Illinois Open Meetings Act
The Illinois Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Title 5 chapeter 120 statutes 1-7.5 of the Illinois code define the law.
Relevant legal cases
- See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA
Here is a list of open meetings lawsuits in Illinois. For more information go the page or go to Illinois sunshine lawsuits.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon to the right of the Year heading)
We do not currently have any pages on open meetings litigation in Illinois.
Proposed open meetings legislation
We do not currently have any legislation for Illinois in 2010.
Statement of purposeThe statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states,
" It is the public policy of this State that public bodies exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business and that the people have a right to be informed as to the conduct of their business. In order that the people shall be informed, the General Assembly finds and declares that it is the intent of this Act to ensure that the actions of public bodies be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The General Assembly further declares it to be the public policy of this State that its citizens shall be given advance notice of and the right to attend all meetings at which any business of a public body is discussed or acted upon in any way. Exceptions to the public's right to attend exist only in those limited circumstances where the General Assembly has specifically determined that the public interest would be clearly endangered or the personal privacy or guaranteed rights of individuals would be clearly in danger of unwarranted invasion."
Which government meetings are open to the public?
The law states that all meetings, whether in person or by video or audio conference, telephone call, electronic means of any sort, where a majority of a quorum of a public body (or three members for a five-member body) meets to discuss or act on business in any way shall be open to the public except when the General Assembly determines the meeting closed.
What government bodies are subject to the laws?
The act defines government body as all legislative, executive, administrative and advisory boards of the state and all its political subdivisions as well as any groups funded in part by tax revenue or which dispense tax revenue. The act explicitly includes tourism boards and convention or civic center boards in counties along the Mississippi with populations of more than 250,000 but less than 300,000 and he Health Facilities and Services Review Board.
Notable exemptions to the definition of public body include:
- The General Assembly and its committees
- Child death review team or the Illinois Child Death Review Teams Executive Council
The legislature is explicitly exempted from the Illinois Open Meetings Act under Open Meetings Act, 5 ILCS 120/1.02.
Public bodies need to post a schedule, the dates, the times and the places for regular meetings at the beginning of each fiscal year. If a change is to be made in these regularly scheduled meetings, then the public body is required to provide a 10 day notice. In preparation for any public meeting, the public body must post the agenda, with the date, time and place, in the building and office of the public body 48 hours in advance. If there is a website and sufficient staff to change the website, the agenda must be put on it as well.
The only exception to the 48 hour rule is in the event of an emergency where a meeting needs to be called, but all practical efforts must be made to provide notice to the public as early as possible, including providing notice specifically to any news agencies who have requested notice of special meetings. If a meeting is reconvened within 24 hours of the initial meeting, an announcement about the reconvening was made at the first meeting, and there is no change in the agenda, the public body does not have to abide by the 48 hour rule.
As long as these rules are followed and the news media claims they were not informed, the meeting cannot be invalidated.
Public body meetings that are open to the public may conduct business and take action. For a five member public body, three members of the body will adopt any motion, resolution, or ordinance, unless a greater number is otherwise required. The act requires that a quorum of members of any non-state agency with a jurisdiction of less than 4,500 miles be present at the site of the meeting. It allows agencies that don't fit this description to hold meetings through various telecommunication methods but requires that the public be given access to those meetings as well.
All meetings must be recorded with either audio, visual or still technology. Minutes should be kept for at least 18 months following the meeting.
Any individual in attendance of the meeting may record it for his own personal record. However, the state boards may prohibit recording if individuals who are needed to provide testimony refuse to do so if the meeting is recorded.
|Common executive session exemptions|
|Personal privacy (including employees)|
|Purchase or sale of property|
|Exempt under other laws|
No final action may be taken during an executive sessions. A public body can hold closed executive session with a majority of vote for the following reasons:
- The appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee of the public body or against legal counsel for the public body to determine its validity.
- Negotiating matters such as salary, the buying or selling of public land, the buying or selling of security or investment contracts, anything related to individual students that would harm if publicly disclosed, selection of a person to fill a vacancy in a public office when the body has that power, sensitive evidence from a pending case, matters related to the Prisoner Review Board, informant sources, deliberations of the State Emergency Medical Services Disciplinary Review Board, complaints of discrimination, discussing electricity or natural gas contracts, and security procedures.
- Sensitive material related to pending litigation
- The establishment of reserves or settlement of claims if it would prejudiced if publicly disclosed.
- Professional ethics or performance when considered by an advisory body appointed to advise a licensing or regulatory agency on matters germane to the advisory body's field of competence.
- Self evaluation when a statewide entity is present.
- The recruitment, credentialing, discipline or formal peer review of physicians or other health care professionals for a hospital, or other institution providing medical care, that is operated by the public body.
- Discussion of confidential matters, of meeting minutes for approval by the body or semi‑annual review, and of applications received under the Experimental Organ Transplantation Procedures Act.
- Meetings where a team would be determining assault or wrongful death at a residential health care facility.
Periodically, a public body must convene and determine if the material and minutes of executive sessions still required confidentiality. If not, the public body is obligated to open those records to the public.
Anyone may bring a civil action against a violator within 60 days of the meeting or within 60 days of the discovery of an illegal meeting. If the court discovers a violation of the law it can issue injunctions preventing future violations of the law, order the release of minutes that were closed or void an action taken in closed meetings. The court may also assess attorney fees in the instance of a violation or if it determines that the lawsuit was frivilous.
Individuals may also request that the office of the attorney general review the case by filing a complaint with the Public Access Counselor within 60 days of discovering the violation. The counselor must notify the body in question, which has 7 days to respond to the accusation. The counselor will then submit the file to the attorney general who will issue a binding opinion on the matter.
Violations of this act are considered class C misdemeanors.
State of Illinois
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Treasurer | Comptroller | Auditor General | Superintendent of Education | Director of Insurance | Director of Agriculture | Director of Natural Resources | Director of Labor | Chairman of Commerce Commission |