Dear Friend,

With federal supplies of the vaccine increasing steadily and the rollout well underway in Illinois, I am proud to say we are on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back to the New Normal

Last week, Gov. JB Pritzker announced a phased approach that Illinois will use to advance to Phase 5—the final phase—of the state’s Restore Illinois Plan, in which all businesses and recreation can fully reopen and large events like festivals and conventions can take place. Masks will likely still be required for some time, however.

Like prior stages of the Restore Illinois Plan, this new plan—the “Bridge to Phase 5”—will depend on COVID-19 hospitalization, death and vaccination rates. However, rather than a regionalized approach, Illinois will move forward to Phase 5 as one unified state.

How We Move Forward

If our positivity and hospitalization rates remain steady,

  • When 70% of Illinois residents age 65 and older have been vaccinated, our state will begin the Bridge to Phase 5, in which capacity limits on restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and other establishments will be loosened.
  • When 50% of Illinois residents 16 and older have been vaccinated, we will move into Phase 5, eliminating all restrictions and capacity limits.

The Bridge to Phase 5 plan also includes updated capacity limits based on risk level, with new guidelines for fully vaccinated Illinoisans. The full plan is detailed here.

 

Vaccines for All Starting April 12

Vaccine eligibility will be expanded in the coming weeks to include higher-risk groups who do not qualify in Phase 1A or 1B, building up to universal eligibility.

Eligibility will be expanded as follows:

  • March 22: Higher education staff, government workers and media
  • March 29: Food and beverage workers, construction trade workers and religious leaders

Starting April 12, all Illinoisans over age 16 are expected to be eligible to receive the vaccine. Residents are encouraged to be patient in the days and weeks following this expansion, as vaccination appointments may be limited. Find up-to-date eligibility guidelines, vaccination locations and available appointments at coronavirus.illinois.gov.

Looking Ahead, Together

We have almost reached the finish line. In order to keep up our progress, we cannot let our guard down—please wear a mask and practice social distancing as we continue to drive down new cases. If you are still waiting to get your vaccine, I urge you to be patient as the state progresses through our rollout plan. I will continue to update you with new information as I receive it.

If you have questions or are in need of support during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at 708-848-2002 or donharmon.org.

Thank you for your efforts thus far to keep your family, friends and community safe. Your sacrifices have saved lives.

Sincerely,

donharmonsig

Don Harmon

Senate President | 39th District

Category: E-Newsletters

Dear friends,

Happy New Year! The Senate started 2021 off with a busy end to the 101st General Assembly.

We passed sweeping reforms to address inequalities in education, economic opportunity and the criminal justice system.

We also passed measures to help businesses stay afloat during the ongoing pandemic and give CPS teachers the same bargaining rights as all other teachers in the state.

A brief overview of these measures is below.

If you have any questions, please reach out to my district office at (708) 848-2002 or send me an email at donharmon.org.

Sincerely,

donharmonsig

Senator Don Harmon

Senate President, 39th District

Education reform

The education pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda addresses systemic racism and the reality that many children never get a fair chance at a quality education. The measure allocates resources to children whose lives may already be shaped by trauma by the time they start kindergarten and will require a real examination of the way biases influence our school systems and curriculums.

The bill also:

  • Seeks to eliminate barriers to college admission by requiring two years of laboratory science and a foreign language to graduate high school. This matches the admission requirements for most public colleges and universities in Illinois.
  • Makes it easier for students to succeed by requiring schools to automatically enroll them in the next level of advanced coursework if they meet or exceed state standards in that subject matter.
  • Expands access to Early Intervention services to give students an equitable start.
  • Codifies the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment to ensure children start on equal footing when entering Kindergarten.

Chicago Public Schools bargaining

House Bill 2275 allows Chicago teachers to collectively bargain over issues like class size, length of school year and staff reductions.

All other teachers in the state are already allowed to bargain over these items. This legislation simply gives Chicago teachers parity.

Economic recovery

Businesses are struggling to survive as the state has imposed necessary mitigation measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many have turned to curbside pickup and delivery, but there was not a statewide standard for alcohol delivery, limiting some establishments’ ability to conduct business.

Senate Bill 54 allows retail establishments to use third party delivery services like Instacart to deliver alcohol along with other items like groceries.

Economic access, equity and opportunity

The economic development pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ agenda addresses disparities faced by communities of color.

It is divided into four pieces of legislation that address different issues:

  • Housing
  • Hiring and pay equity
  • State contracting and procurement
  • Business barriers and predatory lending

Click here for more details.

Criminal justice reform

This comprehensive criminal justice reform bill makes significant reforms in the areas of police training in everything from crisis intervention tactics to de-escalation, police accountability, transparency in law enforcement and the rights of detainees and prisoners.

Spurred by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans at the hands of police, it is the culmination of nine public hearings over four months with over 30 hours of public testimony and many more hours of stakeholder meetings and negotiations.

What the bill does:

  • Modernizes sentencing laws.
  • Replaces the cash bail system with a new system that detains all dangerous defendants, regardless of their ability to pay.
  • Institutes certification & decertification system statewide for police officers.
  • Requires the use of body cameras.
  • Prevents destruction of law enforcement misconduct records.
  • Connects substance abuse treatment programs with first responder duties.
  • Increases and improves de-escalation and mental health training for law enforcement.
  • Requires police to develop a plan to protect children during search warrant raids.
  • Empowers the attorney general to investigate deaths occurring in police custody.
  • Addresses officer wellness and mental health awareness and screenings.
  • Bans use of chokeholds and other extreme measures.
  • Establishes statewide use of force standards by 2022.

What it does NOT do:

  • Does NOT defund the police.
  • Does NOT modify or remove protections to allow police departments to be sued (qualified immunity).
  • Does NOT change or take away collective bargaining rights.
  • Does NOT allow those that are charged with a serious offense and are a risk to a person or the community or is a flight risk to be released from custody.
  • Does NOT prevent a judge from revoking pretrial release.
  • Does NOT alter prison time for individuals serving time for heinous crimes.
Category: E-Newsletters

Dear Friend,

I hope you and your loved ones are staying well. Many families are struggling with remote learning, altered routines and disrupted traditions.

But we’ll get through this tough time together. If you, your household or your business is in need of assistance, I encourage you to explore the resources I’ve included below to see if you might benefit.

You can also contact my office with questions and concerns by calling 708-848-2002 or visiting www.donharmon.org. My staff and I are ready to help.

Please keep yourself safe and healthy, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

donharmonsig

Senator Don Harmon

Senate President | 39th District

Helping small businesses reopen safely

The Illinois Department of Labor has launched Back to Business Illinois, a free service to connect small businesses with consultants who will help them create a customized plan that promotes a safe, healthy and productive environment for workers and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is completely voluntary and non-punitive—it’s designed to empower Illinois small businesses to continue operating safely. For more information on the Back to Business Illinois program, visit the official website: www.illinois.gov/worksafe

Supporting struggling tenants and homeowners

Several utility companies have voluntarily extended the moratorium on disconnections until March 1, 2021 for eligible low-income residential customers, and those who self-report to utilities that they are experiencing financial or COVID-19 hardship. Additionally, the state-issued moratorium on evictions has been extended, and if you applied for the Emergency Rental Assistance program, you will receive an update on your application status before Nov. 10, when full disbursement of funds is expected.

Providing flexibility to Illinois motorists

The Illinois Secretary of State has implemented new policies to allow drivers to stay safe and avoid long lines and crowds at the DMV. Drivers age 75 years and older automatically have their driver’s licenses extended by one year; the new expiration date is their birthday in 2021. All other licenses and IDs have been extended to Feb. 1, 2021. Vehicle registrations will expire Nov. 1 and can be renewed online, along with duplicate license and ID requests, plate replacement, and more at www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

Advocating for survivors of sexual assault

The Illinois State Police Division of Forensic Services has launched CheckPoint, a secure online tracking system that allows sexual assault survivors to monitor the progress of evidence taken in their cases at every step of the way, from collection to the State’s Attorney’s office. Any survivor who seeks a forensic medical exam at a health care facility that has implemented the CheckPoint system (about 86% of facilities offering sexual assault treatment plans) is now able to track the progress of their evidence. The CheckPoint system is available here.

Preparing unemployed Illinoisans for in-demand jobs

The State of Illinois has partnered with Coursera to offer virtual career training to unemployed workers. Using an Illinois workNet account, job seekers can register for free courses in high-demand fields like information technology from top institutions—such as the University of Illinois—to learn new skills, earn certificates and make themselves more attractive to employers. More than 3,000 residents have enrolled, and over 430 classes have been completed since June. Register here by Oct. 31.

Category: E-Newsletters

Dear friends,

If you’re decluttering your home before colder weather keeps us inside, let us help you safely dispose of personal paperwork.

I’m hosting a shredding event with Rep. Kathleen Willis in Northlake on Saturday, October 10, from 9 a.m. to noon at 112 N. Wolf Rd.

Bring documents that contain your personally identifiable information to be safely shredded, such as old bank statements, medical records, tax returns, bills, receipts and credit card applications. Participants will be limited to two boxes per person.

Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness will be partnering with us to provide free face masks while supplies last.

This event is free and open to the public. All safety and social distancing measures will be observed.

More information is on the flyer below. I hope to see you there!

Sincerely,

donharmonsig

Don Harmon

Senate President, 39th District

 

10 10 20ShredDay

Category: E-Newsletters

Dear friend,

As we move further into Phase 4, more businesses are reopening and Illinoisans are beginning to go back to work. But the road to recovery is long—many families are still facing economic challenges as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Thankfully, support is available for businesses, community organizations and individuals struggling to make ends meet during this time. I’ve included resources below that I hope you’ll find useful. Feel free to forward the information to friends, loved ones and neighbors who may be able to benefit.

If you have any questions and concerns, please contact my office at (708) 848-2002 or click here to email me.

To keep our state moving in the right direction, I encourage you to continue washing your hands, wearing a mask and maintaining a safe social distance. It’s up to all of us to contain the spread of COVID-19. Together, we can save lives.

Sincerely,

donharmonsig

Don Harmon
Senate President, 39th District

Keeping small businesses afloat

The deadline for the federal Paycheck Protection Program has been extended to Aug. 8. Through the PPP, the U.S. Small Business Administration is offering up to $10 million in loans to eligible businesses to cover payroll costs, rent, utilities or interest on mortgages. Loans are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, and if used as intended, the loans don’t have to be repaid. Find participating lenders here. If your business needs assistance with the application process, contact the local Small Business Development Center, located at 1140 N. Lamon, Chicago, IL, 60651 or online here.

Preparing Illinoisans for high-demand jobs

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is investing $4.7 million in 25 partner organizations to expand the Illinois Apprenticeship Program and train more residents for high-demand, well-paying jobs. Apprenticeship opportunities span a wide range of industries, including new programs in IT and medical assistance. Through the expansion, apprenticeship intermediaries will begin to operate for the first time in DeKalb, Sterling, Rock Island, Moline, Rockford, and Springfield. These investments will also provide existing programs in underserved communities with additional capacity. DCEO partners currently offer programming in East St. Louis, Southern Cook County and Southern Illinois. Residents and employers interested in joining the Illinois Apprenticeship Program can visit www.ApprenticeshipIllinois.com to learn more.

Protecting yourself against scams

Scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic by posing as contact tracers. Illinois State Police issued a warning on their Instagram page that included a screenshot of the most recent text scam circulating throughout the state. The message appears to be from a contact tracer and invites recipients to click on a link for more information—if you receive a text like this, do not click on the link. If you believe you are a victim or the target of a coronavirus scam, you should contact local police immediately.

Helping students continue their education at City Colleges of Chicago

Students who have had difficulty returning to City Colleges of Chicago due to unpaid debt may have an opportunity to return under the new Fresh Start program. Students who have dropped out and failed to pay may be able to have half of their outstanding debts waived, as long as they meet certain academic requirements. Most qualifying students are Black and Latinx and live in the neighborhoods hardest hit during the pandemic. To participate, students must enroll in at least one fall course by Aug. 20. Start the process here.

Testing locations

 

The State of Illinois operates community-based testing sites in all regions of the state. These sites are open to all, regardless of symptoms, and provide free tests. For a list of these locations and to find any other testing sites in your area, visit dph.illinois.gov/testing. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should be tested. A full list of symptoms can be found here.

Category: E-Newsletters

Contact Me

Email President Harmon

Springfield Office:
327 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(p) 217.782.8176

Oak Park Office:
6941 W. North Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302
(p) 708.848.2002
 

Social Media

facebook 50pxtwitter 50px

Find Your Legislator

E-Newsletter Signup

eNewsletter Signup
First Name(*)

Invalid Input

Last Name(*)

Invalid Input

Your Email(*)

Please let us know your email address.