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Updates to the Open Meetings Act

October 1st, 2012

Two important changes to the Open Meetings Act will be effective January 1, 2013.  Public Act 97-0827 amends 5 ILCS 120/2.02 by adding new subsection (c) which deals with agenda specificity and posting requirements.

Agenda Specificity

The first change will require public bodies to “set forth the general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that will be the subject of final action at the meeting.”  5 ILCS 120/2.02(c).  This codifies the existing case law which provides that agenda items must be “germane” to the action taken for a special meeting and must provide sufficient advance notice to the public of the action to be taken at a regular meeting.  Recall that generic agenda items such as “New Business” without additional descriptors will not be deemed sufficient under the existing case law or amended Statute.  See In re Foxfield Subdivision, 396 Ill.App.3d 989 (2nd  Dist. 2009) and Rice v. Bd. of Trustees of Adams County, 326 Ill.App3d 1120 (4th Dist. 2002).

New Agenda/Notice Posting Requirements

The second amendment will require an agenda to be “continuously available” to the public for the 48 hour period prior to a meeting.  Posting the notice and agenda on a website that is maintained by the public body satisfies this requirement.  However, failure to have the notice continuously available for 48 hours due to action outside the control of the public body will not invalidate any meeting or action taken at the meeting.  5 ILCS 120/2.02(c).

At present, there is no requirement that a notice and agenda be “continuously available” for the 48 hour period prior to the meeting.  This was the case in In re Foxfield Subdivision where the agenda was on display for 48 hours prior to the meeting but was located on an interior bulletin board at village hall only visible to the general public during business hours.  This amendment will now require a notice/agenda to be continuously available to the general public for 48 hours prior to the meeting.