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Monday, February 12, 2018

New OMA and FOIA Bills Introduced

There have been a couple of new bills introduced to amend the Open Meetings Act. The first (HB 4583) adds new obligations on public bodies in complying with the OMA. The second (HB 5433) would offer OMA and FOIA training alternatives to municipal officials. 

HB 4583 would amend the OMA to do the following:

  1. Require that all special meetings be noticed in the same manner as regular meetings.
  2. Eliminate the provision in the OMA that states that the failure of a public body to post notice and an agenda of a meeting on its website does not invalidate the meeting or any action taken at the meeting.
  3. Require a public body with a website to post the meetings of all regular, special, and emergency meetings, including meetings of subsidiary bodies.
  4. Authorize a court to declare null and void any final action taken at a meeting in violation of the law, whether the meeting is closed or open. (Currently, the OMA only authorizes a court to invalidate actions taken in closed session).
  5. Mandates a court to award reasonable attorneys' fees to a prevailing party who brought a lawsuit to enforce the OMA. (Currently, the court has the authority, but not the obligation, to award attorneys' fees to prevailing parties).

HB 4533 would amend the OMA to authorize an alternative training program for elected or appointed officials. Currently, the only authorized OMA training for members of a public body is the electronic training program offered by the Public Access Counselor's office of the Illinois Attorney General. If passed, this bill would allow members of public bodies of a municipality to satisfy their OMA training obligation by attending a training conducted or sponsored by an organization that represents municipalities (i.e., the Illinois Municipal League). 

The bill also proposes to amend FOIA to authorize a similar alternative training program for FOIA officers.


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