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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Summary of OMA/FOIA Bills

There are more than a dozen bills that have been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly to amend the Open Meetings and FOIA laws.  Here is a summary of these bills (which have not yet been enacted):


HB 3664 - Amends FOIA to prohibit a public body from including a confidentiality provision in any severance or settlement agreement except where it is necessary to protect a trade secret, proprietary information, or is otherwise exempt under FOIA.

HB 4719 - Amends FOIA to authorize fines against the public body for noncompliance with FOIA, and criminal penalties against a public official (imprisonment up to 60 days) for failure to comply with FOIA.  This is a very troubling bill for public officials, particularly FOIA officers.

SB 2926 - Amends FOIA to provide that a public body is not required to copy or make available public records that it posts on the public body's website. This would eliminate FOIA requests for information that is easily accessible on the public body's website, such as meeting minutes, agendas, and ordinances.

SB 3072 - Amends FOIA to exempt from release recordings of 911 emergency calls.

SB 3273 - Amends FOIA to provide that a public body is not required to respond to requests used for a  "commercial purpose."  It also would expand the exemption regarding personnel records to include employee performance reviews and evaluations, as well as complaints and investigatory material relating to employee disciplinary cases.  It adds a new exemption for litigation materials, and requires the PAC to post a copy of each binding and advisory opinion on its website.  There are a lot of good provisions in here for public bodies.


HB 4437 - Amends OMA to delete existing language that states that if a notice or agenda is not continuously available for 48 hours prior to a meeting due to actions outside the control of the public body, then that would not invalidate actions taken at a meeting.  This is obviously problematic, because an opponent to a particular ordinance or action could simply remove the note or agenda, thus invalidating the action.

HB 4438 - Amends OMA to either require a public body to respond to questions at a meeting or follow up with a written response prior to the next meeting.  Similar legislation has been proposed in the past, but has not been enacted.

HB 4794 - Amends OMA to allow closed session negotiations of vendor contracts. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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