FOIA reform signed

A souped-up Illinois Freedom of Information Act was one of several reform bills signed into law Monday by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Calling the Chicago ceremony a “great day for Illinois,” Quinn signed the new FOIA bill into law, as well as transparency bills championed by several McHenry County legis­lators. The new FOIA, which takes ef­fect Jan. 1, significantly improves an open-records law that critics call one of the nation’s weakest.

“Today, Illinois comes out of the Stone Age and into the modern era of transparency and openness,” said Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who spearheaded the FOIA rewrite.

Quinn also signed a bill drafted by state Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, that creates a searchable Internet database of all employee salaries and state contracts. Another bill, co-sponsored by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, does the same for boards and commissions appointed by the governor, and imposes stricter appointment requirements.

Quinn called the bills part of a “year of reform” aimed at curtailing corruption in the wake of former Gov. Rod Bla­gojevich’s arrest and impeachment.

“The people of Illinois deserve an open, ethical and transparent government,” Quinn said.

The new FOIA shortens the time that governments have to respond to records requests. It also empowers the attorney general’s public access counselor with binding authority to enforce the act, and for the first time imposes civil penalties for governments that willfully violate it.

While the new version contains many of the exemptions of the current version, it requires governments to get approval from the public access counselor before citing exemptions for personal privacy and preliminary drafts of reports. Transparency advocates have claimed that those two provisions are among the most frequently abused.

Quinn made no changes to the FOIA bill, despite pressure from groups such as the Illinois Municipal League and the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, which urged him to veto many of its reforms.

Groups such as the Better Government and the Illinois Press Association, of which the Northwest Herald is a member, likewise urged Quinn to sign the bill as is. It sailed through the General Assembly in May with only one opposing vote.

Tryon said the new Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal would help reduce corruption and patronage in state contracts and hiring.

“This is, I think, Illinois setting the example for the rest of the country on how to be transparent,” Tryon said.

The new portal can be found at The new database of state boards and commissions can be found at

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access and all Shaw Media Illinois content from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.