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IL General Assembly Overrides FOIA Veto

From INBA FOIA/OMA Chair Bob Roberts:

The cause of transparency in government was set back Thursday when the Illinois Senate voted 48-3 to override Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto of House Bill 5154. The override was the final action needed to enact the measure into law. The Illinois House voted 77-36 on Nov. 16 to override. The measure took effect immediately.

As a result, Illinois voters and government watchdogs will no longer have access to key records that can tell if a state employee is doing the job or if supervisors are unfairly singling out specific employees or applying pressure on them to perform work that is prohibited by law.


The personnel records were specifically singled out as important records, meant to be open to the public, in the historic revisions of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act that took effect 11 months ago. The Illinois attorney general's office said there was no flood of requests to state agencies to obtain such records. Public Access Counselor Cara Smith was careful to distinguish between the personnel performance information contained in the records and “personal” information, such as social security numbers, which were never made public.

“All we wanted is for the law to have a chance to work,” said Bob Roberts, INBA Freedom of Information chair and a former INBA president. “It's been less than a year and already legislators have punched a big hole in attempts to achieve transparency in Illinois government.”

Roberts singled out State Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Barrington), Kyle McCarter (R-Decatur) and Matt Murphy (R-Palatine), who voted against the override.

Gov. Quinn's amendatory veto would have barred access to the records of law enforcement personnel, but would have permitted continued access to other personnel records, with the exception of teachers and principals, who were exempted through separate legislation passed in January. INBA and other open government advocates would have preferred that no vote take place, simply allowing the bill to die and leaving access to personnel records in place.

As a result, Roberts also thanked Sen. Michael Bond (D-Grayslake), Willie Delgado (D-Chicago), Gary Forby (D-Benton), Randy Hultgren (R-Wheaton), Ed Maloney (D-Chicago), Carole Pankau (R-Bloomingdale), Jeff Schoenberg (D-Wilmette) and Heather Steans (D-Chicago) for not voting.

Links to the vote record:  House and Senate


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