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How a Bill becomes Law in Illinois
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Once a bill has been drafted by the Legislative Reference Bureau, the sponsor introduces it in chamber.  Representatives introduce bills in the House, Senators introduce bills in the Senate.  Bills are designated either House Bills or Senate Bills, depending on where they originate.  Even when the bill moves to the other chamber, the original designation remains (the bill's house of origin).

Bills are numbered in order from the time of introduction and continues throughout the entire General Assembly session, which is two years long.  Once the General Assembly session ends, all pending bills die and the numbering starts over the new General Assembly session.  Legislation that dies in a session can be reintroduced in the new session and will be given a new number.

After the bill is introduced, it is on "first reading."  All bills must be "read" to the chamber three times.  This does not mean that the entire text is read, just the bill number and title are read aloud by the Clerk of the House or Secretary of the Senate.

Once the bill is read aloud the first time, it moves to the Rules Committee (House bills) or Assignments Committee (Senate bills).  The committee members review the bills and decide if a bill will be assigned to a committee, and if yes, which one.

Standing committees are permanent and last between General Assemblies.  There are also special committees that deal with specific pressing concerns.

Each committee concentrates on a specific area, such as insurance, or education, and bills are assigned based on subject matter.  Although there may be bills of interest in other committees from time to time, the IPTA primarily follows legislation assigned to:

House Committees:

  • Health & Health Care Disparities
  • Health Care Availability& Access
  • Health Care Licenses
  • Insurance Health & Life
  • Labor & Commerce

Senate Committees:

  • Insurance
  • Licensed Activities & Pensions
  • Public Health

During a committee hearing, the bill's sponsor explains the bill to the committee members, who can ask questions of the bill sponsor.  The bill's proponent, generally an individual representing the interest group who asked that the bill be introduced, will often be present to explain in more detail why the bill is proposed and may answer questions about the bill.  Lobbyists, interest group representatives, and private citizens may also testify their opposition or support of a bill.

After all the testimony is complete, the committee votes on the bill.  A simple majority is need to pass a bill out of committee.  If a bill receives the required number of votes, it passes out committee and goes to the full chamber.  If it does not received the required number of votes, the bill remains in committee where it can be voted on again, or will remain with no further action taken. Bills can also be deferred until the time that a bill sponsor wants the bill called in committee.  This happens when opposing parties are working to make changes that they can agree on.

Changes to a bill are called amendments, and they are heard in committee in the same manner as the original bill. 

After a bill passes out of committee, it is on "second reading." The title and bill number are again read to the chamber and the clerk or secretary also informs the membership if any amendments have been filed.  Bill on second reading can still be amended.  Regardless whether there is an amendment, the full chamber must vote to pass the bill to "third reading."

Bills are "third reading" are read for a third time and discussion and a vote on the bill, including all amendments, take place in the full chamber. A simple majority is required to pass the bill out of chamber.

In the second chamber, the engrossed bill (all amendments are incorporated into the bill) goes through the same process again, including finding a sponsor in that chamber.

If the second chamber passes the same version of the bill, the bill has passed the General Assembly and it is sent to the Governor for his signature to sign the bill into law. 

If the second chamber adds any amendments to the bill, the bill must return to the chamber of origin for a concurrence vote. 

Once the bill has passed the General Assembly, the legislature must send the bill to the Governor within 30 days.  Once the bill reaches the Governor's desk, three things can happen.

  1. The Governor can choose to do nothing.  If no action is taken within 60 days after the bill reaches the Governor, it automatically becomes law.
  2. The Governor can sign the bill into law exactly as it is.  When a bill becomes law, by whatever means, it is called a Public Act and is assigned a Public Act number.
  3. The Governor can veto the bill one of two ways.  A total veto means the Governor vetoes the entire bill.  An amendatory veto is when the Governor makes specific recommendations for changes to the bill that, if made, he/she will sign the bill into law.  This is also called a "veto message." 

In the case of a veto (either type), the General Assembly can:

  1. Do nothing and the bill is dead.
  2. Override the veto by a 3/5th vote in both chambers.
  3. In the case of an amendatory veto, the legislature may agree with recommendations made by governor by a simple majority vote and the bill becomes law

Generally speaking, sessions begin in January and end at the end of May.  Veto session is held towards the  of the calendar year, usually in late October, November or December.

2020 is the second year of the 101st General Assembly session and the new, 102nd session will begin in January, 2021.


Updated 05.01.2020



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