Harris

  • Harris announces $98,000 grant to South Suburban College adult literacy program and urges residents to volunteer

    harris 041420DOLTON – With South Suburban College set to receive over $98,000 from the Illinois Secretary of State to develop their adult literacy program, State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) urges residents to volunteer as tutors for the program to help adult learners hone their reading, math, writing and English-language skills.

    “Literacy is one tool to help people move out of poverty and get better paying jobs to support their families,” Harris said. “This funding is essential, but it’s also imperative that people contribute their time to help their neighbors learn—literacy skills benefit not only the struggling reader, but the entire community.”

    Adult literacy programs throughout Illinois will serve more than 13,500 students. Supported by $5.6 million in state funds, the programs will depend on nearly 6,000 volunteer tutors to provide skills training for students, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Adult literacy projects are focused on improving reading, writing and math skills for Illinois adults who read below the 9th-grade level or speak English at a beginning level. 

    The Secretary of State awards grants in these categories:

    • Adult Volunteer Literacy Grants provide training for volunteers who tutor people ages 17 and older in basic reading, math, writing or language skills. Participating literacy providers include libraries, volunteer tutoring organizations, community-based organizations, community colleges, regional offices of education, schools (individual and public), preschool programs, school districts, domestic violence shelters and correctional facilities.
    • Penny Severns Family Literacy Grants provide educational services to parents and children to enhance basic reading, math, writing or language skills. Programs must partner with an adult literacy provider, a child-at-risk agency and a public library.
    • The Workplace Skills Enhancement Project Grants provide onsite instructional services to employees of participating Illinois businesses, enabling them to enhance their basic reading, writing or language skills and improve their chances of promotion. Eligible employees must read at or below the 9th-grade level. Grantees must match the grant award and provide instructional services to prospective employees. The fiscal agent and submitting agency may be either the educational partner or the business partner.

    If you are interested in becoming a volunteer tutor, contact the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline at 800-321-9511.

  • Harris moves to declare Juneteenth a state holiday

    Juneteenth Info 1 FBSPRINGFIELD – To mark the anniversary of the end of slavery in the U.S., State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) has proposed legislation that would make June 19—also known as Juneteenth, or Freedom Day—a state holiday. 

    “It’s time Illinois recognizes and observes the day African Americans were actually given their freedom, not just on paper, but in practice,” Harris said. “Making June 19 a state holiday is a way to celebrate African Americans’ freedom and highlight not just how far we have come, but also remind us how far we have to go.”

    The legislation would declare June 19 Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Illinois.

  • Harris urges local businesses to apply for Business Interruption Grants

    harris 102919CHICAGO – State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) urges local businesses—particularly businesses in disproportionately impacted communities—to apply for more than $540 million in grant funding through the new Business Interruption Grant program. 

    “Disadvantaged communities need help now more than ever. Business owners are showing real determination to get through this pandemic, but it has been a challenge. This grant opportunity could provide the support they deserve,” Harris said. “I urge all local businesses in the area to apply for these grants to reduce some financial hardship.” 

    The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will offer $60 million in grants for the first round of BIG funding to small businesses harmed by the pandemic, many of whom have also seen damage as a result of recent civil unrest. The funds are intended to help small businesses stay viable through the pandemic, offset the cost of closures and restricted operations, and ensure they have the resources to reopen safely.

    Among other specific programs, DCEO plans to disburse $20 million across 1,000 grants of $20,000 each to businesses in disproportionately impacted areas with recent significant property damage. To qualify for these grants, businesses must have:

    • Brought in under $2 million in revenue in 2019, or a prorated amount if in business for less than a year;
    • Been in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020;
    • Experienced costs or losses of at least $20,000 since the Stay at Home order was put in place on March 21, 2020, due to closure or reduced operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
    • Experienced recent property damage, exacerbating the economic impacts of COVID-19.

    DCEO and its grant administration partners are scheduled to post applications this week for review and questions. Applications will be accepted June 24 through July 1. Applicants who are selected for the grants should hear from grant administration partners by early July, and grants are scheduled to be disbursed by the end of July.

  • Harris announces Markham emissions test center has reopened

    Senator HarrisMARKHAM - The Illinois Secretary of State has extended vehicle registration expiration dates by at least 90 days, but to ensure all motorists can renew their vehicle registrations before this deadline, State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) announced the reopening of the vehicle emissions testing center in Markham.

    “With the Illinois Secretary of State resuming services, people have to get emissions tests on their vehicles,” Harris said. “I want the South Suburbs to be able to do their part in protecting the environment, and that will only happen if they can access a testing site near them.”

    The Markham location was previously used as a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site to help expand testing availability across the state.

    The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office has extended vehicle registration expiration dates without penalty by at least 90 days, allowing motorists to wait to have their vehicles tested. Motorists who are not comfortable visiting an emissions testing center may revisit at a later date or have someone else bring in their vehicle for testing.

    Individuals 65 and older, healthcare workers, first responders and those with pre-existing health conditions are encouraged to visit the facility during the first testing hour of each day (8–9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 7:30–8:30 a.m. Saturday).

    Employees at the emissions testing center will be wearing face masks and practicing safe social distancing, and they ask that motorists take the same precautions.

  • Harris: In order to cure this infection, leaders must provide real hope and opportunity to the marginalized

    harris 041420DOLTON – In response to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey) released the following statement:

    “May 25, 2020 will forever be a day ingrained in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. From Central Park to Minneapolis, multimedia and social networks confirmed to the world the fears and omnipresent terror that have been steadfast companions to Black America’s 150-year journey through ‘Freedom in America.’

    “My grandfather, Bishop Napoleon Bill Harris Sr. served this country in the United States Air Force and was told he was expendable. However, while home from duty he was subjected to racial discrimination. He took action. He decided to take a stand and join the fight for civil and human rights. He was a part of the civil rights movement and was destined to create better conditions for his children, grandchildren, and future generations. I’ve learned from my grandfather that when injustice happens, action is required. As a young black man, father, husband, son, and legislator, I feel the pain and hurt of this generation and the African American community.

    “The young people of America have mobilized in unified outrage and it is time we acknowledged their cries. It is time we acknowledged the humanity and grievances of African-Americans throughout this country. We must not dishonor the tragic murder of George Floyd with empty rhetoric, inaction and mendacious critique of the outraged. Whether it be Jim Crow, disenfranchisement, disinvestment, miseducation, red-lining, mass-incarceration or the infamous ‘War on Drugs,’ institutional racism has systematically infected every aspect of our society. 

    “In order to cure this infection, leaders must provide real hope and opportunity to the marginalized. As citizens we must vote. And even more, we must hold our leaders and elected officials accountable. It is time we accept nothing short of tangible change. Policy or legislation will not root out the evil of racism. But it is a start and a charge I intend to lead. I sincerely look forward to working with you as we craft our plan. Prayers to the family of George Floyd and all the victims and families that have been affected by racial discrimination. We are with you both in thought and prayer and you will not be forgotten.”

  • Senate Black Caucus members stand with communities in calling for swift action

    Sen. Christopher Belt

    SPRINGFIELD—Senators of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus released the following statement after the protests and riots in Chicago brought on by racist acts of violence against countless African Americans, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor: 

    Senator Christopher Belt(D-Centreville), ILBC Senate Co-chair

    “In 1903, the great black scholar, W.E.B. Dubois, stated “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line. Here we stand in 2020, fighting for justice and equality because of that very same issue, the color line. That said, please understand this is not just ‘our’ problem, but rather, it is a ‘we’ problem. I am calling on my fellow legislators to stand with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to denounce this system of racial injustice that injures, destroys and kills not only people of color, but the very fabric of the American tapestry,” Belt said.

    Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood)

    “COVID-19 was not done showing us just how deep the inequities in our country are before we had another series of Black murders at the hands of racists in the headlines. It is exhausting to feel like you have been yelling at the top of your lungs for years without being heard, and I am deeply pained for our people forced to live in fear in the very country they helped build,” Lightford said. “I extend a call to action to my colleagues in the Illinois General Assembly and legislators across the country to hear the ache in the hearts of those who are fed up. We can only move forward by coming together to ensure every individual’s basic human rights are protected.”

    Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago)

    “What we are witnessing from many of the protestors is a demand for change—an acknowledgment that the status quo is unacceptable and must end. They are crying out, screaming to be heard and wondering aloud how many more will have to die before we finally recognize the sanctity of black lives,” Sims said. “As we fight tirelessly for justice, I ask that we don’t use lawlessness as a means to do it. I know there is an overwhelming need to be heard and understood. If no one else hears you, I do. I will continue to work relentlessly with leaders on all levels to fix our utterly broken system and hold bad actors accountable. We can, and we will, achieve change together.”

    Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago)

    "The story of this crisis isn’t the looting, it is the why, the what, and the how,” Peters said. “Why are people so mad? Why are people so hurt? What do people need? How are we going to help?"

    Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago)

    “Just in the last month, we’ve mourned the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and now George Floyd,” Van Pelt said. “How many more names must be said? Countless black lives were lost at the hands of police, failed under a system that was never meant to protect them, never meant to protect people that look like me. We can’t breathe, and haven’t been able to since we were abducted from the shores of our native land."

    Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago)

    "What we are witnessing today is the strange fruit sown by institutional racism and neglect. It has given us a harvest of poverty, mass incarceration, food and health deserts as well as educational inequity.  We are not only fighting a virus, but violence and vandalism. Yet, we should not conflate the peaceful protests and righteous indignation with the criminality of a few bad apples," Collins said.

    "The days ahead of us must be days of rebuilding and healing, but they must also be days of reform and accountability that save lives. We must come together with one voice to say 'Black Lives Matter.' If we do not have reform and accountability, then there can truly be no healing."

    Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago)

     “The deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are painful illustrations of the deep-rooted systems of oppression, and systems of protection for bad actors, that continue to burden African-American families. These murders sow further hopelessness, anger, and agony, which has been expressed over the past few days through widespread protests. While some have seen this as an excuse to commit shameful acts of destruction, it was heartening to see countless Chicagoans take to the streets to peacefully demand justice and make our voices heard in a productive way,” Hunter said.

    “Our path forward must not end with protests. Now is the time to harness our collective anger to galvanize a movement toward ending police violence and enacting transformational reforms centered around police accountability, transparency, and oversight.”

    Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago)

    "It is sickening that we have to continuously address the racial biases the criminal justice system has against Black Americans. It's evident how much racial disparity is prevalent throughout the justice system and how much officers believe we are so much of a threat to the country that we helped build.

    "The whole situation is just tiring, and a change is more than overdue. Even if you're not a part of the problem, you must be well aware of the harassment that blacks receive daily and how the media would rather paint a bad picture of us than be a part of the solution. 

    "We cannot solve this problem on our own. We profess no easy answers. It's obvious that real change will only happen when all of America believes Black Lives Matter."

    Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Dolton)

    “The young people of America have mobilized in unified outrage and it is time we acknowledged their cries. It is time we acknowledged the humanity and grievances of African-Americans throughout this country."

  • Harris announces Markham COVID-19 testing site will be moved to South Holland

    Jones cvd testing 041520DOLTON – The COVID-19 testing facility in Markham will be moved to South Suburban College in South Holland, State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Dolton) announced Friday.

    “It’s imperative that we keep testing available for the communities of the South Suburbs,” Harris said. “I am happy these COVID-19 testing services will continue be available and accessible to the residents who need it the most.”

    The final day of testing at the Markham Community Based Testing Site will be May 30, and the South Suburban College site in South Holland and will start testing patients June 1. Testing at the South Suburban College testing site will also be free.

    Vehicle emissions testing will resume at the Markham location June 1.

    All individuals with symptoms, as well as front line workers and those with compromised immune systems or other chronic medical conditions, are encouraged to seek testing at the South Suburban College testing site, located at 15800 State St. in South Holland. Testing services will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until daily supplies last.

  • Harris approves new investment to help small businesses

    Sen. Napoleon Harris IIIDOLTON — As many small businesses across the state worry about the financial hardships created by the COVID-10 pandemic, State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey) announced new funding for small business development centers to help businesses get through this difficult time. 

    “Small businesses across Illinois are dealing with a financial crisis from coronavirus restrictions,” Harris said. “Many of these owners have built their business from the ground up and have become the backbone of their community. Providing them with additional help will help them continue to stay afloat.”

  • Harris supports extended benefits for unemployed workers

    UnemploymentSPRINGFIELD – In an effort to continue to protect employees, State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) supported an initiative that encourages employers to provide the best protective measures possible in the workplace during the health emergency.

    “Throughout the duration of this pandemic, it has become clear that essential workers do not have the rights and protections they need and deserve,” Harris said. “These workers are making it possible for many businesses to continue to function during the crisis, and the employers should be grateful and prioritize their worker’s safety.”

  • Harris encourages high school graduates to apply for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation Scholarship

    harris 041420DOLTON – To help students who are seeking post-secondary education, State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey) is encouraging high school graduates to apply for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation (ILBCF) Scholarship. 

    “Many of our student’s families are not able to pay for college,” Harris said. “College is costly, so students should take advantage of this scholarship, especially since many have extra time on their hands right now.” 

  • Harris pleased Illinois dentists will be able to practice again

    harris 041420DOLTON – State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey) is pleased to learn the Illinois Department of Public Health has updated its guidance on allowing dental providers to resume routine oral and dental care beginning this week.

    “Being on a Stay At Home Order for nearly two months may have resulted in many people needing oral care,” Harris said. “IDPH allowing dentist’s office to reopen for routine care is a step forward and shows understanding that oral treatment is an essential service.”  

    IDPH says to yield good procedural outcomes, oral health providers should consider their patient's health care needs, assess the risks and benefits of any procedures, and appropriately screen patients for COVID-19. Patients will need to be symptom free and have their temperature taken. Dentists will need to address their use of masks, face guards, and suction devices.

    “Dental offices will have to follow health guidelines by providing their employees with PPE,” Harris said. “It’s important necessary precautions are taken into account for the patient and employee before dental offices reopen their doors.”  

    Dentists gave up their PPE in the early days of the pandemic for hospitals, first responders and nursing homes. Now they have difficulty getting what they need to resume dental care. 

    “Patients have been waiting to get back to their dentists and, even though now we have the green light from the IDPH, we are in need of PPE to meet their guidelines,” said Dave Marsh, Director of Governmental Affairs with the Illinois State Dental Society. “Of course, we recognize the highest priorities for PPE in health care settings, but we will be seeking a higher priority for masks and face shields for our profession.”

    More details from IDPH are here.

  • Harris announces expansion of COVID-19 testing in Black communities

    harris 041420DOLTON – To address the health disparities in minority neighborhoods, State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Havery) is announcing more COVID-19 testing sites on the Southside and Westside of Chicago.  

    “This pandemic has really shown the reality of the health gaps for underprivileged communities,” Harris said. “Health care needs to be equal for all racial backgrounds, which is why Gov. Pritzker’s expansion of testing to the southside and in other African-American communities across the state is so important.” 

    Pritzker announced a partnership between Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and four Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) on Chicago’s West and South Sides that will expand testing in these communities to an additional 400 tests per day. The expansion includes three locations in Illinois’ Metro East to assist communities in East St. Louis and the surrounding region, and another facility in the Markham-Harvey area of the South Suburbs.

    Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot brought attention to racial disparities in the number of deaths due to coronavirus, pointing out 72% of the city’s fatalities were African-Americans. She was one of the first government leaders to address the “death gap,” a topic now being discussed across the nation and world.

    “African-American communities were unfunded before this crisis happen,” Harris said. “The death toll data of African-Americans just shows the lack of resources these neighborhoods have always had and how we need to continue to address health care disparities.” 

    For more information or access to additional resources, please contact Senator Harris’ district office at 708-893-0552 or email here

  • Harris urges railroad companies to work with minority-owned businesses

    harris 040519SPRINGFIELD – To encourage diversity in the transportation industry, State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) is sponsoring legislation that urges the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) to submit procurement goals for female-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned and small business enterprises.

    “No industry is excluded from diversification,” Harris said. “These contracts can give a big boost to small and minority-owned businesses. When we ask railroad companies to set goals for diversity and inclusion, we are pushing them to help make that progress happen.”

    Currently, the Railroad Supplier Diversity Act allows each Class I railroad company to submit an annual report containing procurement goals and actual spending for female-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned and small business enterprises to the Illinois Commerce commission.

    Senate Bill 2304 would add the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) to the requirements for Class I railroads under the Railroad Supplier Diversity Act.

    There are currently seven Class I railroads: BNSF Railway, CN, Canadian Pacific, CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific. Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway are also considered Class I due to their significant trackage in the United States.

    The report requirements include information on outreach and expansion plans, points-of-contact for interested vendors, and suggestions for how the Commission could ease the vendor identification process. The reports would be required to include as much state-specific data as possible, but some national data could be used to supplement findings.

    Senate Bill 2304 passed the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday and now heads to the Senate floor for further debate.

  • Harris announces state grant that provides tax relief for South Suburbs

    Senator HarrisHARVEY – State Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey) recently announced a state grant that provides tax relief for several communities in his district.

    “I am happy to announce several school districts in the South Suburbs will receive property tax relief,” Harris said. “I understand there are more communities that can benefit from this grant and that’s why I hope more schools take advantage of the funding opportunity.”

    The Property Tax Relief Grant helps school districts with high tax rates relative to other school districts by giving them an opportunity to lower the property tax burden on local taxpayers with the state by replacing a portion of foregone tax revenue with state funds.

  • Harris assists Will County residents with winter clothing drive

    Sen. Napoleon HarrisSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Chicago) will help Will County residents stay warm during the winter by partnering with fellow lawmakers to launch a winter clothing drive.

    The Winter Clothing Drive will be from Nov. 25 to Dec. 13. Local and state elected officials will work with State Senator Jenifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) to provide organizations throughout the region with the necessary goods that benefit Will County residents.

    “I’m honored to join my colleagues to make sure residents of Will County have access to warm clothing during these extreme winter months,” Harris said. “Winters in the Midwest are brutal and people need warm gear to be able to withstand the cold weather.”

    Organizations are in need of all sizes of gently used or new winter gear including coats, socks, sweatshirts, scarves, gloves and more.

  • Harris: We still can’t trust the NCAA

    harris 102919SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) urged lawmakers across the county to continue pressuring the NCAA to allow student athletes to receive compensation for the use of their names, images, and likenesses. Though the NCAA announced it is planning to make changes, Harris is skeptical.

    “The NCAA put out a letter to stall lawmakers, because they were losing the power of being in control of every aspect of student athletes,” Harris said. “I will not be applauding them for doing nothing and will continue to work on my legislation to show that I am not trusting them to do what’s right.”

    Harris is the sponsor of Senate Bill 2278, allowing student athletes at Illinois colleges and universities to receive compensation from the use of their name, image, or likeness – a practice currently prohibited by the NCAA.

  • Harris supports economic development in Phoenix, Illinois

    harris 040519SPRINGFIELD –The City of Phoenix would see an extension on the sunset of their tax increment financing district from 2019 to 2031 under a proposal led by Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey).

    “Phoenix still needs time to recover from the economic hardships that hit the area,” Harris said. “From the loss of industry to the recession, there’s a long road ahead for rebuilding the city, and this measure assists with that process.”

    TIF districts are important for cities and towns going through economic trouble. They help attract private investment and bring new businesses to help with economic expansion.

    The TIF was created in 1996 and is set to expire at the end of 2019.

    House Bill 2931 was approved by the Senate Revenue Committee on Tuesday, and is scheduled to be heard by the full Senate.

  • Harris wants more minority-owned contractors hired by larger municipalities

    Senator HarrisSPRINGFIELD – To push for greater fairness and diversity in contract work, Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) proposed new legislation setting goals for larger municipalities to include minority-owned businesses.

    “There are minority-owned businesses across the state looking for opportunities to contract with the state,” Harris said. “We need our larger municipalities to help include those businesses by being more intentional about contracting minority businesses.”

  • Harris leads effort to increase state contracts with minority-owned businesses

    harris 040519SPRINGFIELD – To increase the amount of state contracts awarded to businesses owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities, Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) led a measure that was approved by the Senate on Thursday.

    Senate Bill 2035 requires the Department of Central Management Services to increase the number of state contracts issued to businesses owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities from 20 percent of the total dollar amount of state contracts to 30 percent.

    “We need to be bold about our commitment to businesses owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities,” Harris said. “One of the best things about our state is its diversity, and this proposal celebrates that by pushing for the investment of state dollars in businesses throughout all communities.”

    The proposal would set goals at 16 percent to minority-owned businesses, 10 percent to women-owned businesses and 4 percent to businesses owned by persons with disabilities.

    Furthermore, CMS is required to increase outreach efforts to businesses owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities.

    The measure heads to the House for consideration.

  • Harris pushes for larger municipalities to hire more minority-owned contractors

    Sen. Napoleon HarrisSPRINGFIELD – To push for greater fairness and diversity in contract work, Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) proposed new legislation setting goals for larger municipalities to include minority-owned businesses.

    “We need to ensure that minority-owned businesses are not being passed over as these municipalities continue to hand out millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and a good place to start is setting contracting goals,” Harris said.

    The legislation would set goals for cities which receive more than $1 million in state motor fuel taxes to hire more minority-owned and -operated businesses when awarding contracts. The measure is an effort to include more minority, veteran and woman-owned businesses in local government contracting.