|Public Act 099-0402|
|HB0175 Enrolled||LRB099 02871 HLH 22879 b|
AN ACT concerning State government.
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
The Open Meetings Act is amended by changing
Section 3.5 as follows:
(5 ILCS 120/3.5)
Public Access Counselor; opinions.
(a) A person who believes that a violation of this Act by a
public body has occurred may file a request for review with the
Public Access Counselor established in the Office of the
Attorney General not later than 60 days after the alleged
If facts concerning the violation are not discovered
within the 60-day period, but are discovered at a later date,
not exceeding 2 years after the alleged violation, by a person
utilizing reasonable diligence, the request for review may be
made within 60 days of the discovery of the alleged violation.
The request for review must be in writing, must be signed by
the requester, and must include a summary of the facts
supporting the allegation.
The changes made by this amendatory
Act of the 99th General Assembly apply to violations alleged to
have occurred at meetings held on or after the effective date
of this amendatory Act of the 99th General Assembly.
(b) Upon receipt of a request for review, the Public Access
Counselor shall determine whether further action is warranted.
If the Public Access Counselor determines from the request for
review that the alleged violation is unfounded, he or she shall
so advise the requester and the public body and no further
action shall be undertaken. In all other cases, the Public
Access Counselor shall forward a copy of the request for review
to the public body within 7 working days. The Public Access
Counselor shall specify the records or other documents that the
public body shall furnish to facilitate the review. Within 7
working days after receipt of the request for review, the
public body shall provide copies of the records requested and
shall otherwise fully cooperate with the Public Access
Counselor. If a public body fails to furnish specified records
pursuant to this Section, or if otherwise necessary, the
Attorney General may issue a subpoena to any person or public
body having knowledge of or records pertaining to an alleged
violation of this Act. For purposes of conducting a thorough
review, the Public Access Counselor has the same right to
examine a verbatim recording of a meeting closed to the public
or the minutes of a closed meeting as does a court in a civil
action brought to enforce this Act.
(c) Within 7 working days after it receives a copy of a
request for review and request for production of records from
the Public Access Counselor, the public body may, but is not
required to, answer the allegations of the request for review.
The answer may take the form of a letter, brief, or memorandum.
Upon request, the public body may also furnish the Public
Access Counselor with a redacted copy of the answer excluding
specific references to any matters at issue. The Public Access
Counselor shall forward a copy of the answer or redacted
answer, if furnished, to the person submitting the request for
review. The requester may, but is not required to, respond in
writing to the answer within 7 working days and shall provide a
copy of the response to the public body.
(d) In addition to the request for review, and the answer
and the response thereto, if any, a requester or a public body
may furnish affidavits and records concerning any matter
germane to the review.
(e) Unless the Public Access Counselor extends the time by
no more than 21 business days by sending written notice to the
requester and public body that includes a statement of the
reasons for the extension in the notice, or decides to address
the matter without the issuance of a binding opinion, the
Attorney General shall examine the issues and the records,
shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and shall
issue to the requester and the public body an opinion within 60
days after initiating review. The opinion shall be binding upon
both the requester and the public body, subject to
administrative review under Section 7.5 of this Act.
In responding to any written request under this Section
3.5, the Attorney General may exercise his or her discretion
and choose to resolve a request for review by mediation or by a
means other than the issuance of a binding opinion. The
decision not to issue a binding opinion shall not be
Upon receipt of a binding opinion concluding that a
violation of this Act has occurred, the public body shall
either take necessary action as soon as practical to comply
with the directive of the opinion or shall initiate
administrative review under Section 7.5. If the opinion
concludes that no violation of the Act has occurred, the
requester may initiate administrative review under Section
(f) If the requester files suit under Section 3 with
respect to the same alleged violation that is the subject of a
pending request for review, the requester shall notify the
Public Access Counselor, and the Public Access Counselor shall
take no further action with respect to the request for review
and shall so notify the public body.
(g) Records that are obtained by the Public Access
Counselor from a public body for purposes of addressing a
request for review under this Section 3.5 may not be disclosed
to the public, including the requester, by the Public Access
Counselor. Those records, while in the possession of the Public
Access Counselor, shall be exempt from disclosure by the Public
Access Counselor under the Freedom of Information Act.
(h) The Attorney General may also issue advisory opinions
to public bodies regarding compliance with this Act. A review
may be initiated upon receipt of a written request from the
head of the public body or its attorney. The request must
contain sufficient accurate facts from which a determination
can be made. The Public Access Counselor may request additional
information from the public body in order to facilitate the
review. A public body that relies in good faith on an advisory
opinion of the Attorney General in complying with the
requirements of this Act is not liable for penalties under this
Act, so long as the facts upon which the opinion is based have
been fully and fairly disclosed to the Public Access Counselor.
(Source: P.A. 96-542, eff. 1-1-10.)
This Act takes effect upon