crosby St.). RSVPs are encouraged at this link.
19th Police District Council Meeting
The 19th Police District Council Meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 30th at 6:30 pm at the Athenaeum Center (2936 N Southport Ave.). Please join the council and fellow neighbors for updates and a conversation around homelessness and public safety. RSVPs are optional but appreciated. RSVP here.
44th Ward Senior Picnic
Stop by the RESCHEDULED 44th Ward Senior Picnic with Alderman Bennett Lawson, Thursday, September 7th from 11:00 am-1:00 pm located at Wellington and Lake Shore Drive, south of Picnic Grove 13. To RSVP, call (773) 525-6034. We hope to see you there for music, lunch, and an exciting raffle!
This month’s nonprofit shoutout is Nourishing Hope!
Nourishing Hope was founded in 1970 by a group of Lakeview neighbors who saw a need in their community to help those less fortunate. Since then, the organization has continued to grow and evolve to help empower individuals and families with a variety of services. Currently they have two food pantry locations, two warehouses, and delivery services throughout the city. They also offer counseling, social services, and community groups. I’m so grateful for all of the work Nourishing Hope does for 12th district families and the Chicago community.
I had the pleasure of visiting Nourishing Hope’s new headquarters (located at 1716 W Hubbard Street) last month! I enjoyed seeing this wonderful organization at work and am grateful for all of the essential services and resources they provide.
Nourishing Hope relies on volunteers to help sort and package meals and assist people at their pick-up location. If you are able, please consider volunteering for an upcoming shift. Signing up is quick and easy, and you can do it right here! You might even run into my team there!
If you know of a small business or nonprofit that deserves a shoutout next month, let us know!
PAWS Chicago Partnership
We have a new PAWS Chicago pal to introduce for July: Meet Franny!
Franny will give you her famous grin and do a little wiggle when she’s happy and relaxed – which is usually when she’s playing with one of her toys or spending time in a familiar spot with her favorite people. She is a shy girl looking for a quiet home where she can settle in at her own pace. She would really love her own yard where she can play with her trusted people, and maybe even a friendly and patient doggie friend too.
Franny would do best in a home with adults only or children over 12, and preferably no cats. If you’re interested in adopting Franny or another furry friend, visit PAWS Chicago for more information!
I hope you have a relaxing August and to all of those heading back to school, have a great start to the school year! Please remember that my office is here to be a resource for you.