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Illinois Government
Lesson 4 - How Laws are Made

Article IV of the Illinois Constitution governs the process of making laws. It states, "[t]he General Assembly shall enact laws only by bills. Bills may originate in either house, but may be amended or rejected by the other." In general, a bill becomes law after passing both houses of the General Assembly with a majority vote and receiving the Governor's signature of approval.

A bill may start out in either the House or the Senate. The State law-making process uses committees, much like the Federal government. The process is almost the same, no matter where the bill originates. Bills, except bills for appropriations and for the codification, revision or rearrangement of laws, are confined to one subject.

Each bill must be read by title on three different days in each chamber before it can be passed. The first reading introduces the bill. The second reading allows for amendments. When a bill is called for its third reading, it is voted on.

A bill passed by both houses must be sent to the Governor within 30 days. The Governor then has 60 calendar days to sign it, or to return it with his veto. If the Governor does nothing, the bill will automatically become a law after the 60-day period. If the Governor vetoes a bill that has been sent to him, the bill can still become law if the General Assembly overrides the veto by passing the bill again by a 3/5 vote in both houses.

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