April Newsletter

Dear Neighbors:

I am honored to have sponsored HB 376, the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act. This legislation recently passed the House and awaits a vote in the Senate.

As an Asian American and proud product of Illinois public schools, this legislation is personal to me. It wasn’t until law school, when I was studying the issue, that I learned of the struggles my grandparents faced as part of the Chinese Exclusion Acts. This bill will ensure that students learn a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of United States history and provide a more inclusive curriculum for students across our state.

Lack of representation in curriculum, positions of power and in media leads to miseducation. Empathy comes from understanding. We simply cannot do better unless we know better.

When people don’t learn about Asian Americans, the effect is non-Asian people start to believe in stereotypes and behave towards Asian Americans based on those stereotypes. The lack of knowledge is a root cause of discrimination and the best weapon against ignorance is education.

Read more about this, other important pieces of legislation, and community updates below. As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns, or ideas, please contact my office at 847-486-8810 or info@gonggershowitz.com.


Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz

Legislative Update

With just six weeks remaining until the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn the Spring session, the pace is picking up quickly. This week we are approaching a critical legislative deadline. All bills must be passed out of the chamber in which they were introduced by April 23.

Last week, I passed five bills out of the House that will now be under consideration in the Senate:

HB 376, the TEAACH Act, requiring that every public elementary and high school include a unit of instruction on Asian American history in their curriculums passed with a strong bipartisan majority on a vote of 98 – 13.

HB 370, Close Higher Education Loophole, passed unanimously out of the House. This legislation expressly prohibits the misuse of the guardianship process by wealthy parents who have exploited a legal loophole to qualify their children for need-based college financial aid and scholarships they would not otherwise receive, taking away a truly needy student’s chance to go to college.

HB 2790, Defenders for All, which authorizes the Cook County Public Defender’s office to represent individuals in removal proceedings to ensure continuity of representation, passed 72 – 42.

HB 25, Immigration Right to Counsel, establishes a task force to investigate the implementation of universal representation for individuals subject to removal proceedings in Illinois. Recognizing that counsel is essential to due process for immigrants in removal proceedings, this measure passed 82 – 25 – 1.

HB 709, Know Your Rights, directs state agencies to conduct a public information campaign to educate immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and other noncitizens residing in Illinois of their rights under the U.S. Constitution and Illinois laws. Passed 83 – 24 – 1.

COVID-19 Recovery

Vaccine Expansion! The State of Illinois opened vaccine eligibility to every resident aged 16 and over on Monday, April 12th.

In order to sign up for a notification to receive a vaccination from Cook County, you can enter your information HERE. The county has a vaccine sign-up hotline that can be reached at 833-308-1988.

Additionally, the Illinois Department of Public Health has opened a vaccine appointment call center to assist residents who do not have access or have difficulty utilizing online services. You can contact the call center at 833-621-1284.

Flick Park testing continues, The COVID-19 testing center run by Northshore Clinical Labs in partnership with the Glenview Park District at Flick Park is scheduled to remain open until April 30th. Registration is required, you can make an appointment HERE.

Commissioner Scott Britton has organized a 14th District COVID-19 Vaccine page dedicated to serve as a one-stop-shop for any vaccine questions. It also includes information and links on how. to sign up with a variety of providers. You can view the site here: HERE

Driver’s License renewals have been extended again by the Secretary of State’s office. All currently expired driver’s licenses and ID cards, as well as any expiring over the next four months, now remain valid until August 1st, 2021. This does not apply to Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) or CDL learners permits. Read more HERE

State and Federal Income Tax Deadlines Extended

The State of Illinois extended the income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15th to May 17th. This does not apply to estimated tax payments for 2021.

Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service announced that the federal income tax filing due date has been moved from April 15th to May 17th as well.

Ramadan Begins

Ramadan began on Monday, April 12th, and lasts until Wednesday, May 12th. I wish all those in the 17th District who are celebrating, Ramadan Mubarak!

Grant News

Park and Recreational Facility Grants: The Skatium Ice Arena in Skokie was recently awarded a $2,500,000 grant from the State of Illinois. These funds will go towards demolition and replacement of the concrete main rink surface (85’ x 200’), sub-floor heating and drainage system, all piping and insulation in the rink floor, all mechanical equipment in the refrigeration plant, hydronic heating system, evaporative condenser, dehumidification system, and dasher boards. Installation of LED light fixtures was also included in the grant award.

New Grant toolkit, the Illinois Department of Human Services has released a new tool to help organizations across the state comply with the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA). You can sign up for the tool HERE, additionally, DHS will be hosting a series of one-hour webinars to provide an overview of how the tool works. Each session is identical so please only register for one.

Wednesday, April 28th at 2 pm (register here)
Thursday, May 13th at 10 am (register here)
Tuesday, May 25th at 2 pm (register here)
Wednesday, June 9th at 10 am (register here)
Thursday, June 24th at 2 pm (register here)

Local Restaurant Savory Crust Gourmet Empanadas was recently awarded a grant through DoorDash’s Main Street Strong Accelerator Program! This grant has been awarded to 26 Chicagoland businesses with over three-quarters of grantees being women-owned businesses, 92% owned by people of color, and 40% immigrant-owned.

Teacher of the Year Nominations

Nominations are open now for the Illinois Teacher of the Year award, all public and non-public pre-K to 12th-grade educators with more than five years of teaching experience are eligible. If you are wanting to recognize the hard work our teachers have done this difficult year, you can nominate them online HERE, the deadline is Friday, April 23rd.

District Shout-out: Local New Trier Students

I want to thank our local New Trier High School students, including Benicio Becka, for visiting me for their annual Day of Service! They stopped by my office to hand me letters highlighting issues important them. I was excited to see our local students being engaged!

Events in the District

Earth Day is Thursday, April 22nd! Celebrate with the Glenview Park District on a virtual presentation “Gardening with Native Plants” on the 22nd from 5 to 6 PM. Learn about the benefits of using native vegetation in your garden that will help pollinators and other wildlife! You can register online, HERE.

Morton Grove Public Library is hosting “Sustainability at Home: Waste Reduction & Recycling Right” on Wednesday, April 21st at 10 AM in partnership with the Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability. You can register to participate HERE

Skokie Park District is hosting their annual Earth Day Celebration at Emily Oaks Nature Center, 4650 Brummel St, Skokie, IL 60076 on Sunday, April 25th from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. For more information on the event visit the Park District’s site HERE.

Where’s Jen?

  • MWRD Commissioner Josina Morita and I hosted a community vigil to support Asian Americans and condemn hate in all its forms. I was proud to stand alongside local elected officials, community, and faith leaders at Lovelace Park in Evanston. You can read about the event HERE.

(Photo courtesy of Syed Khalil Ullah)

  • I was honored to participate in the Jewish United Fund’s Yom Hashoah virtual remembrance ceremony on Thursday, April 8th to remember the lives lost during the Holocaust.
  • The Asian American Caucus and I hosted a briefing on the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act. We were joined by fellow elected officials, students, and teachers to discuss TEAACH. A recording of the briefing is viewable HERE.
  • I had the privilege of addressing Glenbrook South students for their International Women’s Day event. It was great to speak with local students about the work being done in the General Assembly this year.
  • I was interviewed by Meena Sharma, an Evanston Township High School student, for the annual Middle Eastern, North African and Asian Student Summit. We discussed my work in Springfield, including the TEAACH Act, how I became involved in politics and the changing demographics of of the General Assembly. You can watch the interview HERE.
  • State Senator Laura Fine, State Representative Robyn Gabel, and I hosted a virtual tour of the new Mandela: Struggle for Freedom exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum. Our community is lucky to have such an inspirational and uplifting story on display here at a local museum. If you are interested in attending a future virtual tour, you can sign up HERE. Additionally, the Museum is open for in-person visits; subject to all guidance under Phase 4 of Restore Illinois, you can purchase admission on their website HERE.

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