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Illinois Legislative History Research: Using the ILGA Website

Content

The content available at the ILGA website for previous General Assemblies varies. For earlier General Assemblies, especially prior to the 90th G.A. (1997-8), less information is available in electronic format. When a previous G.A. is selected, a menu will be presented showing the content available for that particular G.A. Types of content available include:

a)    Legislation—Bill Status and Full Text options
b)    Votes (Senate)/Roll Calls (House)
c)    Public Acts
d)    Members
e)    Committees
f)    Journals by legislative day and calendar date
g)    Transcripts—Floor debate transcripts by legislative day and calendar date (transcripts from older General Assemblies are scanned images)
h)    Summary Reports—various reports on the selected GA (older versions are scanned images)

Previous General Assemblies

As mentioned earlier, transcription of the debates began with the 77th General Assembly (1971-2) pursuant to the 1970 Illinois Constitution. All House and Senate debates from current and previous G.A.s going back to the 77th G.A. have now been made accessible via the ILGA website. Thus, you will probably never need to use the fiche or CD ROM versions to read the debates.

However, as of the date of this Guide, many other materials like Public Acts, bills and Journals are not available at the ILGA website prior to the 90th (1997-8) G.A. so you may still need to use those materials in print or fiche.

Also, the transcripts of the debates at the ILGA website are organized by date. While it is possible to search all of the debates for an entire G.A. using the website’s search engine, some researchers prefer to focus on particular dates i.e. the dates of the second and third bill readings, as those are the dates on which any relevant debate about the bill are most likely to have taken place. These reading dates are displayed as part of the bill status chart shown below.

Bill Status Chart

To retrieve the bill status chart for your bill, take the following steps:


1.    If you are working with P.A. 93-544, for example, click on “Previous General Assembly” under Additional Resources at the ILGA home page. Select 93rd General Assembly from the drop down menu and click on “Go!”. Then go to Public Acts under the Legislation & Laws link and click on “listing”. Find your P.A. number to pull up the text of the Public Act including the bill number, SB1872.


2.    Go back to the 93rd G.A. home page, Legislation & Laws, click on “listing” and look for your Senate Bill number. When you click on your bill number, you may see a synopsis of the bill with links to “full text” and “bill status” or you may immediately see a bill status chart like the one above.

 

3.   Unfortunately, bill status charts are not available for earlier Assemblies prior to the 93rd G.A. If you are researching a bill from an earlier G.A., look for the link to the "Master Index", which appears on the Search screen for House and Senate transcripts. This Index contains the dates of the readings mentioned below. If the Index lists legislative days rather than dates, you may need to use the Legislative Day to Date Conversion table at the end of the Index in order to retrieve the dates mentioned below.    

 

4.    Make a note of the second and third readings or dates of any other important bill action. Then go back to the home page of the particular G.A. (i.e. 93rd ), select transcripts for House or Senate and click on listing. Using the pull down menu, you can then select transcripts for the dates you have noted.

 

5.    Search the transcripts using the Windows find command “Ctrl + F” in order to find references to a particular bill in the text of the House and Senate debates. Using the bill number itself (i.e. 1872) is often an adequate search term.

 

6.   If no bill status chart is available for your bill at the ILGA website, look for the Master Index link mentioned above (#3) or check the Legislative Synopsis and Digest for your General Assembly. As a last resort, we still have the Indexes to the Transcripts of the House or Senate Debates in print opposite the microforms reader/printer on the 6th floor.