Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB0175
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Full Text of HB0175  99th General Assembly




State of Illinois
2015 and 2016


Introduced , by Rep. David McSweeney


5 ILCS 120/3.5

    Amends the Open Meetings Act. Provides that a request for review may be filed not later than 60 days after the discovery of an alleged violation of the Act (instead of 60 days after the alleged violation) if facts concerning the violation are not discovered within 60 days after the alleged violation but are discovered at a later date by a person utilizing reasonable diligence. Effective immediately.

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HB0175LRB099 02871 HLH 22879 b

1    AN ACT concerning State government.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 5. The Open Meetings Act is amended by changing
5Section 3.5 as follows:
6    (5 ILCS 120/3.5)
7    Sec. 3.5. Public Access Counselor; opinions.
8    (a) A person who believes that a violation of this Act by a
9public body has occurred may file a request for review with the
10Public Access Counselor established in the Office of the
11Attorney General not later than 60 days after the alleged
12violation. If facts concerning the violation are not discovered
13within the 60-day period, but are discovered at a later date by
14a person utilizing reasonable diligence, the request for review
15may be made within 60 days of the discovery of the alleged
16violation. The request for review must be in writing, must be
17signed by the requester, and must include a summary of the
18facts supporting the allegation.
19    (b) Upon receipt of a request for review, the Public Access
20Counselor shall determine whether further action is warranted.
21If the Public Access Counselor determines from the request for
22review that the alleged violation is unfounded, he or she shall
23so advise the requester and the public body and no further



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1action shall be undertaken. In all other cases, the Public
2Access Counselor shall forward a copy of the request for review
3to the public body within 7 working days. The Public Access
4Counselor shall specify the records or other documents that the
5public body shall furnish to facilitate the review. Within 7
6working days after receipt of the request for review, the
7public body shall provide copies of the records requested and
8shall otherwise fully cooperate with the Public Access
9Counselor. If a public body fails to furnish specified records
10pursuant to this Section, or if otherwise necessary, the
11Attorney General may issue a subpoena to any person or public
12body having knowledge of or records pertaining to an alleged
13violation of this Act. For purposes of conducting a thorough
14review, the Public Access Counselor has the same right to
15examine a verbatim recording of a meeting closed to the public
16or the minutes of a closed meeting as does a court in a civil
17action brought to enforce this Act.
18    (c) Within 7 working days after it receives a copy of a
19request for review and request for production of records from
20the Public Access Counselor, the public body may, but is not
21required to, answer the allegations of the request for review.
22The answer may take the form of a letter, brief, or memorandum.
23Upon request, the public body may also furnish the Public
24Access Counselor with a redacted copy of the answer excluding
25specific references to any matters at issue. The Public Access
26Counselor shall forward a copy of the answer or redacted



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1answer, if furnished, to the person submitting the request for
2review. The requester may, but is not required to, respond in
3writing to the answer within 7 working days and shall provide a
4copy of the response to the public body.
5    (d) In addition to the request for review, and the answer
6and the response thereto, if any, a requester or a public body
7may furnish affidavits and records concerning any matter
8germane to the review.
9    (e) Unless the Public Access Counselor extends the time by
10no more than 21 business days by sending written notice to the
11requester and public body that includes a statement of the
12reasons for the extension in the notice, or decides to address
13the matter without the issuance of a binding opinion, the
14Attorney General shall examine the issues and the records,
15shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and shall
16issue to the requester and the public body an opinion within 60
17days after initiating review. The opinion shall be binding upon
18both the requester and the public body, subject to
19administrative review under Section 7.5 of this Act.
20    In responding to any written request under this Section
213.5, the Attorney General may exercise his or her discretion
22and choose to resolve a request for review by mediation or by a
23means other than the issuance of a binding opinion. The
24decision not to issue a binding opinion shall not be
26    Upon receipt of a binding opinion concluding that a



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1violation of this Act has occurred, the public body shall
2either take necessary action as soon as practical to comply
3with the directive of the opinion or shall initiate
4administrative review under Section 7.5. If the opinion
5concludes that no violation of the Act has occurred, the
6requester may initiate administrative review under Section
8    (f) If the requester files suit under Section 3 with
9respect to the same alleged violation that is the subject of a
10pending request for review, the requester shall notify the
11Public Access Counselor, and the Public Access Counselor shall
12take no further action with respect to the request for review
13and shall so notify the public body.
14    (g) Records that are obtained by the Public Access
15Counselor from a public body for purposes of addressing a
16request for review under this Section 3.5 may not be disclosed
17to the public, including the requester, by the Public Access
18Counselor. Those records, while in the possession of the Public
19Access Counselor, shall be exempt from disclosure by the Public
20Access Counselor under the Freedom of Information Act.
21    (h) The Attorney General may also issue advisory opinions
22to public bodies regarding compliance with this Act. A review
23may be initiated upon receipt of a written request from the
24head of the public body or its attorney. The request must
25contain sufficient accurate facts from which a determination
26can be made. The Public Access Counselor may request additional



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1information from the public body in order to facilitate the
2review. A public body that relies in good faith on an advisory
3opinion of the Attorney General in complying with the
4requirements of this Act is not liable for penalties under this
5Act, so long as the facts upon which the opinion is based have
6been fully and fairly disclosed to the Public Access Counselor.
7(Source: P.A. 96-542, eff. 1-1-10.)
8    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
9becoming law.