The Rundown: Illinois’ push for a federal research agency

Plus, higher minimum wages and tax relief kick in today. Here’s what you need to know today.

nurse holding vaccine
A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 to be applied to children from 5 to 11 years old, in Mexico City, on June 27, 2022. Pedro Pardo/AFP / Getty Images
nurse holding vaccine
A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 to be applied to children from 5 to 11 years old, in Mexico City, on June 27, 2022. Pedro Pardo/AFP / Getty Images

The Rundown: Illinois’ push for a federal research agency

Plus, higher minimum wages and tax relief kick in today. Here’s what you need to know today.

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Happy Friday! Here’s hoping airlines will do a better job this weekend than they did the last two holidays. Good luck to everyone traveling this Fourth of July weekend. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Illinois wants to be home to a new federal health research agency

State leaders want the new $1 billion federal health research agency to open in the Chicago area, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health will focus on biomedical and health research that might not otherwise be done because of high risks, costs or lengthy commitments. The White House said the agency could try to develop an mRNA vaccine to prevent cancers or work to eliminate racial disparities in maternal mortality rates and premature births.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and 15 members of Illinois’ congressional delegation wrote a letter touting the state’s central location, access to airports and proximity to multiple top research universities and health systems.

“Chicago is a natural fit, with a rapidly growing health care and life sciences sector; world-class research universities; and a talented, diverse workforce,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

Illinois will have to compete against other states, including Georgia and Massachusetts. [Chicago Tribune]

2. Higher minimum wages and tax relief bills start today

The Illinois Family Relief Plan, which went into effect today, means the state’s 1% tax on groceries is gone until next year. And gas taxes won’t increase for the next six months.

Residents will also get more than $685 million in income tax rebate checks, and homeowners can expect $520 million in property tax credits. Checks will go out automatically, with distribution beginning in September. [Block Club Chicago]

Meanwhile, Chicago and Cook County’s minimum wages increase today.

However, the increase depends on the size of the company. At Chicago businesses with four to 20 employees, non-tipped workers will earn $14.50 per hour and tipped workers will be paid $8.70 per hour.

At larger Chicago businesses, the minimum wage increases to $15.40 per hour for non-tipped workers and $9.24 for tipped employees.

In Cook County, the minimum wage will increase to $13.35 for non-tipped workers and to $7.40 for tipped workers in Barrington Hills, Berwyn, Countryside, Deerfield, Dolton, Evanston, Glencoe, Kenilworth, McCook, Northfield, Oak Brook, Oak Park, Phoenix, Skokie, University Park, Western Springs, Wilmette and Winnetka. [Chicago Sun-Times]

3. Trailblazing women reflect on Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s elevation to the U.S. Supreme Court

When Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson this week became the first Black woman sworn into the Supreme Court, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said felt disheartened that it took so long and elated that it finally happened.

“I think Ketanji, her name, the way she wears her hair, her skin tone, what that means for me as a dark-skinned Black woman lawyer to see myself reflected in her presence — and she’s brilliant — is what I’m happy my daughters get to see,” Foxx told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Toni Preckwinkle, who became the first Black woman in her role as Cook County Board president when she was elected in 2010, said “It’s truly an affirmation, and she has an outstanding record of which we can all be proud. So, I wish her well.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted that Jackson is “now a history maker.”

“Young girls in America everywhere can look to her & be inspired to follow in her footsteps,” Lightfoot tweeted. [Chicago Sun-Times]

4. At least 19 people were killed by Russian missile strikes near Odesa, Ukraine

Ukrainian officials said today that two Russian missile strikes at a residential tower and recreational center near Odesa killed at least 19 people and injured dozens of others, the New York Times reports.

More than 100 people lived in the residential building that was hit. Sixteen people died and at least 37 others were killed. At the recreational center, three people died and one was injured, according to Ukrainian officials.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov denied that Russia was targeting civilian infrastructure.

Earlier this week a Russian missile attack hit a shopping mall in central Ukraine, which Group of 7 leaders called a “war crime.” [New York Times]

5. Simone Biles and John McCain are among those who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom next week

President Joe Biden will recognize actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles, the late Sen. John McCain and others with the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom NPR reports.

Biden, who received the honor in 2017, will present the medals at the White House next week.

The White House said the recipients “have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities, and across the world, while blazing trails for generations to come.”

Here’s what else is happening

  • Here’s your guide to celebrating the Fourth of July in Chicago. [Block Club Chicago]

  • A Chicago police officer was shot on the Near West Side. [Chicago Tribune]

  • Illinois is getting about 4,500 doses of monkeypox vaccine. [Chicago Tribune]

  • Think U.S. gas prices are high? Here’s how far $40 goes around the world. [Washington Post]

Oh, and one more thing …

My colleagues at Curious City wrote about traveling parties and how they’re a part of a queer Chicago culture of partying as resistance.

Back in the 1980s, Executive Sweet was a traveling party focused on Black lesbians. Creator Pat McCombs said she felt bars that discriminated against Black queer women didn’t receive enough punishment.

So she worked with Sharon Webb, a DJ from Chicago’s Austin neighborhood who longed to bring her talents to her community, to create a space centered on — but not exclusively for — Black lesbians.

Pretty soon, Executive Sweet had no trouble getting 1,000 people over the course of a night.

The parties were about building relationships, with activities designed to help women meet one another. Plus, there was food, raffles and themed attire. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

What are your plans for the Fourth of July weekend?

Janet writes:

“As an act of independence, I’m cleaning out mind, body, soul, and habits. So I can offer what skills and stuff I have for others. I’m getting rid of things and thoughts and behaviors which don’t serve.

I hope that will give me the freedom to enjoy being alive as a being who is one with the beautiful place we call Earth. Because when I see children explore the outdoors, when I watch a group of robins gather before they migrate, when I see the beauty of leaves on the ground in the autumn, when I feel bats slip through the air as I paddle at twilight, when I hear owls calling to each other at dusk and dawn…I am thoroughly not inside myself, but I am part of the whole. And, it is a joyous communion.”

Thanks for your responses this week! I’m sorry I couldn’t get to them all, but it was nice hearing from y’all.