Kevin Semlow

Kevin Semlow

The Illinois General Assembly determined the fate of thousands of bills introduced in this year’s legislative session. Those passed by the Senate and House of Representatives will be sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for review and decision.

That may sound cut and dried, but several steps happen between the floors of the House and Senate and the governor’s office, according to Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation. “IFB’s state legislative team receives a lot of questions once a bill passes the General Assembly,” Semlow said.

One of the most frequent questions is what can a governor do?

First, the General Assembly has 30 days after a bill is approved by both chambers to send it to the governor, Semlow noted. “This window of time allows the General Assembly to reconcile each bill with any amendments adopted in either chamber and put it into a clean format for the governor to review,” he said.

After a bill is sent to the governor, he has 60 days to act on it or the bill automatically becomes law.

But the governor and his staff aren’t the only ones with legislative responsibilities. Semlow pointed out the secretary of state is responsible for tracking each bill and ensuring the calendar requirements are followed.

If the governor rejects a bill, objections must be filed with the secretary of state within the 60-day period. If the General Assembly has adjourned, those objections are presented when the legislature next convenes. Frequently, that is the fall veto session.

In Illinois, the chief executive has several options. A governor may sign a bill, veto the entire bill, or veto a bill with specific recommendations for change. “A veto with recommendations is better known as an amendatory veto,” Semlow said.

With any budget appropriation bill, a governor may reduce but not increase the budget. A governor may reduce, also known as a reduction veto, or veto, line item veto specific budget lines, he added. Any portion of the bill not reduced becomes law.

“In some instances with major legislation, the process moves very quickly,” Semlow said. For example, the governor only took five days to sign the state legislation containing the redistricting of our state senator and state representative districts. But most bills will take the full amount of time, he noted. If bills passed May 31, for example, that would extend to Aug. 28.

If the governor vetoes a bill, legislators have a short period to act once they return for a regularly scheduled session. Traditionally, that is the fall veto session, but this year it could be June 15 when the Senate returns and June 16 when the House returns, Semlow added.

If the governor vetoes an entire bill, the General Assembly has two options. If lawmakers do nothing, the bill is considered dead. The General Assembly can override the veto with support from a three-fifths majority in each chamber. That makes the bill a law in the original form it was sent to the governor.

With a reduction veto of an appropriation bill, the General Assembly, likewise, has two options. If legislators do nothing, the portion of the bill not reduced becomes law and the items reduced by the governor become law in the reduced amounts. The General Assembly can override the reduction with a simple majority vote in each chamber. The bill then becomes law in its original form sent to the governor.