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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

OMA Training Requirement Alternatives Not for Everyone

We've written before about the Illinois Open Meetings Act electronic training requirement for members of public bodies contained in Section 1.05 of the OMA.  That statute requires all elected and appointed members of a public body to complete the electronic training curriculum developed and administered by the Attorney General.  The law was enacted in 2010, and all then-serving members of public bodies had a year to complete the training.  For any member taking office after 2010, training must be completed within 90 days after the member takes the oath of office or otherwise assumes responsibilities in his or her position.  After completion of the program, the member is supposed to file a copy of the certificate of completion with the public body. 

Since the law was enacted in 2010, there have been a few amendments to this statute to approve alternative training programs for certain government bodies.  For example, elected school board members can satisfy the electronic training requirement by participating in a course of training "sponsored or conducted by an organization created under Article 23 of the School Code."  A commissioner of a drainage district or a director of a soil and water conservation district can satisfy the training requirements by participating in a training course conducted by an organization representing drainage districts, respectively.  Recently, the law was amended to allow elected or appointed members of a park district, forest preserve district, or conservation district to satisfy the training requirements by participating in a training course conducted by an organization that represents park districts.

Noticeably absent from these approved training alternatives is any provision for members of municipal, township, or library public bodies.  Municipal, township, and library officials would certainly benefit from having the same opportunities as these other government officials to participate in live training sessions, which offer certain advantages to a static website training such as the ability to ask questions and have a more interactive training experience.  Hopefully, the organizations that represent municipalities, townships, and libraries will lobby the Illinois General Assembly for alternative training options similar to those already offered to other governmental officials.

If you are an elected or appointed member of a public body and haven't either completed the electronic training program or attended one of the alternative training programs (if applicable), you should take care of that as soon as possible.  

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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