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State Legislative Information

Step by Step Process

There are several types of legislative history documents available in Illinois: public acts, bills, and floor debates. Generally, the best evidence for Illinois legislative history is the House and Senate floor debates. All debates back to 1971 are now available online at

Step 1: Locate the Public Act Number 

  • Locate the statute in Illinois Compiled Statutes Annotated in Westlaw or Illinois Compiled Statues in Lexis
  • Look at the credit following the text of the statute.

Step 2: Review the legislative history documents available on Westlaw/Lexis

  • When looking at an Illinois statute in Westlaw, click the History tab for a collection of the following legislative documents:

    • House & Senate transcripts (1999 – present)
    • House & Senate journals (1999 – present)
    • Public Acts (1988 – present)
    • House & Senate Bill statuses (1999 – present)
    • House & Senate Bills (2005 – present)

Step 3: Review the documents available on the General Assembly Website:

  • In addition to Westlaw, the Illinois General Assembly website ( also contains a wealth of Illinois legislative information:

    • House & Senate transcripts (1971 – present)
    • House & Senate journals (1999 – present)
    • Public Acts (1997 – present)
    • House & Senate bill status reports (1997 – present)
    • House & Senate Bills & Resolutions (1997 – present)

General tips:

Searching for Legislative History documents from 1971-1999 or bills passed between 1971 and 1999:

  • Consult the “Master Index” on for both the House and Senate by searching under your General Assembly year and bill number. (This Index is found under "Transcripts" page and then "Listing" for each chamber.)
  • Pre-1997 floor debates can be found in the Transcripts of the House and Senate Debates of the Illinois General Assembly, available on (1971 – present).

The Legislative Synopsis & Digest (LSD) will tell you everything that has happened to the bill, what amendments were proposed and what those amendments said. Use the LSD to determine the dates of relevant debates (see the box at the bottom of this column, Readings relevant to legislative history).

  • Print: For General Assemblies prior to the 90th (1997), use the LSD print set at KFI 1215 I35.
  • Online: From the 90th General Assembly on (1997-) the LSD is available online at
    • Click "Public Acts."
    • Click "Public Acts/Leg. From Previous General Assemblies."
    • Select the relevant General Assembly and click "Go!"
    • Under the Legislation & Laws section, click "Listing."
    • Select the bill number range for your bill.
    • Select the bill.  You will be shown a page with the same information as in the print LSD. (Note: for older sessions the page layout may be inconsistent. You may need to click on links labeled "Bill Status" and/or "View All Actions" to see the full information.)

If you are researching recent legislation the text of debates may not yet be available online. Contact the Illinois House and Senate Transcribing offices to obtain copies of debates ($.50 per page or $5 per audio CD):

  • House Transcribing Office: (217) 782-1038
  • Senate Transcribing Office: (217) 782-6653
  • Audio recordings of House Committee meetings are also available from 1975 onwards from the House Committee Clerk, (217) 782-8100 ($5.00 per cassette or CD).

Additional Research Guides

Several libraries have put together excellent, detailed guides on Illinois legislative history. We encourage you to review the following libraries' guides: