Civics Refresher

Civics Refresher

Every idea aspiring to become a law in Illinois has to go through at least SIX and sometimes SEVEN hurdles:

  1. A legislator has to agree to sponsor the bill AND has to ensure all deadlines are met, and that the bill does not get “lost in the pile.”
  2. The bill has to pass a substantive committee in the House (sponsor may amend it to get enough support to get out of committee).
  3. It has to pass a substantive committee in the Senate (sponsor may amend, or change, the bill to get enough support to get out of committee).
  4. It has to get 60 or more of 118 votes in the House (sponsor may amend it to get to 60 votes).
  5. It has to get 30 or more of 59 votes in the Senate (sponsor may amend it to get to 30 votes).
  6. (It may have to have a “concurrence” vote if any amendments were made after a vote in another chamber.)
  7. It has to be signed by the Governor.

It is extremely rare for a bill that has opposition to pass without amendments. A good sponsor will work with opponents, supporters, and stakeholders to make smart amendments that strike the best middle ground.

A bill that does not get through these 6 – 7 steps over the course of a session (from January through May each year) is considered “dead” for the year and will have to begin again. Once a bill has failed to get out of committee, it is “dead” for the year.

A bill is just an idea! If it starts with “HB” or “SB” (or “HR” or “SR”) it is NOT YET A LAW. Laws begin with “PA.”


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