Dear friend,


This past week in Springfield was marked by major reforms that came about as a result of months of public hearings and negotiations. These tackled everything from criminal justice and finances to education. Changes to the way workers are licensed to sell cannabis and improved coordination between hospitals were among other important things that passed and now await the governor’s signature to become law.


Read on for a breakdown of some of the most important measures that passed this past week.



State Senator, 7th District


Hospital and health care transformation


I sponsored legislation that brings to fruition one of my major goals from this past year: Empowering hospitals to forge new partnerships and transform themselves to better meet the needs of their communities.


Under Senate Bill 1510, up to $150 million in annual federal matching funds will enable health care institutions to forge partnerships with safety net hospitals, critical access hospitals and cross-provider networks. This ensures that hospitals receive stable funding while workforce development and racial equity analyses provided for under the bill will work to address systemic disparities. This will help major health institutions partner with other local hospitals to provide specialty care and strengthen the quality of care in parts of the state that need it the most. 


Criminal justice reform


House Bill 3653 passed the General Assembly this past week. This comprehensive criminal justice package contains many provisions that focus on police accountability, increase detainee and victims’ rights by streamlining the victims’ compensation system, and reform the judicial system with a special focus on ensuring that no one – regardless of race – is penalized for being poor. 


Among other things, House Bill 3653:

  •    Modernizes sentencing laws.
  •    Ends cash bail.
  •    Institutes certification & decertification system statewide for police officers.
  •    Requires the use of body cameras.
  •    Reforms crowd control response.
  •    Amplifies law enforcement training standards.
  •    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.
  •    Creates two police misconduct databases for public viewing and transparency.
  •    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.


Education reform


House Bill 2170, another policy pillar of the Black Caucus, tackled education reform at all levels in Illinois. Here are some changes it made:


For early childhood schooling, the bill:

  • Allows children to continue to access Early Intervention services until the beginning of the school year after they turn 3.
  • Codifies the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.
  • Requires the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to make recommendations on how to create a diagnostic system that would allow Medicaid to pay for some Early Intervention services.
  • Expresses support for the recommendations of the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding.
  • Urges the state to increase the availability of Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultations.


For K-12 education, the bill:

  • Requires two years of laboratory science and a foreign language (or sign language) to graduate high school, starting in the 2024-2025 school year.
  • Adds a one-year course with an intensive computer literacy focus to the required high school curriculum.
  • Requires schools to automatically enroll students in the next level of advanced coursework if they meet or exceed state standards in that subject matter – including Advanced Placement courses.
  • Creates an inclusive American history curriculum to reform the Black history curriculum and curriculums for teaching about other minority groups.
  • Creates a Whole Child Task Force to address trauma in children and create an equitable, inclusive, safe, and supportive environment for all children.
  • Creates grant-funded Freedom Schools to expand teaching of Black history, the civil rights movement, and leadership.


In higher education, the bill:

  • Creates English and math placement requirements at community colleges.
  • Changes the matching requirement for AIM High scholarships. Allows schools with more than 49% Pell Grant recipients averaged over three years to pay a 20% match, while schools with less must pay a 60% match.
  • Supports the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s efforts to identify more race conscious and equitable ways to fund higher education.


The Senate also passed House Bill 2275, which restores certain collective bargaining rights to Chicago teachers on things like the length of school day and year, reductions in the workforce, use of pilot programs, class size, staff size, and other things. It also removes a mandate that labor disputes within Chicago Public Schools go to arbitration rather than a strike after a 60-day impasse.


Chicago schools in particular are suffering from overcrowded classes, nursing shortages, and staffing shortages. Teachers need the power to bargain for changes that help our students and our schools.


Financial reform


Major economic reforms also passed last week under SB 1980, SB 1480, SB 1608 and SB 1792. Included were:

  • Equal Pay: The state is prohibited from contracting with a private business with more than 100 employees that does not have an equal pay certificate.
  • Payday lending: Predatory payday loan rates are now limited to 36%, among other measures to hold such lenders accountable.
  • A Community Reinvestment Act for Illinois, which requires covered financial institutions to meet certain financial services needs of local communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and areas where there is a lack of access to safe and affordable banking.
  • The Illinois Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Matching Funds Program are both reinstated. Those programs award matching grants to startup and research businesses that receive federal grants.


Secure ballot drop boxes


House Bill 3994 allows election authorities to establish permanent ballot drop boxes to accept vote-by-mail ballots. 


This measure came directly from election authorities who heard concerns from some voters who weren’t comfortable with mailing their ballots. According to the election authorities, these voters wondered if the ballots would be delivered on time, if they would be lost in the mail and if they needed stamps – among other concerns. With this measure, many voters will have an additional way to safely cast their ballots.


Free meal program through Chicago Public Schools to continue


CPS will continue to offer free meals to the community. Any child under the age of 18 can receive a three-day meal kit at over 450 CPS locations across the city. You do not have to be a CPS student to receive a meal. Families just need to inform cafeteria staff how many children are in their household and they will receive meals for each child. The grab & go meal service is provided Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.





Dear friends,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration! Now it’s time to turn our minds to a day keeping with the spirit of the season: Giving Tuesday.

Today is a day to reflect on our own blessings and try to pay it forward. As you’re contemplating your own holiday giving, consider the network of organizations that serve our community and could use your support. These groups help our neighbors put food on the table, settle in new homes and stay warm during the winter.

If you can lend a helping hand, please review the list of donation opportunities for nonprofit and social service organizations in District 7 here.

To ensure your donation makes the biggest possible impact, I encourage you to explore how these organizations have changed operations during the pandemic. For example, some organizations are asking for e-gift cards or directing donors to an Amazon Wishlist this year to help protect donors, volunteers and the community.

If there is a local organization you feel should be added to this list, please reply to this email or call my office at 773-769-1717 with their information.

Stay well – don’t forget to wash your hands frequently and wear a mask to help keep our friends, family and neighbors safe this holiday season.


Heather Steans
State Senator, 7th District

Our hospitals are under heavy stress due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, and if we continue on our current course, they may soon become overwhelmed.

Doctors and nurses are doing their best to care for us—we need to do our part, too.

To contain the spread of the virus, Gov. JB Pritzker has instituted new Tier 3 resurgence mitigations across the state that began today, Friday, Nov. 20 at 12:01 a.m.

Tier 3 mitigations include new guidance for all industries:




Read more ...

Dear friend,


Yesterday, Mayor Lightfoot announced new COVID-19 mitigations in Chicago to reverse the worsening trends of hospitalizations and deaths. In addition to targeted regulations and a new information campaign, these measures also include a Stay at Home Advisory. I urge you to familiarize yourself with this new information and to follow these new guidelines. The pandemic is only worsening, but we can all work together to prevent its spread.


You can read full details of the “Protect Chicago” campaign here.


As part of "Protect Chicago", the Mayor has instituted a Stay at Home Advisory that will go into effect on Monday, Nov. 16 at 6 a.m. Residents are strongly encouraged to only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up take-out food, or receiving deliveries. When you do leave home, wear a face covering and practice social distancing by staying six feet away from others.


We also need to put off any gatherings, something I know can be painful. It is strongly advised you not have guests in your home unless they are essential workers (e.g., home health care providers, child care workers or educators), that you cancel traditional Thanksgiving celebrations, and that you avoid travel.


In accordance with the Stay at Home Advisory, the City will also impose and enforce attendance limits on meetings and special events to no more than 10 people. Effective Monday, Nov. 16, at 6 a.m., all indoor or outdoor events and meetings, such as weddings, birthday parties, and other events taking place at banquet halls, event venues or similar spaces will be limited to no more than 10 people. Existing capacity guidelines at establishments such as fitness clubs, retail stores, movie theaters or performance venues, will remain unchanged.


Businesses can continue operating under the existing COVID-19 regulations, with the addition of the new 10-person limit on events. You can find the latest information on these regulations at As I have throughout this pandemic, I encourage you, if you are a business owner, to do everything you can to accommodate things like home delivery or curbside service.


Remember that the City’s Executive Order 2020-9 also states that indoor gatherings within private residences cannot exceed six non-household members.


Please see below for details of certain COVID-19 regulations for specific businesses, and visit for an overview of all of the requirements.


Bars and Restaurants

Per state order, indoor service is not permitted at bars and restaurants. Outdoor service is allowed, which includes the following:

  • Rooms with retractable roofs
  • Rooftops
  • Tables that are within eight feet of a wall, provided that the wall is open at least 50%
  • tents and other multi-party outdoor enclosures with at least 50% of the sides open (note- fully enclosed tents are considered indoors and are not permitted)
  • Structures that hold one party, such as plastic domes, with adequate ventilation


For a full overview of outdoor dining regulations, visit


Bars and restaurants can only hold private events in locations that are designated and typically used for private events only. Main bars or restaurant space cannot be used for private events. Furthermore, event capacity is limited to no more than 10 people effective Monday, Nov. 16.


Bars and restaurants must continue to close at 11 p.m. Carry-out, delivery or curbside pick-up of food may continue past 11 p.m., but the sale of alcohol must cease. Outdoor tables must be six feet apart, with no more than six people per table, and face coverings must be worn at all times except when actively eating and/or drinking.



Under the Retail Guidelines, non-essential retail is limited to 40% capacity and essential retail is limited to 50% capacity. Furthermore, establishments are required to limit total gatherings of employees/customers within any one area (i.e. checkout area) to no more than 50 people. Face coverings must be worn at all times. Non-essential retail must be closed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., while essential retail is not subject to curfew.


Performance Venues

Under the Performance Venue Guidelines, establishments may operate at 40% capacity or 50 people, whichever is smaller. Performance venues must close at 11 p.m. per the non-essential business curfew. Establishments may sell food or drink for carry-out, delivery, curbside pick-up or for patrons to consume at their seats, but common dining areas must be closed. Patrons must maintain six feet of social distancing, and performers must remain 10 feet away from patrons. Face coverings must be worn at all times, although performers can remove masks while performing.


Health and Fitness Centers

Under the Health and Fitness Center Guidelines, establishments may operate at 40% capacity. Face coverings must be worn at all times, and establishments must be closed between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. per the non-essential business curfew. Social distancing of six feet must be maintained at all times. Fitness classes are limited to no more than 15 people, while adhering to the 40% capacity limitation and six feet of social distancing.


Personal Services

Under the Personal Services Guidelines, establishments may operate at 40% capacity. Face coverings must be worn at all times, with the exception of services that require their removal, such as beard shaves or facials. Establishments must close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. per the non-essential business curfew.


Places of Worship

Under the Places of Worship Guidelines, regular services are limited to 40% capacity or 50 people, whichever is smaller. However, effective Monday, Nov. 16 at 6 a.m., all events, such as weddings and funerals, must be limited to no more than 10 people. Face coverings must be worn at all times and six feet of social distancing must be maintained.


For an overview of other COVID-19 industry regulations, visit


If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me through my website at Together, we can fight the spread of COVID-19.



State Senator, 7th District

COVID19 Updates

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5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
Office: 773-769-1717
Fax: 773-769-6901

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Springfield, IL 62706
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