Illinois Legislative History

Legislative history refers to the chronology of events, statements and documents occurring as a bill progresses towards becoming law. A statute's true intent may be discerned by studying remarks made by sponsor(s) of legislation as to intent in introducing a bill, or by examining the comments of other legislators as to their understanding of a bill's purpose.

Find the Bill Number

Legislation is assigned a bill number during consideration and before reaching Public Act status.

  • Illinois Compiled Statutes REF.KFI.1229.I44 If you have a citation for a bill number, go to the end of that statutory section, examine the history of enactments that created or amended the statute, and note the Public Act number(s).
  • Laws of the State of Illinois ILL. 348 ILLI 2- (IL Govt. Publications, 2nd Floor). Public Acts are arranged chronologically; below the Public Act number and subject terms is the original bill number with its House or Senate Bill No. prefix. Look for a purpose or findings statement not included in the text of the statute. Bills are renumbered at the beginning of each General Assembly, so the number of the General Assembly is as important as the bill number itself. Some fiche are labeled by year rather than Assembly # so researchers should also note year.

Find the text of the House or Senate bill

The texts of Illinois House and Senate bills are available in microfiche arranged by General Assembly numbers. In most cases headers on the top left corner of the fiche indicate the first and last bill number on each fiche. House bills on microfiche are numbered 136 (MFICHE 136), then arranged chronologically; Senate bills on microfiche are numbered 139 (MFICHE 139) , then arranged chronologically. Note any differences in the text of the Public Act and the original bill.

Find amendments to the original bill

  • The Legislative Synopsis and Digest REF.J87.I3 is arranged by General Assembly and bill number. It provides: name(s) of sponsor(s), summary, dates of consideration in both chambers, date signed into law, Public Act number, and effective date.
  • The Journal of the Illinois Senate REF.J87.I3B, 1990-2006 (earlier editions, MF 142) and the Journal of the Illinois House REF.J87.I3C, 1990-2000 (earlier editions, MF 138) contain Amendments printed on the days on which the amendments were proposed.

Find similar bills

Other bills introduced in the same or previous session may provide insight on the meaning of the bill you are researching.

  • The Legislative Synopsis and Digest REF.J87.I3 Review the legislative history of bills both enacted and not enacted for the same or a previous session.

Find Debates

Sponsors and legislators may comment on a bill during its second or third reading.

  • Legislative Synopsis and Digest ILL. 328.2 L (IL Govt. Publications- 2nd Floor)
  • The Index to the Transcripts of the House Debates REF.KFI.1210.H5 or (MF 137)
  • Index to the Transcripts of the Senate Debates REF.KFI.1210.S4 or (MF 140) to read transcripts of what was said about the bill on the floor of the House and Senate. For some years you may need to convert a calendar day to a legislative day by consulting the conversion table in the back of the appropriate index volume.

Study Committee actions

Following introduction, a bill is referred to an appropriate committee, which recommends in the Journals whether or not the bill should be enacted. These reports are usually brief, but some contain useful information. Use the "Record of Bills" index in the last volume of the House and Senate Journals for the appropriate General Assembly date, and look under columns labeled "Report of Committee" and "Other Proceedings."

Conference Committee Reports (included with "Other Proceedings") explain differences between the House and Senate on specific language of a bill and attempt to reach a compromise. These reports may contain explanations of such differences and the reasoning behind the compromise language; however, many bills become laws without having gone through conference committee.

Since the mid-1970's House committee meetings have been recorded on audiotapes. Individual tapes may be ordered from the House Transcribing Clerk for $5 (217-782-8100). Include bill number and/or Public Act number and your address; the tape and the invoice will be mailed to you.

Other sources

The Illinois Issues Roster of State Government Officials (REF.JK5730.I46) and the State of Illinois Telephone Directory (REF.JK5730.I44A) provide addresses and phone numbers for Illinois legislators, who may have retained valuable files describing passage of a bill. For ease of access the Illinois General Assembly Web site may be preferable.

Someone else may already have researched the bill in question. Law review articles can be found in the Lexis-Nexis database, available electronically from The Cullom-Davis Library homepage.

Also look for law review citations in the annotated version of Illinois Compiled Statutes REF.KFI1229.I44.

Illinois House

  • Illinois. General Assembly. House of Representatives. Bills Introduced in the House of the Illinois General Assembly. MFICHE. 136
  • Illinois. General Assembly. House of Representatives. Debates. MFICHE. 137
  • Illinois. General Assembly. House of Representatives. Enrolled And Engrossed House Bills. MFICHE. 277
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Final Legislative Synopsis And Digest Of The General Assembly, State Of Illinois. MFICHE. 286
  • Illinois. General Assembly. House of Representatives. Index to Debates. MFICHE. 137 INDEX
  • Illinois. General Assembly. House of Representatives. Index To The Transcripts Of The House Debates Of The General Assembly. REF. KFI1210 .H5
  • Illinois. General Assembly. House of Representatives. Journal. J87 .I3C
  • Illinois. General Assembly. House of Representatives. Journal of the House of Representatives. MFICHE. 138
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Legislative Synopsis And Digest General Assembly, State Of Illinois. ILL. 328.2 L (IL Govt Publications- 2nd Floor)
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Master Transcript Index. MFICHE. 289

Illinois Senate

  • Illinois. General Assembly. Senate. Bills introduced in the Senate of the Illinois General Assembly. MFICHE. 139
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Senate. Debates. MFICHE. 140
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Senate. Enrolled and engrossed Senate bills. MFICHE. 276
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Final legislative synopsis and digest of the General Assembly, State of Illinois. MFICHE. 286
  • Index to the transcripts of the Senate debates of the General Assembly, State of Illinois. REF. KFI1210 .S4
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Senate. Journal of the Senate. REF. J87 .I3B
  • Journal of the Senate. Index. MFICHE. 142 INDEX
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Senate. Journal of the Senate. MFICHE. 142
  • Illinois. General Assembly. Legislative synopsis and digest General Assembly, State of Illinois. ILL. 328.2 L (IL Govt Publications- 2nd Floor)
  • Illinois. Reports made to the General Assembly of the State of Illinois. MFICHE. 278
  • Illinois. Reports made to the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Illinois. MFICHE. 278

Denise Johnson
Reference/Government Documents Librarian

Library 109
(309) 677-2840
johnson@fsmail.bradley.edu