The 102nd General Assembly is progressing quickly and I’m pleased to report that I have passed several bills through committee, an important step towards becoming law. Despite the difficulties posed by COVID-19, the 2021 legislative session looks promising.
We have a great deal of work to do to help our state recover from the dual public health and economic crises caused by this pandemic. We also have a responsibility to create a more equitable Illinois for all people. As your representative in Springfield, I will continue to focus on each of these issues.
Please read below for my legislative update as well as important information from state agencies and district news, including new COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites for Cook County residents.
As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, I urge you to reach out to my staff at 847-486-8810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz
Remote Committees Begin
Under new rules adopted in February, the House held its first remote committee hearings this month and we will return to Springfield this week to start hearing bills on the floor that have made it through the committee process. While adapting to remote legislating has its challenges, I’m grateful for the opportunity to move forward again with legislation that was put on hold after the outbreak of the pandemic last year.
My first bill to pass out of committee is HB 25, which establishes the “Task Force on Counsel in Immigration Proceedings” to study the implementation of universal representation for individuals subject to removal proceedings in Illinois. Providing access to counsel is essential to due process, maintains the integrity of the immigration system and proceedings are often more efficient. My goal is to ensure that no one is left to navigate a process that threatens the deprivation of life, liberty or property without legal representation.
Another important measure I moved out of committee this month is HB 370, which passed unanimously out of the Judiciary – Civil Committee to prevent the abuse of the Illinois guardianship process by parents who have exploited a loophole in the current law to qualify their children for need-based college financial aid and scholarships that they would not otherwise receive. When this legislation becomes law, it will prevent people without a financial need from taking advantage of a program meant for students for whom it’s essential.
Among other bills I advanced this month is HB 9, which would modernize technical aspects of the Vital Records Act to remove barriers to changing the gender designation on birth certificates in Illinois by allowing self-attestation. This aligns with the requirements for Illinois driver’s licenses that do not require a doctor’s note and is consistent with the law in twelve other jurisdictions. Most important, inclusive designations on birth certificates affirms the dignity of trans and gender non-binary Illinoisans.
Make a Plan to Vote April 6th!
The consolidated municipal elections across the district are right around the corner. Help elect leaders and board members for your village, library, park district, school district, and township.
- Early voting starts March 22nd and ends April 5th.
- Order your mail-in ballot by April 1st fromwww.cookcountyclerk.com/
votebymail and return it on or before April 6th!
- Learn more about candidates by viewing forums conducted by the League of Women Voters of Glenview/Glencoe on their YouTube page HERE.. Or visit the Illinois Voter Guide website https://illinoisvoterguide.
org/ maintained by the League of Women Voters of Illinois.
COVID-19 Recovery: vaccines, rental and mortgage relief
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 when your group is eligible for the vaccine. You can view the site here: https://www.
Illinois is in phase 1B+ for COVID-19 vaccinations. Illinois entry into 1C has not yet been determined and will depend on vaccine production and availability.
Vaccine Distribution. With the recent approval of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, Illinois received 105,400 doses the week of March 8th (22,300 to Chicago and 83,100 to the rest of the State). Additionally, Pfizer and Moderna have been increasing their deliveries to Illinois. The week of March 15th, Illinois will receive 4,680 more Pfizer vaccines and 18,720 more Pfizer vaccines for a total of 341,640 first and second doses.
United Center and Des Plaines Vaccination Sites now open. Residents of Cook County eligible under phase 1B+ can now schedule an appointment, subject to availability. The vaccine will be offered at no cost, and insurance is not required. Documentation regarding immigration status is also not required. Residents have two options for making appointments: online and through a call center.
- For both the United Center and Des Plaines mass vaccination sites you may register online via vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or call 833-308-1988 Monday through Friday between 7 AM and 7 PM.
- Note: both of these sites do not apply for residents of Skokie or Evanston. Who can be vaccinated through their own respective health departments.
Cook County Community Recovery Initiative. Cook County has opened applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, applications are open through April 2nd. To check your eligibility and file an application online visit the County’s website HERE.
COVID-19 Mortgage Relief. Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) wants to remind you if you have a federally-backed mortgage and have been affected by COVID-19 you may qualify for Mortgage relief under the CARES Act. Contact CVLS at 312-332-8785 or via email at email@example.com to see if you qualify.
Tax and Utility Assistance
With tax season underway, the Illinois Department of Revenue reminds seniors that Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and AARP Tax-Aide programs that provide free basic income tax return assistance, are accepting appointments.
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly, or call (800) 906-9887
- AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Online, or call (888) 227-7669
- LadderUP primarily for low-to-moderate income families
Utility Assistance. ComEd urges customers who are struggling to cover energy expenses to call to see if they are eligible for financial-assistance programs while funding is available. You can call ComEd at 1-800-334-7661 Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Information on available programs can be found at ComEd.com/PaymentAssistance.
Rock the FAFSA!
District Shout-out: Glenview Parks and New Trier District 203
Government works best when we use all the assets in the district to strengthen our communities. This month we give a shout-out to our partners at the Glenview Park District and New Trier School District 203.
- The Glenview Park District has hosted the Covid-19 testing site at Flick Park since Jan. 6th. Over 6,000 residents have used the service, keeping our community healthy and aware. Thanks to the Glenview Park District and North Shore Clinical for running the site! Note: the Flick Park testing site is scheduled to remain open until April 30th. You can make an appointment HERE.
- New Trier partnered with the Cook County Dept. of Public Health and Board of Commissioners to stand up a mass vaccination site at its Northfield Campus starting in late February. Hat tip to administrators, teachers, students, and parents for the flexibility and community spirit!
Events in the District
Spring is here, which means it’s time to do some planting and summer planning!
Summer School and Camp Sign-ups. Many schools and park districts as well as independent facilities are offering more programs this summer. Check websites for dates, offerings, and capacity management strategies.
Go Green Wilmette Webinars. Learn how to help the environment around your own home.
Recycling Demystified, March 24, 7 pm Register now.
Hustle Event for Asthma/COPD Awareness. April 18th, Soldier Field. This year the annual Hustle Up the Hancock sponsored by Respiratory Health Association (RHA) will be outside to keep everyone safe. Learn more about the event byclicking here.
Yom HaShoah. April 8th marks Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Jewish United Fund is working with partner organizations to host a virtual remembrance program. Information on how to participate can be found HERE
Virtual College Fair. Tribune Publishing is working with dozens of colleges across the country to host a virtual college fair from March 4th through the 20th. You can see a list of schools, speakers, and topics on their website HERE.
- The House has been busy holding remote committee hearings ahead of our scheduled return to Springfield this month. I have been listening to many different pieces of legislation coming in front of my committees, as well as presenting on my own bills. You can follow along with committees as well as the Spring Legislative Session via the Illinois General Assembly website HERE.
- Attended Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center’s 20th Annual Town Hall Meeting on mental health on March 5th. A recording of the event will be posted HERE.
- My bill, HB25 was featured in the Daily Herald, you can read about it HERE.