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Illinois & Chicago Legislative History

Introduction to Illinois Legislative History Research

Compiling a legislative history for an Illinois law can be a frustrating experience due to the lack of published hearings, reports, and other documents. The primary sources for determining legislative intent in Illinois are the House and Senate debates. Publication of the debates, however, did not begin until 1971, when the new Illinois Constitution required that the floor debates of each chamber be transcribed.

The tab "Bills & Floor Debates" includes information on each step in compiling an Illinois legislative history. For a a more detailed guide, consult Chapter 2 of the Illinois Legal Research Guide (D'Angelo Law, Reference, XXKFI1275.W42 2006). Another helpful resource is the Legislative Reference Bureau's research guide. The Illinois General Assembly website also includes a helpful diagram of the Illinois legislative process.

The PowerPoint presentation below goes through these steps using an example from the Illinois Compiled Statutes.

Illinois Legislative History Resources

The primary resources for Illinois legislative research are:

  • Illinois General Assembly website - includes legislative information (bills and resolutions, public acts, journals, transcripts and summary reports) for the current General Assembly and for prior General Assemblies back to 1971. The electronic content varies; the earlier the General Assembly, the less information that is available in a usable format. When a previous General Assembly is selected, a menu showing the content available for that particular year is displayed.
  • Westlaw - includes legislative information (bills and resolutions, journals, transcripts, and summary reports) back to 1999 and public acts back to 1988.

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