Happy New Year! I hope your 2024 is off to a great start!
The start of a new year brings with it the enactment of new Illinois laws. Over 300 new laws took effect on January 1st and I wanted to highlight a few for you:
- State-funded libraries are now prohibited from banning or removing materials due to religious and/or partisan disapproval. The first-of-its-kind legislation was influenced by the state’s librarian, Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, in response to the rise in book bans throughout local school districts.
- Illinois car manufacturers are now required to create a 24/7 vehicle theft hotline to help local law enforcement track down stolen vehicles in real time using their existing global positional systems (GPS). This bipartisan legislation will be a pivotal tool for police officers to locate stolen vehicles, find and arrest perpetrators, and prevent vehicles from being used in additional crimes.
- The minimum wage in Illinois is now $14 an hour for non-tipped workers and $8.40 an hour for tipped workers.
One of the bills I championed last year also went into effect! HB1186, the HMO Referral Bill, will now allow patients enrolled in an HMO insurance plan to access in-network services and providers without actively obtaining a referral from a primary care physician. The new law will remove unnecessary barriers to individuals seeking health care.
The General Assembly returns back to Springfield next week to begin the spring session. I am excited to share more legislative updates with you along the way. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to my office – we are always happy to assist you.
2024 Legislative Update
I recently filed two pieces of legislation in preparation for this year’s legislative session which I would like to share with you!
- March of Dimes recently released their 2023 report on Access to Maternity Care, which details the key indicators for preterm birth and takes a deep dive into both the maternal and infant mortality rates to show the overall view of maternal and infant health throughout the country. Unfortunately, a majority of states, including Illinois, are lacking in the pre- and postnatal care resources available to expecting families. After reviewing this report, I met with members from March of Dimes and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center to figure out how we can make care more accessible to moms and moms-to-be throughout Illinois.
I’m proud to announce that I have introduced a new bill that would fund a pilot program for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center to operate a mobile prenatal and postnatal healthcare clinic, with the total investment being $2.1M over the span of three years. With this new program, Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and March of Dimes would work together to bring mobile care vans to women across Illinois.
- The Chicago Children’s Museum has been a staple in the Chicagoland area for years, providing memorable experiences and educational enrichment opportunities to children, families and teachers. As a mother of three under four, I personally know how critical it is to have accessible spaces in the community where children and families can connect and grow.
I recently filed an appropriations bill that would give the Chicago Children’s Museum a $500,000 line item in the state’s budget for operating expenses around their “Museum for All” program. This program is an initiative to increase and encourage regular museum attendance by low-income and underserved families. Currently, the state budget allocates an amount of funds to the “Museums in the Park” for operating expenses related to the Museum for All program, but since the Children Children’s Museum is not considered a Museum in the Park, they have not been able to qualify for this key funding.
Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee 2023 Gun Safety Report Card
The Gun Violence Prevention Action Committee recently released their 2023 Gun Safety Report Card and I’m proud to announce that I’ve received an ‘A’ grade! This past year we introduced and passed two gun violence prevention measures that will save countless lives – the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which banned assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and the Firearms Industry Responsibility Act, which allows victims and survivors of gun violence to pursue legal action against gun manufacturers for dangerous sales or marketing practices. Our work in 2023 set a precedent that Illinois remains committed to implementing evidence-based gun safety legislation and I look forward to continuing identifying opportunities to keep our communities safe.
Support for the New Arrivals
As of late last year, the new arrivals who were housed at the 18th and 19th district police stations transitioned into temporary housing and shelter placements. There are still opportunities available for people interested in helping support our new neighbors. The City of Chicago is consistently updating their donation requests to appropriately fit the needs of the new arrivals.
To find the most up-to-date information, please visit Chicago.gov/support.
Grant & Scholarship Opportunities
LAST CHANCE TO APPLY – Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Illinois B2B NewBiz grant program! This opportunity will provide financial relief up to $30,000 to businesses that started during the pandemic in the industries most impacted by the pandemic. Qualifying for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations must have started operations between December 31, 2021 and January 1st, 2023. Applications will be accepted until Thursday January 11th, 2024 at 11:59 pm CT. For more information, visit https://b2bnewbiz.com/.
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 out the link below 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.
The Township Officials of Illinois recently opened up the application window for their 2024 Scholarship opportunities! They will be awarding seven, $2,000 scholarships to Illinois high school seniors who will be attending an Illinois college or university. Applications are due by March 1st, 2024. Please visit here for more information.
REAL ID Information:
A REAL ID from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office or a valid U.S. Passport will be required for Illinois residents who fly domestically beginning May 7th, 2025. For information on other types of identification accepted by TSA, please visit the TSA website. To view which documents you need to apply for a REAL ID, visit the REAL ID Interactive Checklist.
REAL ID applicants have the option to make an appointment at one of the 30 appointment facilities, or they can visit a walk-in facility. To determine what facilities require an appointment or to make an appointment, please visit Secretary of State Facility Appointments.
Chicago Holiday Tree Recycling Program:
The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation and the Chicago Park District are hosting their annual Holiday Tree Recycling Program at 27 locations throughout Chicago. Thousands of recycled trees will be used for creating mulch for residents, local parks and forests! The city will be collecting trees until January 20th at the locations listed above. For more information, please visit here.
Chicago Restaurant Week is back for its 17th year! Over 350 restaurants all throughout the Chicagoland area are featuring special prix fixe brunch, lunch and dinner menus from January 19th until February 4th. There are so many great restaurants in the 12th district to choose from, including Argot, Gemini, and Mia Francesca. For a full list of restaurants and their menu options, please visit their website.
Apply to Vote by Mail:
Interested in voting by mail in the upcoming election? Vote by Mail applications are now open for the primary election on Tuesday, March 19th. All requests must be submitted by Friday, March 15th at 5pm. To request a vote by mail ballot, please visit here.
Community Commission for Public Safety & Accountability Applications Now Open!
The application process for the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) is now open. CCPSA is a seven-member body with a mission to increase public safety, transparency, and community input into the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and Police Board operations, policies, and procedures. The Nominating Committee will include representatives from each of Chicago’s 22 Police District Councils.
Interested in learning more? The Nominating Committee is hosting an informational webinar on January 11th at 6 pm. To register, click here. Applications to serve on the Commission are open until February 7th at 12pm. Individuals passionate about shaping public safety can access the application via the CCPSA website.
In the Community:
ELVN Raffle Winners Dinner
Senator Feigenholtz and I had the pleasure of taking the winners of the East Lakeview Neighbors Oktoberfest Silent Auction to lunch at Willow Room! It was fun to share a meal with Mike Raffety and Greg O’Neill, all while supporting one of the 12th District’s amazing neighborhood establishments.
ACLU Annual Legislator Awards Ceremony
It was such an honor to be recognized by the ACLU of Illinois at their 2023 Annual Legislator Awards Ceremony for HB3425, the legislation I introduced and passed to expand and strengthen Illinois’ cyberbullying statute. The ACLU of Illinois was a critical ally in ensuring this legislation made it across the finish line. This celebration of my colleagues and their sponsorship of civil liberties legislation since 2019 was inspiring, and I look forward to more collaboration in the future.
To see the other lawmakers honored at this event, please visit the ACLU of Illinois’ website here.
PAWS Chicago Partnership:
We have a new PAWS Chicago pal to introduce for January: Meet Danu!
Danu is a one-year-old energetic mixed breed pup looking for a forever home! She is super friendly and social, and would thrive in a quiet home and neighborhood.
Are you right for Danu? You might be if you have plenty of time to spend with this sweet, fun pup! If you’re interested in adopting Danu or another furry friend, visit PAWS Chicago for more information!
Wishing you a safe and healthy January. As always, please reach out to my office with any questions or concerns.