Heyl Royster

House Bill Would Expand FOIA’s Reach

March 7, 2014

House Bill 5875 would amend the definition of "public body" under the Freedom of Information Act. Representative Sam Yingling (D, Hainsville) filed the bill that would broaden the definition of public body to include "any state-wide organization which receives 75% or more of its funding through contributions from taxing bodies for the sake of membership or dues in order to participate in the organization's activities, including, but not limited to, educational endeavors, legislative initiatives, or a general liability insurance pool."

This bill would make organizations such as the Township Officials of Illinois, Municipal Clerks of Illinois, Illinois Municipal Treasurer's Association and the Illinois Municipal League subject to FOIA. It would also include economic development corporations and tourism organizations that receive 75% or more of their funding from public bodies.

Insurance pools that provide coverage to Illinois public bodies would also be subject to FOIA. However, since the proposed bill does not alter the language in FOIA (5 ILCS 140/7(s)) that exempts disclosure of information from an insurance pool related to claims, risk management, records, data, advice or communication, it is not clear how these two sections would be reconciled.

This is not the first attempt by the current General Assembly to broaden the definition of "public body" within FOIA. Rep. Yingling previously introduced HB 943 in January of 2013. HB 943 would have expanded the definition of public body to apply to "any association of units of local government or any not-for-profit corporation with membership consisting of units of local government." HB 943, however, failed to move out of committee by the May 10, 2013 deadline. HB 5875 appears to be a more refined version of HB 943.

HB 5875 has been assigned to the State Government Administration Committee and is tentatively scheduled for hearing on March 20, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.

We will continue to closely monitor this bill and report any new developments.

Click here to view the bill status/full text of bill.

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