Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB6298
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Full Text of HB6298  98th General Assembly




State of Illinois
2013 and 2014


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 alleged violation occurs or, if facts concerning the meeting are not discovered within the 60-day period, within 60 days of the discovery of the alleged violation (currently, within 60 days after the alleged violation). Effective immediately.

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HB6298LRB098 22718 HLH 61655 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 or, if facts concerning the meeting are not
13discovered within the 60-day period, within 60 days of the
14discovery of the alleged violation. The request for review must
15be in writing, must be signed by the requester, and must
16include a summary of the facts supporting the allegation.
17    (b) Upon receipt of a request for review, the Public Access
18Counselor shall determine whether further action is warranted.
19If the Public Access Counselor determines from the request for
20review that the alleged violation is unfounded, he or she shall
21so advise the requester and the public body and no further
22action shall be undertaken. In all other cases, the Public
23Access Counselor shall forward a copy of the request for review



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



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1writing to the answer within 7 working days and shall provide a
2copy of the response to the public body.
3    (d) In addition to the request for review, and the answer
4and the response thereto, if any, a requester or a public body
5may furnish affidavits and records concerning any matter
6germane to the review.
7    (e) Unless the Public Access Counselor extends the time by
8no more than 21 business days by sending written notice to the
9requester and public body that includes a statement of the
10reasons for the extension in the notice, or decides to address
11the matter without the issuance of a binding opinion, the
12Attorney General shall examine the issues and the records,
13shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and shall
14issue to the requester and the public body an opinion within 60
15days after initiating review. The opinion shall be binding upon
16both the requester and the public body, subject to
17administrative review under Section 7.5 of this Act.
18    In responding to any written request under this Section
193.5, the Attorney General may exercise his or her discretion
20and choose to resolve a request for review by mediation or by a
21means other than the issuance of a binding opinion. The
22decision not to issue a binding opinion shall not be
24    Upon receipt of a binding opinion concluding that a
25violation of this Act has occurred, the public body shall
26either take necessary action as soon as practical to comply



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1with the directive of the opinion or shall initiate
2administrative review under Section 7.5. If the opinion
3concludes that no violation of the Act has occurred, the
4requester may initiate administrative review under Section
6    (f) If the requester files suit under Section 3 with
7respect to the same alleged violation that is the subject of a
8pending request for review, the requester shall notify the
9Public Access Counselor, and the Public Access Counselor shall
10take no further action with respect to the request for review
11and shall so notify the public body.
12    (g) Records that are obtained by the Public Access
13Counselor from a public body for purposes of addressing a
14request for review under this Section 3.5 may not be disclosed
15to the public, including the requester, by the Public Access
16Counselor. Those records, while in the possession of the Public
17Access Counselor, shall be exempt from disclosure by the Public
18Access Counselor under the Freedom of Information Act.
19    (h) The Attorney General may also issue advisory opinions
20to public bodies regarding compliance with this Act. A review
21may be initiated upon receipt of a written request from the
22head of the public body or its attorney. The request must
23contain sufficient accurate facts from which a determination
24can be made. The Public Access Counselor may request additional
25information from the public body in order to facilitate the
26review. A public body that relies in good faith on an advisory



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1opinion of the Attorney General in complying with the
2requirements of this Act is not liable for penalties under this
3Act, so long as the facts upon which the opinion is based have
4been fully and fairly disclosed to the Public Access Counselor.
5(Source: P.A. 96-542, eff. 1-1-10.)
6    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
7becoming law.