The Legislative Reference Bureau was created in 1913, the first of the modern legislative service agencies in Illinois. The Bureau carries out a wide range of functions relating to the legal and technical operation of the General Assembly. The primary task of the Bureau is the drafting and preparation of legislation, including bills, amendments, resolutions, and conference committee reports. The vast majority of all legislation considered by the General Assembly is drafted by the Bureau's staff, which in a typical biennium produces more than 27,000 documents. Attorneys employed by the Bureau provide legal advice and drafting services to legislators of both parties and both houses, working on a nonpartisan basis in a confidential lawyer-client relationship. The Bureau's drafting staff also includes paralegal professionals who draft resolutions and provide other drafting assistance.
For use in the drafting process, the Bureau maintains a computer database of the current Illinois statutes, which it continually updates and edits as new laws are passed. While the statute database is primarily designed for internal use, it also is available in electronic form on the General Assembly Web site.
The Bureau is responsible for recommending and preparing technical changes in the law. It prepares revisory bills that combine multiple enactments, correct technical errors, and revise, renumber, and rearrange the law. The Bureau also prepares bills to codify selected portions of the law and to implement executive branch reorganizations ordered by the Governor.
In 1989, the Bureau began working on a plan for the reorganization of the Illinois statutes, and on January 1, 1993, the new Illinois Compiled Statutes became effective. The Bureau has a continuing duty to maintain the organization of the Illinois Compiled Statutes through periodic filings with the Secretary of State.
As an aid in tracking legislation, the Bureau prepares and publishes the Legislative Synopsis and Digest. The Digest contains a summary of legislative documents considered by the General Assembly, a record of all legislative actions on the documents, and several indexes. The Digest is published in book form during most weeks that the General Assembly is in session and is available to the public by subscription. Digest summaries and actions are available by choosing "Bill Status" after selecting a bill or resolution at the General Assembly Web site.
After the end of each spring legislative session, the Bureau's legal staff reviews all reported decisions of the federal courts, the Illinois Supreme Court, and the Illinois Appellate Court from the previous year. Cases that affect the interpretation of the Illinois constitution or statutes and cases that indicate a possible need for legislative action are identified and summarized in an annual case report, which is published by the Bureau.
In addition, the Bureau maintains a law library, which includes the current statutes of all 50 states, federal statutes and regulations, Illinois and federal case reports, an extensive collection of historical materials relating to Illinois statutes and legislative documents, and other materials relating to the development and interpretation of Illinois law. The Bureau also coordinates the activities of the Illinois delegation to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
Subject to oversight by the Joint Committee on Legislative Support Services, the Bureau has a 12-member board composed of three legislators appointed by each member of the Joint Committee.
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