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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

PAC Says Liquor Commission Not Subject to OMA

The PAC recently issued two advisory opinions finding that a Liquor Commission was not a public body subject to the Open Meetings Act. 

In 2016 PAC 43179, a requester had submitted a request for review to the PAC, alleging that the Bloomington liquor commission violated Section 2.01 of the Open Meetings  Act by conducting a special meeting and taking action without a quorum present. The Mayor, who also served as the City's liquor commissioner, conducted the meeting. 

The PAC looked to the definition of “public body” to determine whether the commission is subject to the Open Meetings Act. Section 1.02 of the OMA defines “public body” as: 
“…all legislative, executive, administrative or advisory bodies of the State, counties, townships, cities, villages, incorporated towns, school districts and all other municipal corporations, boards, bureaus, committees or commissions of this State, and any subsidiary bodies of any of the foregoing including but not limited to committees and subcommittees which are supported in whole or in part by tax revenue, or which expend tax revenue, except the General Assembly and committees or commissions thereof. "Public body" includes tourism boards and convention or civic center boards located in counties that are contiguous to the Mississippi River with populations of more than 250,000 but less than 300,000. "Public body" includes the Health Facilities and Services Review Board. "Public body" does not include a child death review team or the Illinois Child Death Review Teams Executive Council established under the Child Death Review Team Act, an ethics commission acting under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, a regional youth advisory board or the Statewide Youth Advisory Board established under the Department of Children and Family Services Statewide Youth Advisory Board Act, or the Illinois Independent Tax Tribunal.”  5 ILCS 120/1.02.
The PAC also looked to the Liquor Control Act of 1934, which provides that the Mayor “may appoint a person or persons to assist him in the exercise of the powers and the performance of the duties herein provider for such local liquor control commissioner.” 235 ILCS 5/4-2. The PAC found that this language confirmed that a liquor commission only acts to assist the Mayor in carrying out his duties as liquor commissioner, and does not assist him in carrying out his duties as head of the City Council.  As such, the PAC determined that the commission is not an advisory or subsidiary body of a public body such as the City Council and no violation of the OMA occurred.  

The same requester then submitted another request for review, 2016 PAC 42868, alleging that the Bloomington Liquor Commission violated the OMA by holding a meeting that was not open to the public.  The requester also alleged that the members of the commission violated section 1.05 of the OMA by failing to complete electronic training.  The commission responded that the commission is not a “public body” as defined by the OMA, and the PAC agreed.  The PAC looked to its opinion in 2016 PAC 43179, in which it found that the commission is not a public body subject to the OMA.  The PAC followed its previous opinion and again found that a liquor commission is not a public body and no violation of the OMA occurred.  

While these opinions are not binding on any other public body in the state, they do offer some guidance on how the PAC might review similar circumstances.

Post Authored by Erin Baker, Ancel Glink


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