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Government LawyersThe newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Government Lawyers

October 2011, vol. 13, no. 1

Governor signs Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act changes

The 97th General Assembly passed a number of amendments to the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act. Many of those amendments were signed by the Governor. A summary of the new Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act amendments follows.

Freedom of Information Act

Public Act 97-579, effective August 26, 2011. Amends the Freedom of Information Act to define “recurrent requester” (a person that: (i) in the 12 months immediately preceding the request, has submitted to the same public body a minimum of 50 requests for records; (ii) submits a minimum of 15 requests for records within a 30-day period; or (iii) files a minimum of seven requests for records within a seven-day period) and to establish longer periods of time within which public bodies may respond to requests from recurrent requesters. Authorizes a public body to charge a fee for each hour spent by personnel in searching for and retrieving requested records pursuant to a commercial request. Specifies that a person whose records request is made for a commercial purpose may not file a request for review with the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor, except for the limited purpose of determining whether the public body accurately characterized the request as a commercial request. Eliminates the requirement that public bodies seek preauthorization from the Public Access Counselor prior to withholding records under sections 7(1)(c) or 7(1)(f) of FOIA.

Public Act 97-452, effective August 19, 2011. Amends the Freedom of Information Act to exempt correspondence and records that may not be disclosed under section 11-9 of the Public Aid Code or that pertain to appeals conducted under section 11-8 of the Public Aid Code from the Act’s inspection and copying requirements.

Public Act 97-342, effective August 12, 2011. Amends the Freedom of Information Act to exempt from disclosure “personally identifiable information” collected by the Toll Highway Authority. Defines “personally identifiable information.”

Public Act 97-385, effective August 15, 2011. Amends the Freedom of Information Act to exempt from copying and inspection under the Act: (I) the names, addresses, and other personal information of persons who are minors and are participants and registrants in programs of park districts, forest preserve districts, conservation districts, recreation areas, and special recreation areas and (ii) the names, addresses, and other personal information of persons who are participants and registrants in programs of park districts, forest preserve districts, conservation districts, recreation areas, and special recreation areas where such programs are targeted primarily to minors.

Public Act 97-080, effective July 5, 2011. Amends the Freedom of Information Act to provide that the names and information of people who have applied for or received Firearm Owner’s Identification Cards under the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act are exempt from inspection and copying, except in criminal investigations as otherwise provided for in that Act.

Open Meetings Act

Public Act 97-609, effective January 1, 2012. Requires employers participating in the Illinois Municipal Retirement fund to post on their Web sites, within six business days of approving their budget, the “total compensation package” for each employee making over $75,000 per year. If the employer does not maintain a Web site, then the employer must post a physical copy of the information at its principal office. Further, at least 6 days before an employer participating in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund approves an employee’s total compensation package that is equal to or in excess of $150,000, the employer must post the employee’s total compensation on the Web site. Defines the term “total compensation package.”

Public Act 97-504, effective January 1, 2012. Amends the Open Meetings Act to require each sitting elected or appointed member of a public body subject to the Act to successfully complete the electronic training curriculum developed and administered by the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor within one year of the effective date of the amendatory Act. Requires each elected or appointed member of a public body who becomes a member of a public body after the effective date of the amendatory Act to successfully complete the electronic training curriculum developed and administered by the Public Access Counselor not later than the 90th day after the date the member either: (I) takes the oath of office, if the member is required to take an oath of office to assume the person’s duties as a member of the public body; or (ii) otherwise assumes responsibilities as a member of the public body, if the member is not required to take an oath of office to assume the person’s duties as a member of the governmental body. Requires each member who successfully completes the curriculum to file a copy of the certificate of completion with the public body. Provides that the failure of one or more members of a public body to complete the training required by this amendment does not affect the validity of an action taken by the public body. Provides that an elected or appointed member of a public body subject to OMA who has successfully completed the required training and filed a copy of the certificate of completion with the public body is not required to subsequently complete that training. Permits school board members to satisfy the training requirements by successful completion of a course of training provided by a qualifying school board association.

Public Act 97-452, effective August 19, 2011. Amends the Open Meetings Act to authorize a public body to hold a closed meeting to discuss correspondence and records (I) that may not be disclosed under a section 11-9 of the Public Aid Code or (ii) that pertain to appeals conducted under section 11-8 of the Public Aid Code.

Public Act 97-318, effective January 1, 2012. Authorizes the closure of meetings between internal or external auditors and governmental audit committees, finance committees, and their equivalents, when the discussion involves internal control weaknesses, identification of potential fraud risk areas, known or suspected frauds, and fraud interviews conducted in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards of the United States of America. ■


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