HB0175 EnrolledLRB099 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,
14not exceeding 2 years after the alleged violation, by a person
15utilizing reasonable diligence, the request for review may be
16made within 60 days of the discovery of the alleged violation.
17The request for review must be in writing, must be signed by
18the requester, and must include a summary of the facts
19supporting the allegation. The changes made by this amendatory
20Act of the 99th General Assembly apply to violations alleged to
21have occurred at meetings held on or after the effective date
22of this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly.
23    (b) Upon receipt of a request for review, the Public Access



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1Counselor shall determine whether further action is warranted.
2If the Public Access Counselor determines from the request for
3review that the alleged violation is unfounded, he or she shall
4so advise the requester and the public body and no further
5action shall be undertaken. In all other cases, the Public
6Access Counselor shall forward a copy of the request for review
7to the public body within 7 working days. The Public Access
8Counselor shall specify the records or other documents that the
9public body shall furnish to facilitate the review. Within 7
10working days after receipt of the request for review, the
11public body shall provide copies of the records requested and
12shall otherwise fully cooperate with the Public Access
13Counselor. If a public body fails to furnish specified records
14pursuant to this Section, or if otherwise necessary, the
15Attorney General may issue a subpoena to any person or public
16body having knowledge of or records pertaining to an alleged
17violation of this Act. For purposes of conducting a thorough
18review, the Public Access Counselor has the same right to
19examine a verbatim recording of a meeting closed to the public
20or the minutes of a closed meeting as does a court in a civil
21action brought to enforce this Act.
22    (c) Within 7 working days after it receives a copy of a
23request for review and request for production of records from
24the Public Access Counselor, the public body may, but is not
25required to, answer the allegations of the request for review.
26The answer may take the form of a letter, brief, or memorandum.



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



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1means other than the issuance of a binding opinion. The
2decision not to issue a binding opinion shall not be
4    Upon receipt of a binding opinion concluding that a
5violation of this Act has occurred, the public body shall
6either take necessary action as soon as practical to comply
7with the directive of the opinion or shall initiate
8administrative review under Section 7.5. If the opinion
9concludes that no violation of the Act has occurred, the
10requester may initiate administrative review under Section
12    (f) If the requester files suit under Section 3 with
13respect to the same alleged violation that is the subject of a
14pending request for review, the requester shall notify the
15Public Access Counselor, and the Public Access Counselor shall
16take no further action with respect to the request for review
17and shall so notify the public body.
18    (g) Records that are obtained by the Public Access
19Counselor from a public body for purposes of addressing a
20request for review under this Section 3.5 may not be disclosed
21to the public, including the requester, by the Public Access
22Counselor. Those records, while in the possession of the Public
23Access Counselor, shall be exempt from disclosure by the Public
24Access Counselor under the Freedom of Information Act.
25    (h) The Attorney General may also issue advisory opinions
26to public bodies regarding compliance with this Act. A review



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1may be initiated upon receipt of a written request from the
2head of the public body or its attorney. The request must
3contain sufficient accurate facts from which a determination
4can be made. The Public Access Counselor may request additional
5information from the public body in order to facilitate the
6review. A public body that relies in good faith on an advisory
7opinion of the Attorney General in complying with the
8requirements of this Act is not liable for penalties under this
9Act, so long as the facts upon which the opinion is based have
10been fully and fairly disclosed to the Public Access Counselor.
11(Source: P.A. 96-542, eff. 1-1-10.)
12    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
13becoming law.