Heyl Royster

 

What New Requirements May Your Public Body Have in 2014 and 2015?

Members of the Illinois General Assembly have been busy filing new bills that, if passed (and signed by the Governor), will influence your unit of government. The spectrum of topics is too broad for one article, but it is apparent the legislature is actively considering ways to further promote the common themes of "transparency" and "accountability."

For example, what does your Board or Council do when it passes an ordinance? Does it publish it? Does it file it in the official record book of your public body? What if you would be required to file everything you pass with the State of Illinois?

As you may have read in an earlier update from our firm, the Illinois House of Representatives (House Bill 4572) and Illinois Senate (Sentate Bill 2967) are currently considering similar bills that would require your body to file any new law (whether by ordinance, resolution, etc.) with the office of the State Comptroller. Your clerk would need to file these electronically, and there is no clear language in the bill if you would be required to submit only the new laws you pass, or if you would also be responsible for provide copies of local laws already in existence. What is clear is that if this bill becomes law, the first deadline to file will be on or before June 1, 2015, with quarterly updates required beginning October 15, 2015. Any entity failing to do so could face financial penalties.

While these bills would alone require many public bodies to invest in additional software/computers, it would appear that they would not remove any obligation for the public bodies to continue to house the records in their offices (under the Local Records Act) or to provide this information to anyone who should request it in a Freedom of Information Act.

On a related note, the Illinois Senate is also considering a series of bills related to the Local Records Act. In some form, Senate Bills 3291, 3292, 3293, state a unit of local government (in a county with a population of 100,000 or more) shall have a website. The website must contain such things as contact information for officials, meeting notices, FOIA-related procedures, and other notices as required by law. At least one bill also establishes the right of someone living in your city, etc., to bring a lawsuit to compel the public body to post this information.

Heyl Royster will continue to monitor this and other bills that may influence your local government. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

You can view all bills pending in the General Assembly by visiting its website at www.ilga.gov.