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Legal Research FAQs: Illinois Legislative History

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When the language of a statute is unclear or ambiguous, attorneys will sometimes look to its legislative history to try to determine the intent or purpose of the legislature in enacting the statute.  "Legislative History" can refer both to the legislative process (the steps a bill takes on its way to becoming a law) as well as the documents generated during that process.

llinois Legislative History

Print Resources

Find the calendar year of passage and the Public Act number by checking the codified statutes in West's Smith-Hurd Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated. The Smith-Hurd set is located on the Law Library's third floor at Call No. KFI 1230 1993 .A4

With the Public Act number, and the year of passage, check the Laws of Illinois for the bill number and the exact date of passage. The Laws of Illinois volumes may be found on the Library's third floor at Call No. KFI 1225.  

Illinois Senate committee hearings and reports are not available. Hearings of the House committees, however, are available on audio tapes directly from the Clerk of the House of Representatives by calling 217.782.8100. 

Transcribed debates from the floors of the House and Senate are available in microfiche format. Check the indices to the fiche arranged by year and bill number.  The indices are located at Call Nos. KFI 1212.H6 17 (House) and KFI 1212 .S4 17 (Senate) on the Library's third floor, while the microfiche is filed in the fourth floor Microform Room. 

Check the Illinois Legislative Synopsis and Digest, which arranged by year and bill number, for quick summaries of all the legislative activity regarding any particular bill. These volumes are located at Call No. KFI 1207 .I4 on the Library's third floor. 

Additionally, check the Journals for the Illinois House and Senate. The Journals contain charts at the end of each session, arranged by bill number, which refer to relevant pages within the Journals. The Journals are shelved on the Library's third floor at Call Nos. KFI 1218.H (House) and KFI 1218.S (Senate). The Journals may contain texts of the floor amendments to bills, as well as the Governor?s signing or veto message.

Online Resources

For legislative histories of more recent Illinois legislation, see the Illinois General Assembly's web site at  www.ilga.gov.  House  proceedings are also now available in DVD format from the Clerk of the House.