Bills to Watch

Need a refresher on the legislative process in Illinois? Keep reading.

ILLINOIS LEGISLATIVE PROCESS 101

The Illinois Senate and House of Representatives usually convene in the state’s capital, Springfield, during two periods each year.

The first is known as “regular session” and takes place from January through May. Generally, bills considered during regular session need only a simple majority vote to pass. That means it takes 30 votes in the state Senate and 60 votes in the state House for a bill to pass. Most legislators try to get their bills passed during this time.

The second or “veto” session” happens for two weeks in October and November. The first order of business during this time is often bills which the Governor vetoed over the summer. However, the House and Senate can, and often do, take up new items.

It is harder to pass a bill with immediate effect during veto session because it requires a super-majority vote to pass in each chamber; that is, 36 votes in the Senate and 71 votes in the House.

Bills can originate in either chamber (Senate or House). If a state senator files a bill in the State Senate and it passes, it goes to the House. If a state representative files a bill in the House and it passes, it then goes to the Senate. Along the way, a bill is considered by a committee of the chamber which will also invite expert witnesses to hearings and review relevant research. When it comes to Education matters, the key committees are the Senate Education Committee and the House Elementary & Secondary Education Committees.

Once a bill passes both chambers, it goes to the Governor. The Governor then has four options:

  • sign the bill into law;
  • do nothing, in which case the bill automatically becomes a law after a certain period;
  • reject the bill entirely (this is a “veto”); or
  • issue an “amendatory veto” to suggest a small change to the bill.

If the Governor vetoes a bill or does an amendatory veto, legislators can reconsider the bill during veto session.

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More details on how a bill becomes a law in Illinois.

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