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Statutory Law

Illinois General Assembly

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Laws of Illinois - IL General Assembly



The process for bills in Illinois follows the same conventions described in the federal section above.  The only significant variation in the Illinois legislative process is that a bill must have three readings in each chamber before a vote is held on a bill.  Bill text and status are on Lexis Advance and Westlaw Edge.  The Illinois General Assembly website ( contains links to the most current Bill status and text at In addition, the legislature provides links to many full text Bill archives and their status from many previous General Assemblies at (a link to "previous general assemblies" is close to bottom of first column at the IL General Assembly's site

Bill tracking in paper is through a publication called the Legislative Synopsis and Digest.  Several volumes appear through the course of a general assembly.  Replacement volumes periodically update them until a final set of books is issued for a year.  The volumes are organized by chamber and bill number, and include a chronology of activity under each bill if one exists.  The paper copies found in most libraries extend well earlier than the online version at the legislature’s web site.  For those interested, there is an interesting guide prepared by the Illinois Legislative Reference Bureau ( on drafting legislation, complete with explanations of terminology used in identifying documents in various stages of the legislative process.  The guide is on the web at .

Public Acts ( - note a link to "Search Previous General Assemblies" is available here as well.)

Once a bill has been passed and signed by the governor, it is given a numerical designation similar to the federal system.  P.A. 91-1019 is the 1019th act passed by the 91st general assembly.  These are compiled in volumes called Laws of Illinois, which are the session laws of Illinois.  These volumes only contain acts as signed into law with little analytical material.  The text of public acts for the last several general assemblies is also on the legislature’s web site.

The Codes of Illinois

The statutes for the state of Illinois appear in a compilation known as Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) .  Acts are organized into chapters that are organized around a general subject.  Each chapter is divided into acts, and each act is divided into sections.  735 ILCS 5/3 is a citation to the 3rd section of the 5th act in chapter 735. 

The chapter and numbering system is significantly different from the prior statutory compilation, Illinois Revised Statutes (Ill. Rev. Stat.).  There are extensive amounts of references in cases and other material to the Illinois Revised Statute citations.  There are table volumes in all current code compilations that cross-reference between old and new citations.  The current code is on the legislature’s web site.

State Bar Association Edition

The closest there is to an official code is the State Bar Association Edition of ILCS.  Published in 7 volumes, it contains the text of the statutes, source act and amendment history, and notes where appropriate.  One volume acts as an index and popular name table.  There are no annotations or other editorial enhancements.  The set is published by West rather than under the authority of the State of Illinois.  It appears in a recompiled and updated form every two years, with a paper one-volume supplement in the intervening year.  There are no annotations or other editorial enhancements to aid a researcher in this version of the ILCS.

Smith-Hurd Illinois Annotated Statutes (West - also known as West Publishing is owned by Thomson Reuters) 

West publishes this set.  Smith-Hurd is a reference to historical sets that West Group acquired years ago and continues the current product under these names.  The numbering system for ILCS is in the public domain.  Hence, this publication, as well as the Lexis version described below, uses the same common numbering system.  The set is updated by annual pocket part and regular pamphlets.

The editorial enhancements include historical notes, reference to law review articles, annotations, relevant key numbers, and references to other Thompson/West publications.

Illinois Compiled Statutes (Lexis- owned by RELX Group formerly known as Reed Elsevier  )

The only comparable difference between the features is that the Lexis Publishing editorial staff prepares the analytical notes cross-referencing to other Lexis materials.  Lexis does not provide West key number referencing.

Other Materials

Advanced Legislative Service (ALS) Pamphlets

Throughout the course of a general assembly, Both West and Lexis will publish pamphlets that contain the latest public acts.  These supplement the pocket part to the current text of the law.  These pamphlets indicate a cut off date so as to give the researcher an indication whether the law needs to be updated further.

Illinois House and Senate Journals

These are two publications (available at that track the activity of the two chambers of the general assembly.  The activity is noted in abstract form on a calendar basis.  There are no verbatim reports of activity in these publications.

Transcripts of the Debates of the House and Senate

Historically, these appeared only on microform, and only since 1971.  There are transcripts on the legislature’s web site for previous general assemblies.  The default access point is by legislative day.  Limited keyword search is available.

Legislative History Guide - for Illinois

A Guide on How to Do an Illinois Legislative History is located at: - 

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