Action taken at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield has impact across the state. So many things happen each year that are relevant to your viewers and listeners, yet with a legislative press corps declining in numbers, reporters find themselves trying to cover the legislature from their home base, a great distance from Springfield.
This section is designed to give you a basic understanding of the process and some links that will aid in your task. Bookmark the Illinois General Assembly website. This site can provide much information, including schedules, contact information for lawmakers, current laws and all of the legislative proposals. Get familiar with the site and it can aid in reporting on what’s going on.
The General Assembly consists of 59 Senators and a 118 member House. The legislature typically meets throughout the first five months of the year. In an ordinary year, it re-convenes for a its fall veto session in October or November. At other times, special sessions may be convened by the Governor or by a joint proclamation of the House and Senate leaders.
The quantity of proposed legislation each year is massive. In the end a few hundred bills may become law. Often times you find legislation touted by a local lawmaker for publicity may have no real chance of passage. The more you become familiar with the process, the better armed you are in reporting on what is substantive.
For more details on the functions and activities refer to the Illinois Handbook of Government.