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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Illinois General Assembly Update: OMA Edition

We have a lot of updates on the close of session activity of the Illinois General Assembly, more than we can possibly include in one post. Today, we will focus on a few bills that passed both houses and, if signed by the Governor, would affect meetings of public bodies.

SB 2356 would, if signed by Governor Pritzker, amend the Open Meetings Act to provide that all public bodies are to meet and review the minutes of all closed meetings every six months, or as soon as practical given the nature of the public body’s business and schedule. The amendment provides that ad hoc committees may review closed session minutes either six months after the date of the last closed session or at the next scheduled committee meeting, whichever is later. 

If signed by the Governor, HB 1765 would create the Empowering Public Participation Act and prohibit law enforcement agencies and officers from intentionally conducting background checks on individuals solely because they choose or chose to speak during an open meeting of a public body, including police disciplinary boards. This prohibition does not apply when a law enforcement agency or officer has a reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct or a security threat to the meeting.

Note that the General Assembly did not pass legislation to expand or modify the new remote meeting provisions of the OMA. We reported previously on SB 482 which would have allowed the public body to make a determination as to whether a remote meeting is necessary under the new remote procedures rather than public bodies having to rely on a current State-issued disaster declaration. That bill did not move forward this session, and neither did SB 2246 which had similar provisions. This means that public bodies must still rely on the status of the State's disaster declaration if they want to continue to use the alternative remote meeting process (as opposed to relying on the traditional remote attendance process that requires a physical quorum of the public body at the meeting and limits remote attendance to specific circumstances, such as illness, business, or emergencies that prevent in-person attendance).

Post Authored by Erin Monforti & Julie Tappendorf


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