Dear friend,

 

Thanks to the many Illinoisans who maintained social distancing measures, wore masks in public, and took care to watch out for neighbors, Illinois’ COVID-19 positivity rate continues to fall.  While we are not done fighting this virus, Illinois continues to see less infection, suffering and deaths as a result of it.

 

With Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan set to take effect June 26, including Chicago’s Phase IV, we will see gyms, movie theaters, museums, zoos and restaurants reopen under cautious public health guidelines that will include continued social distancing and face covering requirements. Gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed under these same guidelines.

 

Here are some activities you can expect to resume in these new reopening phases in the City of Chicago and statewide:

  • As child care centers continue to reopen, health screenings will be required for children before entry into classrooms, and children are required to wear face coverings while not in classrooms.
  • Customers are still required to wear face coverings in retail and all other public settings while indoors. In indoor dining venues, customers must wear masks when not seated.
  • Venues, meeting spaces and select indoor facilities (including bowling alleys, skating rinks and clubhouses) can reopen with occupancy restrictions.
  • Restaurants can resume indoor dining for parties of up to 10 people, as long as tables are 6 feet apart and standing areas are limited to 25% capacity. Outdoor dining is allowed with proper social distancing between tables.
  • Museums, zoos, theaters and other cultural attractions can reopen with 50-person occupancy restrictions and staggered entrance and exit times to prevent crowding at checkpoints.
  • Outdoor spectator sports can resume with certain safety measures.
  • Splashpads remain closed.

 

If progress continues to be made and Chicago reaches fewer than 100 new cases per day, capacity restrictions will be loosened further during Phase IV. A full list of guidelines by industry is available at the City of Chicago’s website here, and for the status of COVID-19 statewide visit coronavirus.illinois.gov—the site is updated continually to ensure you have access to the latest and most accurate statistics.

 

Please continue to use face coverings in public and respect social distancing requirements. These measures will ensure we don’t see a spike in cases that could cause us to move back to previous phases.

 

With questions about the state’s Phase 4 or the city’s Phase IV or other issues facing our state, please reach out to my office via email here, and we will do our best to assist you.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

Dear friend,

 

Over the past few months, I’ve been working with community leaders and fellow lawmakers to lend a hand to those struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest.

 

As I’m sure you’re aware, these events have hit our small business community particularly hard—but there is help available.

 

The Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program is a series of grants totaling over $540 million for shops, restaurants, salons, fitness centers and more to help them stay afloat through this time of crisis and ensure they have the resources to open safely in the coming months.

 

 

 

 

The first round of BIG funding will award $60 million to 3,500 businesses. Here’s how those funds will be distributed:

 

Businesses in disproportionately impacted areas will receive $20 million in grants to offset the cost of recent property damage.

 

The program will award 1,000 grants of $20,000 each to businesses who have suffered property damage in recent weeks.

 

Businesses must have been operating for at least three months prior to March 2020 and must have brought in less than $2 million in revenue in 2019.

 

Bars and restaurants who cannot operate during Phase 3 will receive $20 million in grants to support them through closures. 

 

The program will award 1,000 grants of up to $20,000 each to restaurants who have been unable to resume service during Phase 3, whether due to prohibition by local ordinance, lack of access to outdoor space or financial infeasibility.

 

Half of the grants will go to businesses in disproportionately impacted areas, with a focus on areas having recently suffered property damage.

 

Establishments must have been operating for at least three months prior to March 2020 and must have brought in less than $3 million in revenue in 2019.

 

Barbershops and salons will receive $10 million in grants to help them cope with closure-related revenue losses.

 

The program will award 1,000 grants of $10,000 each to barbershops and salons who were forced to close due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Half of the grants will go to businesses in disproportionately impacted areas, with a focus on areas having recently suffered property damage.

 

Businesses must have been operating for at least three months prior to March 2020 and must have brought in less than $500,000 in revenue in 2019.

 

Fitness centers will receive $10 million in grants to ensure they can reopen safely when restrictions are lifted.

 

The program will award 500 grants of $20,000 each to facilities that have suffered significant losses due to closure or reduced operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Health or fitness service providers without a permanent location—such as those who deliver remote services or travel to different client locations—are not eligible to receive funds.

 

Nearly a third of grants will go to facilities in disproportionately impacted areas.

 

Facilities must have been operating for at least three months prior to March 2020 and must have brought in less than $2 million in revenue in 2019.

 

Applications for these programs will open Monday, June 22 and will remain open for 7-14 days. One week after the application period closes, grant administration partners will begin reaching out to recipients.

 

DCEO will post a full list of eligible costs and covered losses alongside each grant application. Businesses that have not received other grants and loans will be given priority. 

 

I hope this information will be useful to you or a business owner you know. I encourage you to share these details with your friends, family and neighbors, to see if they know someone who may benefit from the BIG program—it’s vital that we reach out to help one another during these challenging times. 

 

As applications open, deadlines approach and more grants are made available, I will be sure to keep you informed. If you have questions about the BIG program or other issues facing our community, don’t hesitate to reach out to my office via email here.

 

Sincerely,

Heather Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

CHICAGO – State Senator Heather Steans issued the following statement on news the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of extending Title VII employment protections to LGBT workers:

“This decision represents long-overdue acknowledgment that LGBT people deserve protection against arbitrary discrimination on the job,” Steans said. “I hope this decision also serves as the basis to undercut the president’s cruel move last week to deny trans Americans the right to medical care. This decision is justice for the LGBT community.”

The Supreme Court’s decision applies to two sets of cases. One involved a pair of lawsuits from gay men alleging they were fired because of their sexual orientation, and the other involved a suit from a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who alleged she was fired when she revealed her gender identity to her employers.

The ruling explicitly establishes that workplace discrimination against LGBT people violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a conclusion first drawn by federal courts in Chicago and New York.

“In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee's sex when deciding to fire that employee,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in his ruling for the majority. “We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.”

State Senator Heather Steans issued the following statement in response to Gov. JB Pritzker’s signing of the state’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year:

“These budget negotiations were challenging in ways we could not have imagined even a few months beforehand,” Steans said. “This is a preservation budget, one aimed at maintaining our funding levels in the most important areas at a time when these services have never been more crucial.”

While making $1 billion in cuts in comparison to the governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget, Senate Bill 264 increases funding to the Dept. of Children and Family Services and programs that help seniors and the developmentally disabled live independently in their homes – especially crucial as the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding for schools and public safety are preserved at their current levels under the plan, while programs that are truly crucial in responding to COVID-19 will see increases, including senior meals programs, home care and respite services, DCFS, and other programs that help the developmentally disabled and their families.

Included in the budget this year:

  • $8.9 billion for P-12 education, an increase of $12.7 million when compared to what was enacted in FY 20, including an increase of $6.77 million to evidence-based funding to ensure all schools’ funds are level and an additional $11 million over the previous year for mandated categoricals such as transportation.
  • Level funding for early childhood education.
  • Level funding for higher education.
  • An increase over FY 20 of $43 million to public safety agencies, including increases to violence prevention and reduction programs, two new classes of State Police cadets, and 280 additional staff and equipment, commodities, and supplies to improve operations at the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Chicago.
  • A $438 million increase to human services, with funding that includes:
    • Increases to the Community Care Program and similar home care services like Home Delivered Meals, Adult Protective Services, Senior HelpLine and area agencies on aging.
    • $299.5 million increase to DHS to cover Rehab Services, the Mental Health Division, the Developmental Disabilities Division, substance abuse prevention, and Child Care Assistance, among others.
    • $178.5 million increase to DCFS to hire 123 additional direct service staff, with the goal of improving the state’s caseload ratios. Includes step pay for union employees.
  • $19.1 million increase to the Dept. of Public Health, as well as $600 million in new federal funding to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • $447.4 million increase of state funding and a $780 million increase in federal funding to HFS, covering increased Medicaid liability.
  • Most state agencies will remain at or very near level funding compared to the previous year. Overall, a total of about $1 billion in cuts to the governor’s original proposed FY 21 budget are reflected in the final plan passed by the General Assembly.

The budget also makes the state’s full pension payment.

“Failing to meet this obligation, even in light of our current circumstances, was not an option,” Steans said. “As we adjust to severely reduced revenues from nearly all sources, it’s our duty to protect our state’s bond rating.”

Steans also said the budget’s $5 billion in borrowing was necessary in light of the devastation wrought by COVID-19-related business closures.

“I stand behind this decision as we look forward to a year where our state will be reeling from historically unprecedented hardship,” Steans said. “It is true that borrowing now costs money later, but we’ve seen, very recently, what happens when the state simply abandons its obligations. If we were to see the same indolence we did during the Rauner years now, in a pandemic, it would be a true humanitarian crisis.”

The governor signed the budget Tuesday, contained within Senate Bill 264 and House Bill 357.

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