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Thursday, September 16, 2021

New Open Meetings Act Laws

As we continue to provide updates on new bills signed into law by the Governor, today we will discuss two laws concerning open meetings.

P.A. 102-0348 enacted the Empowering Public Participation Act to restrict when law enforcement agencies or officers can conduct background checks on speakers at a meeting of a public body. The Act provides:

A law enforcement agency or an officer employed by a law enforcement agency may not knowingly and intentionally conduct a background check of a person for the sole reason of that person speaking at an open meeting of a public body, including police disciplinary boards. 5 ILCS 850/10(a).

The Act does not apply in cases where the agency or officer believes there is a reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct or a threat to security at the meeting or when the person speaking at an open meeting is under consideration for appointment to a government position by the public body.

Violation of the Act is a Class C misdemeanor but does not create any claim for damages or other relief.

P.A. 102-0653 amends the OMA to require public bodies to review their closed session meeting minutes every six months, or as soon as practicable, taking into account the nature and meeting schedule of the public body. Ad hoc committees must review closed session minutes at the later of (1) six months from the date of the meeting or (2) at the next scheduled meeting of the ad hoc committee. Prior to this amendment, the OMA required public bodies to conduct this review on a semi-annual basis.

The Act also provides that when a public body is dissolved, disbanded, eliminated, or consolidated by executive action, legislative action, or referendum, the public body taking over the previous body’s functions will review the closed session minutes of that public body.

Post Authored by Rain Montero & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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