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Tracing Legislation in Illinois: A Guide to Selected Sources

Current Legislation and Information

See the Illinois General Assembly web page for the following information for the current General Assembly:

Legislation & Laws
  • Bills & Resolutions (searchable by bill number or key word)
    • Bill summary with link to full text

    • Sponsors' names and contact information

    • Dates of actions

    • Record of votes

  • Public Acts (full text, searchable by public act number or key word)
  • Illinois Compiled Statutes
  • Illinois Constitution

Senate & House

  • Members
  • Schedules of meetings/hearings
  • Committees
  • Journals of the Senate & House
  • Transcripts of debates
  • Rules

Reports & Inquiry

  • Legislative Reports
  • My Legislation

Additional Resources

  • Links to legislative support services including:
    • Legislative Reference Bureau
      • "Researching Legislative History"
      • "Guide to Drafting Legislative Documents"
    • Legislative Research Unit
      • First Reading - a legislative newsletter
      • County Data Book
      • "How a Bill Becomes Law"
  • Legislator lookup
  • Capital complex telephone numbers

Current information about proposed legislation is sometimes posted on state agency home pages. For links to state agency home pages, see

Legislative History and Intent

The House and Senate debates are considered the primary source for determining legislative intent in Illinois. However, publication of the debates did not begin until 1971. The Illinois General Assembly web site provides legislative information online (including transcripts of the debates) beginning with the 77th General Assembly (1971-72). Lovejoy Library also maintains print and/or microfiche for the following publications for the dates indicated:

Legislative Synopsis and Digest - current issues, Call # J 87.I3 (Stx)

  • Arranged by bill or resolution number

  • Gives actions on and status of pending legislation, amendments, committee and floor actions

  • Includes subject and sponsor indexes at the back of each volume

  • Published weekly when Legislature is in session

Final Legislative Synopsis and Digest - 1921- . Call # J 87.I3 (Stx)

  • Provides legislative history for each bill introduced in that session

  • Useful for finding bill number

  • Published annually after the session ends; includes subject and sponsor index

House Debates - 1971-1998, 77th-90th General Assemblies (microfiche)
Senate Debates - 1971-1998, 77th-90th General Assemblies (microfiche)

  • Text of floor debates of legislation in the House and the Senate

  • Considered primary source for determining legislative intent in Illinois after 1971

  • Not published for General Assemblies prior to 1971

  • Available online via the Illinois General Assembly web page

  • Print indexes for the microfiche are available in the Microforms Dept.
    Call # J 87.I3F Index and J 87.I3 Index

House Journal - 1836-1999 call # J 87.I3C (Stx); 1978-1994 (microfiche)
Senate Journal - 1834-1999 call # J 87.I3B (Stx); 1978-1994 (microfiche)

  • Record each step necessary to final passage of a bill

  • Record each bill as it is introduced, all amendments, resolutions, committee

  • Report messages from the Governor and other House and vote on passage

  • Provide conversion tables showing public act numbers of bills passed

  • Prepared after each legislative day

House Bills - 1979-1994 (microfiche)
Senate Bills - 1979-1994 (microfiche)

  • Text of House & Senate bills

Laws and Codes

West's Illinois Legislative Service - 1984 - . Call number KFI 1230.S42 (Stx)

  • One of the first published sources for newly enacted legislation
  • Gives text of bills passed with deletions & additions to original bill indicated
  • Arranged by public act number; includes subject index

Laws, Statutes, etc. Public Acts - 1979-1994 (microfiche)

  • Provides text, name of chief sponsor, and bill number for public act

  • Arranged by public act number

Laws of the State of Illinois ("Session Laws") 1934-1999 Call # KFI 1225.I45 (Stx)

  • Lists bill number, public act number, actions on, & effective date of enacted bills

  • Gives text of public acts, resolutions, executive orders, and proclamations

  • Includes subject index; published annually

Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) . Online

  • Codifies legislation adopted by the General Assembly

  • Includes subject index; published biennially

  • Formerly Illinois Revised Statutes

Illinois Administrative Code . Online

  • Administrative rules and regulations

Illinois Register . Online 2002 - current year

  • Source for official public notice of rule-making activity by the state agencies

  • Provides text of proposed rules, adopted rules and emergency rules

  • Published weekly to update the Illinois Administrative Code

  • Also available in print for current year, call # KFI 12351977.A22 and on microfiche for 1977-1999


Almanac of Illinois Politics - 1990 - . Print: Ref JK 5731.A45; older in Stx

  • House and Senate member information and votes on key issues

  • Campaign expenditures & historical election data

  • Committee membership

  • Demographic data by district

Illinois Blue Book - Print: Ref JK 5730.A25; older in stx and microfiche

  • Information about state government offices and agencies

  • Biographies of state officials

  • Illinois history

  • Text of state & federal constitutions

Illinois Handbook of Government - Online. Current Print: Ref JK 5736.A472

  • Formerly Handbook of Illinois Government, 1907-1994; Print: Stx JK 5736.A47

  • Published in alternate years to update the Illinois Blue Book


Illinois Issues - 1976- . Online from publisher. Print: SIUE Journal Collection.
Indexed in PAIS International.

State Journal-Register - Current two weeks at Circulation Desk; older kept in SIUE Journal Collection (2nd floor) until microfilm received.

Chicago Tribune - Current two weeks at Circulation Desk; older kept in SIUE Journal Collection until microfilm received; microfilm: 1969- .

First Reading - Legislative Research Unit. Online via General Assembly home page.
Print: current five years in SIUE Journal Collection.

Background Reading

Preface to Lawmaking 2006 (21st Annual New Members Conference, Springfield, IL, Illinois Legislative Research Unit, 2006.
Basic information about the legislative process.

Researching Legislative History by Richard C. Edwards, Illinois Legislative Reference Bureau, 1996.

Wendt, Laurel A. "Researching Illinois Legislative Histories: A Practical Guide," Southern Illinois University Law Journal, vol. 4, 1982, pp. 601-623.
SIUE Journal Collection, 2nd floor

Please direct questions or comments about this guide to Linda Carlisle, Social Sciences Librarian,
Library & Information Services, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville at

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