Quinn signs law closing open-meetings loophole

Jul 20, 2012

Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Thursday to strengthen the Illinois Open Meetings Act by requiring that notice of public meetings and agendas are posted for two full days before the meeting.

“This law gives the public greater access to information and activities that impact their lives,” Quinn said. “Increasing government openness and accountability from the statewide level to the local level will make Illinois a stronger, more ethical state.”

House Bill 4687, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Pihos, R-Glen Ellyn, and Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, requires public bodies conducting a public meeting to ensure that a copy of the meeting notice and agenda is available to the public for the entire 48 hours preceding the meeting. The requirement can be satisfied by posting the meeting notice on the Internet. The law also ensures that meeting agendas provide the public with adequate information about the meeting’s actions.

This legislation was inspired by a court case centered on an Illinois municipality that posted a meeting notice before the meeting but did so in a building that was locked on the weekends and not accessible to the public. This legislation closes that loophole by requiring online posting of meeting agendas that list meeting action items in such cases and which are continuously available. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

“This new law will require all entities subject to the Open Meetings Act to provide a certain level of specificity when creating their agendas,” said Rep. Pihos.

"I'm happy we were able to work together in a bipartisan way to close a loophole that didn't serve the public," Sen. Dillard said. "This measure will help the public be better informed about what their local governments are doing."