Illinois Legislative Glossary
30-character abbreviated synopsis of a bill.
An enforceable law of the State. A bill that has passed both
houses of the General Assembly becomes an Act through the Governor's approval,
inaction, or a veto procedure.
Termination of a legislative day upon the completion
of business, with the hour and day of the next meeting being set prior to
Adjournment Sine Die
The final adjournment of a legislative
session. The Latin translation is "without a day; an indefinite period".
Approval or acceptance; usually applied to amendments,
resolutions, and motions.
Formal proposal to change the language of a bill or
resolution after it has been introduced.
An amendment adopted by a committee when a
bill is before that committee.
An amendment adopted by the full house when the
bill is on the order of second reading.
Approval by the Governor
Signature of the Governor on a bill passed
by the General Assembly, whereupon the bill becomes an Act.
consisting of 2 houses. In Illinois, the State legislature, known as the General
Assembly, consists of a 59-member Senate and a 118-member House of
A 2-year term of legislative activity by the General
Assembly. Each 2-year term of the General Assembly is numbered. For example, the
General Assembly elected in November 2000 for the term 2001-2002 is the 92nd
General Assembly. The General Assembly elected in November 2002 for the term
2003-2004 is the 93rd General Assembly.
Legislation drafted in the form of an Act for introduction
into the Senate or the House of Representatives and identified with a bill
number. If the bill is passed by both houses and signed by the Governor or
otherwise becomes law, it becomes an Act.
A bill that proposes changes to existing
statutory law. The law to be changed by a bill is referred to in a Section's
A bill that authorizes a named governmental
entity to expend a certain amount of money from a specific source, such as the
General Revenue Fund, for a specific purpose.
A bill consisting of recommended appropriations of
State funds presented by the Governor to the General Assembly for its
A bill that proposes to create an entirely new
A bill that combines multiple enactments, corrects
technical errors, and revises, renumbers, and rearranges the law.
A bill that makes no substantive change in the
A document prepared by partisan staff of a house of
the General Assembly that explains how a bill would change existing law and
sometimes mentions support and opposition from major interest groups.
The action of the Governor
when he or she assures that the General Assembly's acceptance of the Governor's
amendatory veto of a bill conforms to the Governor's specific recommendations
for change. The bill becomes law if the Governor certifies the bill. The bill is
returned to the General Assembly as a vetoed bill if the Governor does not
certify the bill.
The daily printed agenda of business for each house of
the General Assembly. The calendar also contains scheduled committee
An informal meeting of a group of legislators, most often
called on the basis of party affiliation or regional representation.
A designation of the presiding officer.
Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability
legislative support agency that provides the General Assembly with research and
information regarding the State and national economies and revenues and
operations of State government; also monitors the long-term debt position of the
State and is the successor to the Pension Laws Commission.
A group of legislators from the same house of
the General Assembly organized for the purpose of performing certain legislative
functions and to consider and decide on the disposition of legislation in a
certain area of the law. Committees are the public forums of legislation.
Agreement by one house of the General Assembly to an
amendment added by the other house. Also, adoption of a joint resolution
originating in the other house.
An even number of legislators, 5 from the
Senate and 5 from the House of Representatives, who attempt to resolve
differences between versions of a specific bill or joint resolution passed by
their respective bodies. The conference committee reports recommendations back
to the General Assembly for further action.
A listing of non-controversial bills and
resolutions. No debate is in order for any item on the consent calendar.
A citizen residing within the district of a
A written instrument embodying the fundamental
principles of the State that guarantees powers and duties of the government and
certain rights to the people.
Constitutional Amendment Joint Resolution
A joint resolution that
proposes to amend the Illinois Constitution. After adoption of the resolution by
both houses of the General Assembly, a proposition to amend the Illinois
Constitution is submitted to the electors of the State for adoption or rejection
at the next general election.
To meet in formal legislative session.
To argue the merits of a legislative
measure, pro and con.
Died in Committee
The defeat of a bill by the decision of a
committee not to return the bill to the full house.
That division of the State represented by a legislator,
determined on the basis of population. Senators are elected from legislative
districts; Representatives are elected from representative districts.
An official elected by the House of Representatives
whose duties include controlling access to the floor of the chamber.
The affirmative recommendation made by a committee in
sending a bill to the full house for final vote.
Do Pass as Amended
Passage recommended providing certain changes
Date on which a Public Act takes effect. The
effective date of a law is the date it becomes generally enforceable.
The phrase in a bill that formally expresses the
legislative sanction of the General Assembly. The enacting clause follows the
title and is a necessary part of every bill. The phrase is "Be it enacted by the
People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly".
The incorporation of amendments into a bill (or joint
resolution) when a bill passes the house of origin and is sent to the second
house. If not amended, the introduced version of the bill becomes the engrossed
The processing of a bill (or joint resolution),
incorporating all amendments, if any, when a bill passes both houses of the
General Assembly. The enrolled bill is the document that is signed by both
presiding officers and is then sent to the Governor.
Action by the Governor in implementing his or her
authority under the law.
The holding of an office or the assumption of a duty by
reason of holding another office.
A statement attached to a bill
giving the estimated amount of increase or decrease in revenue or expenditures
and the present and future fiscal implications of a bill.
A 12-month accounting period. For the State of
Illinois, the fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30 of the following
That portion of a legislative chamber reserved for
legislators, staff, and other persons granted access during Session.
The balcony of a legislative chamber from
which visitors may view proceedings.
The branch of State government responsible for enacting
laws. In Illinois, legislative power is vested in the General Assembly. The
General Assembly is a continuous body during the term for which members of the
House of Representatives are elected (2 years).
Relevant or appropriate. An amendment must be germane to
the bill that it amends.
Governor's Office of Management and Budget
An agency created in the
executive office of the Governor to assist the Governor in submitting a
recommended budget, including estimated receipts and revenue, to the General
A committee meeting
convened for the purpose of gathering information on a specific subject or
considering specific legislative measures.
Home Rule Unit
A county that has a chief executive officer elected
by the electors of the county, a municipality that has a population of more than
25,000, and any other municipality that elects by referendum to become a home
rule unit. A home rule unit may elect by referendum not to be a home rule unit.
A home rule unit has broad authority to exercise certain powers and perform
certain functions pertaining to its government and affairs. The General
Assembly, however, may deny or limit certain powers and functions of home rule
Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS)
official compilation of the laws of the State organized by chapter, which is a
subject matter grouping, and section numbers.
Joint Committee on Administrative Rules
The legislative support agency that ensures that the General
Assembly is adequately informed on how laws are implemented through agency
rulemaking and that facilitates public understanding of agency rules.
An official record of each house of the General Assembly
reflecting all actions taken on the floor each legislative day.
A document that proposes to
create or change law.
Legislative Audit Commission
The legislative support agency that
oversees the State audit program, reviews the stewardship of public funds, and
monitors actions to correct weaknesses disclosed by audits of State
A day in which a house of the General Assembly is
Legislative Ethics Commission
A commission that conducts hearings
and rules on matters brought before it upon receipt of pleadings filed by the
Legislative Inspector General; also appoints Special Legislative Inspectors General.
Legislative Information System
The legislative support agency that
provides the computer services and technical guidance required by the General
Assembly and its committees, commissions, and agencies.
Legislative Inspector General
The office that investigates
allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, misconduct, nonfeasance,
misfeasance, malfeasance, and violations of the State Officials and Employees
Ethics Act and other related laws and rules by members of the General Assembly
and legislative employees.
The purpose for which a bill is introduced or
Any matter brought before a house of the
General Assembly for consideration, such as a bill, resolution, amendment,
conference committee report, motion, or message.
Legislative Printing Unit
The legislative support agency that
provides printing services to members of the General Assembly, legislative
committees and commissions, and other legislative agencies.
A redrawing of legislative and
representative district boundaries to provide equality of representation
according to population; done in the year following each federal decennial
Legislative Reference Bureau
The legislative support agency that
drafts and prepares such legislative measures as bills, amendments, resolutions,
and conference committee reports at the request of legislators.
Legislative Research Unit
The legislative support agency that
answers legislators' questions on legal, scientific, economic, historical, and
other subjects relating to pending or contemplated legislative actions; also is
the successor to the Illinois Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation.
Legislative Synopsis and Digest
A publication prepared by
the Legislative Reference Bureau that includes a summary of legislative
documents considered by the General Assembly, a record of all legislative action
on the documents, and several indexes; also available electronically through the
Illinois General Assembly's website.
A member of the General Assembly. A legislator is a
Senator if he or she is a member of the Senate or a Representative if he or she
is a member of the House of Representatives.
See General Assembly
A person who represents a particular interest or group of
interests before the General Assembly.
In both the House of
Representatives and the Senate, the member who is the second-ranking official.
The Majority Leader is appointed by the Speaker or the President and is the key
advisor to the Speaker or the President and the majority Caucus.
The political party having the greater number of
members in a house of the General Assembly.
An official communication from one house of the General
Assembly to the other or from the Governor to the General Assembly.
In both the House of Representatives and the
Senate, the Minority Leader is selected by the minority party and is formally
elected by all members. The Minority Leader's responsibilities include
appointing members to serve on committees, selecting assistant leaders and
staff, and serving as spokesperson for the minority party.
The political party having the fewer number of
members in a house of the General Assembly.
A formal suggestion, usually oral, made by a legislator to a
presiding officer calling for specific action by a house of the General
Assembly, such as a motion to adopt an amendment or a motion to adjourn. After a
motion is officially received by the presiding officer, it is acted upon by a
vote of the house.
A city, village, or incorporated town.
Office of the Architect of the Capitol
support agency that provides facilities and space allocations for the
General Assembly and its related agencies, approves contracts and change orders
for all construction within the Capitol complex, and acquires land for the development
of the Capitol complex and its related facilities.
The day fixed by the Illinois
Constitution for the convening of a Regular Session of the General Assembly,
which is the second Wednesday in January.
Order of Business
The defined routine of procedure in a house of
the General Assembly each day; may be changed by the presiding officer (or in
the House of Representatives, upon motion of a member).
Out of Order
A ruling that a motion, an amendment, or a question is
improper under the rules of the house.
A question posed to
the presiding officer for clarification of a point in the proceedings.
Approval of a bill by the vote of the full house.
Literally, per day; daily expense money paid to
Point of Order
A statement by a legislator calling attention to an
alleged breach of order or parliamentary procedure, upon which the presiding
officer must rule.
Point of Personal Privilege
A statement by a legislator that is not
relevant to pending business, such as a request to be recorded as voting "aye"
or "nay" on a previous roll call or a request to recognize visitors in the
To delay consideration of a bill or resolution until a
specific legislative day or hour of the same day.
In a bill, a statement of purpose or explanation that is
inserted between the title and the enacting clause. A preamble in a bill does
not become part of an Act, but a court may use it as a tool of statutory
construction in ascertaining legislative intent. In a resolution, one or more
explanatory clauses beginning with "whereas".
To file a bill with a house of the General Assembly during
a specified period of time before the opening day of a Regular Session. The bill
is deemed automatically introduced on the opening day.
The member of the Senate or the House of
Representatives whose responsibilities include administering the business of the
house, controlling the order of business, referring bills, interpreting rules,
and recognizing legislators to speak.
Previous Question (Motion for):
Action to prevent additional debate
on or amendment of a question and to cause an immediate vote on the matter at
A bill that has been passed by the General Assembly and
signed by the Governor (or otherwise has become law). After a bill has been
signed by the Governor or otherwise becomes law, the Secretary of State assigns
the bill a Public Act number, which is subsequently used to refer to the measure
rather than the bill number. The Public Act number consists of the number of the
General Assembly followed by a dash and then a number showing the order in which
the law was filed with the Secretary of State. Public Acts for a particular year
are bound into volumes referred to as the Session Laws of Illinois.
The required number of legislators
present to transact business. In the General Assembly, a majority of the members
elected to a house constitutes a quorum.
Presentation of a bill before
either house of the General Assembly by reading its title; a stage in the
enactment of a law. Each bill introduced must be read by title on 3 different
days in each house before it is passed. The first reading introduces the bill.
The second reading allows for floor amendments. A bill is voted on when called
for third reading.
To undo action previously taken.
Intermission during a daily Session, usually for caucus or
Reconsider (Motion to)
Action to retake a vote. The motion may be
offered only by a legislator having voted previously on the prevailing side.
The final processing of a bill when the Governor has
amendatorily vetoed the bill and the General Assembly accepts the Governor's
proposed changes. Re-enrollment incorporates the Governor's proposed changes.
The re-enrolled bill is presented to the Governor for certification.
The assignment of a legislative measure to a
To delete and make of no effect.
To communicate opinion or recommendations.
Action, in the form of a formal legislative document,
taken by the Senate alone, the House of Representatives alone, or both the
Senate and House acting jointly. A resolution does not change statutory or
constitutional law and is not approved or otherwise acted upon by the Governor
(and thus is not a law). The effect of a typical resolution is merely to express
the opinion of one or both houses or to take some action short of enacting a law
that is within the province of one or both houses. Also, a resolution is
typically temporary in character. Some resolutions do have legal effect, such as
those relating to recommendations of the Compensation Review Board, school
mandate waivers, and the authorization of toll highways.
Language in a resolution defining the action
To determine a vote on a question by the taking of names
of those in favor and those opposed.
A code of procedure adopted by each house of the General
Assembly to govern its operations.
Ruling of the Chair
A decision by a presiding officer concerning a
question of order or procedure.
The basic segment of a bill, with
each Section being assigned a sequential number. Existing statutory law is also
referred to by Section number.
The presiding officer of the Senate, elected by
the Senate from its membership.
An official elected by the Senate whose duties
include controlling access to the floor of the chamber.
The period of time during which the General Assembly
Each day's meeting.
A meeting of the two houses of the General Assembly
Session in which the Secretary of the Senate
or the Clerk of the House may read into the record any legislative measure,
committees may meet and may consider and act upon legislative measures, and the
Secretary or Clerk may receive and read committee reports into the record. No
further action may be taken with respect to a legislative measure during a
Perfunctory Session, and legislators are not required to attend a Perfunctory
A Session convened on a regular basis by way of
constitutional provision as to its date and in which all legislative measures
are considered. The General Assembly convenes Regular Session each year
(beginning in an odd-numbered year) on the second Wednesday in January and
usually adjourns at the end of May.
A Session convened by the Governor or both
presiding officers for a specific purpose set out in a proclamation.
A Session held after adjournment of a Regular Session
when the General Assembly reconvenes to consider the Governor's
Session Laws of Illinois
An official publication prepared by
the Secretary of State that sets forth in full all Public Acts for a particular
year in numerical order.
Speaker of the House of Representatives
The presiding officer of
the House of Representatives, elected by the House from its membership.
The legislator who introduces a bill (or resolution).
Other legislators may show their support by signing on as co-sponsors. The
principal sponsor of a bill controls that bill.
Status of Legislation
The progress of a bill or resolution at any
given time in the legislative process. This can be determined either by
referring to the Illinois General Assembly's website, which
provides a constant update on all legislative action, or the Legislative
Synopsis and Digest.
Individual laws that comprise the Illinois Compiled
The expiration date of a law.
Suspension of Rules
Parliamentary procedure whereby an action can
be taken that would otherwise be out of order.
A summary of the contents of a bill required to be
attached to each bill upon introduction.
Laying on the table or killing.
Tabling removes a bill, resolution, or amendment from consideration.
Title of Bill
The caption of a bill that precedes the enacting
clause and expresses the subject of the bill.
A record of the actual floor debate that has taken place
in the Senate or the House of Representatives on a legislative day, consisting
of what is spoken by each legislator.
Unit of Local Government
municipality, township, special district, or a unit designated as a unit of
local government by law that exercises limited governmental powers or powers in
respect to limited governmental subjects. The term does not include a school
An action whereby a legislator
requests that the results of a record vote be confirmed. The names of those
legislators whose votes are to be verified are called, and if the legislator
doesn't answer, his or her vote is stricken. However, the legislator's vote is
restored to the roll if his or her presence is recognized before the presiding
officer announces the final result of the
The action of the Governor in disapproval of
a bill sent to him or her by the General Assembly.
The Governor returns the bill to the General
Assembly with specific recommendations for change. The General Assembly may do
nothing and the bill dies, the General Assembly may override the veto, or the
General Assembly may accept the Governor's proposed changes.
The Governor vetoes an item in an appropriation bill. The General
Assembly may do nothing and the item dies, or the General Assembly may override
the item veto. In either event, the remainder of the bill becomes law.
The Governor reduces the amount of an item of an
appropriation bill. The General Assembly may do nothing and the reduction
stands, or the General Assembly may restore the item to its original amount. In
either event, the remainder of the bill becomes law.
The Governor vetoes the bill in its entirety. The
General Assembly may do nothing and the bill dies, or the General Assembly may
override the total veto.
Formal expression of will or
decision by a house of the General Assembly.
A roll call vote in which each legislator
electronically votes yea, nay, or present (which is entered on the Journal).
Final passage of a bill is by record vote.
The oral expression of legislators when a question is
submitted for their determination. Response is given by yeas and nays, and the
presiding officer states his or her decision as to which side prevails. Only the
result is recorded.
To recall or remove a question
The relinquishing of the floor by
one legislator to another legislator to speak or ask a question during
This glossary is
provided to assist the public in understanding terms that are
used in the legislative process. The definitions are not, however,
in any sense "official" or "authoritative".