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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bills Would Provide Options for Publication Notices

There are a number of Illinois laws that require notices to be published in local newspapers - for example, notice must be published in advance of hearings on zoning applications, as well as certain budget and tax levy hearings, among many others. Almost every legislative term, we see a bill or two introduced that would provide alternative options for governments to provide notice to members of the public of government actions and upcoming meetings and events. This term is no exception. 

Just last week, HB 6098 and HB 6092 were introduced in the Illinois House. If enacted, either bill would allow local governments to post required notices either on the government's website (HB6092) or on the ITAP or CMS websites (HB6098) rather than in newspapers. 

Here is the proposed language for HB 6098:
50 ILCS 205/25 (new)
Sec. 25. Publication by internet posting; digital maintenance of public records.
Notwithstanding any other  provision of law: 
(a) Any requirement for a school district or a unit of  local government to publish any notice, agenda, record, or other information or material in a newspaper by law including, but not limited to, the Open Meetings Act, the Illinois Municipal Budget Law, the Intergovernmental cooperation Act, the Counties Code, the Township Code, the Illinois Municipal Code, the Election Code, the School Code, the Airport Authorities Act, or the Civic Center Code, may instead publish such notice, agenda, record, or other information on its website or on the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal under Section 405-335 of the Department of Central  Management Services Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois. 
(b) Any requirement that a school district or unit of local government store or maintain any public record in microfilm or microfiche form shall be satisfied by the school district's or unit of local government's maintenance of such public record in digital form.  
Here is the proposed language for HB 6092:
(715 ILCS 5/2.2 new)
Sec. 2.2. Electronic publication.
(a) Whenever a governmental unit, community college district, or school district is required to provide notice by publication in a newspaper by law, order of court, or contract, the governmental unit, community college district, or school district may publish the notice on an official government website instead of in a newspaper.
(b) The governmental unit, community college district, or school district, or the host of the notice website, shall enter into a service-level agreement with an Internet service provider that guarantees the site is accessible to the public over the Internet at least 98% of the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
(c) The governmental unit's, community college district's, or school district's official Internet website shall prominently display a link to the notice web page, which be an index web page, containing a list of all current legal notices of the unit or district, with links to the full text of  those notices. The index web page shall also contain a search function and other features that improve public accessibility to legal notices.
(d) Whenever an individual is unable to access an electronic publication of a legal notice, the issuing governmental unit, community college district, or school district shall provide a copy of the notice to the individual free of charge.
(e) Notices shall remain available on the website at least until the last posting date required by law has expired or until the event described in a notice has taken place, whichever is later.
We will keep you posted on these and similar bills.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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