Legislative Process

Key components of the legislative process are helpful to understand.

Step 1 - Drafting and Pre-Approval Stage
Basically, in this stage you typically bring together all the various interests, sit down, and agree to hammer out legislative language that everyone can support! Depending on the issue, this process may include speaking with your professional adversaries, but always seeking consultation with state regulators on your proposal.

According to a typical legislative calendar, new bills must be introduced no later than late February for the House and no later than mid-February for the Senate. As of the close of those time-periods, our designated Sponsors will introduce that language and publicly file it in the House and Senate for consideration. It is at this time, after the new language has been circulated among the stakeholders, the Department of Financial & Professional Regulation and approved by the IANA GR Committee, that your critical grassroots role commences. Mark your February and March calendars! Make time to write a letter or make a phone call to your state legislators!!

Step 2 - Introduction
When the legislation is introduced in the House and Senate, it will first be read into each Chamber's record and assigned to the Rules Committee. This is the first reading. From there, a distinct substantive standing committee will be assigned to take up our bill for consideration. Most likely, our bill will be assigned to the Registration & Regulation Committee in the House and to the Licensed Activities Committee in the Senate. Depending upon the issue, some bills are never advanced by the Rules Committee. Alternatively, some bills that are referred from the Rules Committee to a standing committee never advance for a hearing or Committee passage.

The distinguishing factor in bills that advance and bills that fail to advance is fairly simple to pinpoint - were legislators actively engaged by the proponents of the bill? It is because of that critical factor that the IANA must mobilize our members to actively communicate with local state legislators during this time. As previously noted, this grassroots process starts once the final language is deemed acceptable to the IANA. We will alert you by email and provide you with the talking points.

Step 3 - Committee Process
Your IANA statehouse lobbying team will oversee the bill’s navigation through this next stage – the committee hearing process. On or before March -April, the standing committees where our bills are assigned will hold a hearing in the Statehouse to take testimony by proponents, opponents, healthcare interests, the Department, and members of the public desiring to offer input. The Member sponsor of the bill will provide the initial testimony and seek an affirmative vote by a simple majority of the committee. Sometimes there will be numerous stakeholder meetings and new language offered for the measure, and the bill is actually amended in committee.

From our point of view, it is critical that no hostile amendments be made to the bill during this process that negatively impact our profession and our ability to provide care to the citizens of Illinois. It is possible that some opposition will actively seek to persuade legislators to make changes that are favorable to their profession or business, if CRNAs do not make their preferences known.

Step 4 - Floor Action
Once the bill passes, it is then reported to the Floor for what is called the second reading. Because the Illinois Constitution requires that all bills be read on three separate days in each Chamber before being sent to the Governor, the bill is then read a second time in summary format on the Floor. At this stage, the sponsor of the legislation has an opportunity to disclose whether there are new committee amendments or additional Floor amendments that are being sought for a vote.

Following this inquiry on the Floor, the Member asks that the Chamber move the bill to third reading. The third reading actually occurs on a subsequent day and it is for final passage, absent further amendment, by that Chamber. At this stage, all Members of the House or Senate (depending upon where the bill was introduced) have an opportunity to debate and vote on the bill. Here again, some measures fail to be placed upon the calendar for a vote because legislative support is deemed lacking. And, legislative support is determined by whether or not the legislators were actively engaged by the proponents of the legislation.

Step 5 - Switch Chambers
The entire process detailed here is repeated in the second legislative Chamber (House Bills move to the Senate after passage, and Senate Bills move to the House after passage. They retain their original number.) with additional deadlines arising through late May and even fall depending upon the length of Session.

Step 6 - Referred to the Governor
Once the bill has passed both Chambers, it proceeds to the Governor for approval. During this stage in the legislative process, the Governor can (1) approve by signing into law; (2) Veto or (3) issue an Amendatory Veto. The latter two actions are subject to legislative review and approval in November of each year - known as the Fall Veto Session.

Can I Make a Difference?
Absolutely - a significant impact. The most successful professions and businesses in Illinois closely monitor the General Assembly and frequently voice their positions on public policy decisions, particularly legislation under consideration in Springfield that affects their bottom line. Legislators actually look to you, the CRNA, and your lobbying team for guidance and practical applications, legal barriers, and alike on all new proposals. You are in the best position to provide them with the real life examples and expertise they do not claim to have, but strive to appreciate. It is often quoted, "People, all of us…get the government they deserve". We encourage you to take one hour out of your month to go meet with your two area legislators in their district offices, call them personally, write them, participate in our Spring Lobby Day or otherwise communicate our IANA agenda – it will have a real impact on CRNAs statewide.

What is the First Action Step?
Identify your area State Senator and Representative, their district office contact information and maintain it, readily accessible, to utilize upon IANA's call for Member grassroots assistance. We will be seeking your support for favorable amendments to Illinois Nurse Practice Act, when offered, once we have endorsed their actual content. And, equally important, your critical voice in opposing hostile amendments and bills harmful to our profession, as may be offered by others in the healthcare debate.