What Are Some Facts About the Illinois State Senate?


Quick Answer

The Illinois Senate was founded in 1818 and was a provision of the state's original constitution. As of 2015, the Senate contains 59 individual members, each representing roughly 217,000 citizens. Illinois state senators may have either a two- or four-year term, depending on proximity to the census.

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Full Answer

The Senate convenes in the state capitol of Springfield, with the second Wednesday in January marking each year's first official working day. As with most state legislatures, the Illinois Senate debates and passes state laws, confirms appointments to state agencies and departments and approves state budgets. Additionally, it both proposes state constitutional amendments for Illinois specifically and responds to possible federal constitutional amendments as well.

Illinois senators possess the unusual option of being able to select a vote of "yes," "no" or "present" on any given item of state business. During the final phase of voting, any bill demands 30 affirmative ballots in order to pass, with the number of remaining negative votes being inconsequential. However, "present" votes have the same value as "yes" votes in such cases, ultimately rendering them more potent and controversial than simple abstentions. While impeachment processes in Illinois begin in the House of Representatives, it is the Senate that formally tries any given case, and it can impeach a defendant with a two-thirds majority.

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