Illinois General Assembly

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Illinois General Assembly

Seal of Illinois.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 9, 2013
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Senate President:   John Cullerton (D)
House Speaker:  Michael Madigan (D)
Majority Leader:   James Clayborne (D) (Senate),
Barbara Flynn Currie (D) (House)
Minority Leader:   Christine Radogno (R) (Senate),
Tom Cross (R) (House)
Members:  59 (Senate), 118 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art IV, Illinois Constitution
Salary:   $67,836/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012
59 seats (Senate)
118 seats (House)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Illinois General Assembly has control
The Illinois General Assembly is the state legislature of Illinois, created by the first Illinois Constitution adopted in 1818. It works beside the executive branch led by the state governor and the judicial branch led by the Illinois Supreme Court. The Illinois General Assembly consists of the Illinois House of Representatives, the lower chamber, and the Illinois State Senate, the upper chamber.

The Illinois General Assembly convenes at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. Its first official working day is the second Wednesday in January each year. Its primary duties are to pass bills into law, approve the state budget, confirm appointments to state departments and agencies, act on federal constitutional amendments, and propose constitutional amendments for Illinois. It also has the power to override gubernatorial vetoes through a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber.

Illinois Ballot Question 1 in 1980 altered Section 1 of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution to reduce the number of members of the Illinois House of Representatives from 177 members to 118 members beginning with the elections in 1982.

As of May 2015, Illinois is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.


Article IV of the Illinois Constitution establishes when the General Assembly is to be in session. Section 5 of Article IV states that the General Assembly will convene its regular session on the second Wednesday of January.

Section 5 also creates rules for the convening of special sessions. The section allows the Governor of Illinois to convene the General Assembly or the Senate alone. When the Governor calls a special session, the General Assembly can generally only deal with matters related to the purpose of the session, as stated by the Governor's proclamation of the session, but they can also deal with impeachments or confirmation of appointments. Section 5 also allows the presiding officers of both houses of the General Assembly to convene a special session through joint proclamation.


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 9 through May 31.

Major issues

Legislators failed to move on the state's $95 billion pension crisis during the previous legislature and must address it once again. Same-sex marriage is also expected to be a major issue.[1]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the General Assembly was in regular session from January 11, meeting throughout the year.


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the General Assembly was in session from January 12-June 1. A special session was called by Governor Pat Quinn to settle disputes regarding Illinois construction projects on June 22, 2011.[2]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the General Assembly was in regular session from January 13th to May 7th.



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Illinois House of Representatives are paid $67,836/year. Additionally, legislators receive $111/day per diem.[3]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Illinois legislators assume office the second Wednesday in January.


See also: Redistricting in Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly is responsible for redistricting. If the General Assembly fails to meet the deadlines to have a redistricting plan in place, an 8-member back-up commission is used. Illinois is one of a few states to enact a hybrid method of redistricting.

2010 census

Illinois received its 2010 local census data on February 14, 2011. The state population increased from about 12.4 million to 12.8 million residents, a 3.3 percent growth.[4] The state's Latino population grew by 33% from 2000 to 2010, reaching 2 million. Meanwhile, non-Latino population declined by 0.8%.[5]

2011 was the first time under the current state Constitution that one party -- namely the Democrats -- controlled the state House, Senate and governorship during redistricting. A number of Republicans expressed concern that Democrats would draw partisan maps to serve their own interests.[6] Democrats released their proposed Senate map on May 19, 2011, and their House plan the following day. Democrats defended the new maps while being criticized from nearly all sides. Republicans said the maps would likely guarantee a Republican minority for the next decade. The new lines merged a number of current Republican districts, potentially leading to runoffs between incumbents in several districts.[7]

Republicans released counter-proposals on May 26, saying their maps were more fair. Democrats, however, easily passed their plans in both chambers, 35-22 in the Senate, and 64-52 in the House. Governor Pat Quinn (D) signed the new maps into law on June 3.[8]

Role in State Budget

Main article: Illinois state budget

On the third Wednesday of February, the Illinois General Assembly receives an annual budget proposal from the Governor. The annual budget proposal is for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1st. The Legislature then revises this budget over the course of the next couple of months. In May, the Legislature votes on a budget.[9]

The Illinois General Assembly has had difficulty passing a balanced budget. Illinois faced a combined budget gap of $11.5 billion for FY 2009 ($4.3 billion) and 2010 ($7.2 billion). [10] July 7, 2009. Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly could not agree on cuts and raising income taxes, leading to Gov. Quinn’s veto on July 7, 2009 of budget measures, his second budget veto in a week.[11] The stalemate and ongoing fiscal crisis is not anticipated to be solved by the General Assembly’s fall 2009 Veto Session that started on October 14. State Comptroller Dan Hynes claims Illinois currently has $3 billion in unpaid bills.[12]


The Illinois State Senate is the upper chamber of the Illinois General Assembly. It is made up of 59 senators elected from individual legislative districts determined by population. Each member represents an average of 217,468 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[13] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 210,496.[14] There is a movement to modify senatorial districts on a geographic basis in order to more accurately reflect the cultural, racial and political makeup of outstate and downstate. In order to avoid complete turnovers in Senate membership, under the Illinois Constitution of 1970, some senators are elected to two-year terms while others are elected to four-year terms. Senate districts are divided into three groups. One or two of these groups are elected every two years for either a two or four year term. The placement of the two-year term in the decade varies from one district to another, with all districts’ terms defined as 2-4-4, 4-2-4, or 4-4-2.

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 39
     Republican Party 20
Total 59

House of Representatives

The Illinois House of Representatives is the lower house of the Illinois General Assembly. It is made of 118 representatives elected from individual legislative districts for a two-year term with no term limits. Each member represents an average of 108,734 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[15] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 105,248.[16]

Before the Cutback Amendment to the state constitution in 1980, the state was divided into 59 "legislative districts", each of which elected three representatives, yielding a House of 177 members. This unusual system was even more distinctive in that the individual voter was given three legislative votes to cast, and could cast either one vote each for three candidates, all three votes for one candidate (known as a "bullet vote"), or even 1 1/2 votes each for two candidates. After the passage of the Cutback Amendment, this system was abolished and representatives were elected from 118 single member constituencies.

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 71
     Republican Party 47
Total 118


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Illinois
Partisan breakdown of the Illinois legislature from 1992-2013

Illinois State Senate: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Illinois State Senate for 12 years while the Republicans were the majority for 10 years. The final 11 years of the study depicted a shift in the Illinois senate with all 11 years being Democratic trifectas.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Illinois State House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Illinois State House of Representatives for 20 years while the Republicans were the majority for 2 years. The Illinois State House of Representatives is one of 18 state Houses that was Democratic for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. During the final 11 years of the study, Illinois was under Democratic trifectas.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Illinois, the Illinois State Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Illinois state government(1992-2013).PNG

Roles and responsibilities

Amending the constitution

Main article: Amending state constitutions

The Illinois state legislature under Article XIV of the Illinois Constitution can begin the process of amending the state's constitution in two different ways:

  • A constitutional convention can be held if 60% of the members of both houses of the Illinois General Assembly vote to place such a question on the ballot.
  • An legislatively-referred constitutional amendment can be proposed if 60% of the members of both houses of the Illinois General Assembly vote to put in on the ballot, with some constraints which include:
  • The legislature can only propose to amend up to three articles of the constitution in any one election.
  • The legislature is not allowed to propose any amendments when a constitutional convention has been called up through the time that an election is held on any proposed amendments or revisions that arise from that convention.

Whether the question at hand is about holding a constitutional convention, ratifying an amendment proposed by the Illinois General Assembly, or adopting an initiated constitutional amendment, these ballot questions are only considered successful if voters say "yes" by a supermajority vote of 60% of those voting on the question or a majority of those who cast a ballot for any office in that election.

Joint Legislative Committees

The Illinois General Assembly has three joint standing committees.

External links