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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recent Changes to FOIA are Government-Friendly

House Bill 1716, recently signed into law on August 26, 2011, made three significant changes to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. 

The first change extends the time period from five days to 21 days for responding to requests filed by “recurrent requesters.”  Specific triggers for identifying a requestor as a recurrent requestor are set out in the new law.  News media and non-profit, academic, and scientific organizations are expressly exempted from this definition.

The second change authorizes public bodies to charge a fee of $10 per hour after the first 8 hours for personnel costs when responding to commercial requests. This change also eliminates commercial requests from review by the Public Access Counselor.

The third change eliminates the pre-approval process for the “personal privacy” or “draft document” exemptions.  Under the previous language, public bodies could not deny a request based on either of these two exemptions without the consent of the Public Access Counselor. 

You can find the legislation at: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=097-0579


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