Attorney General Pre-Authorization No Longer Required Under Illinois FOIA Law for Personal Information and Predecisional Materials


Governor Quinn recently signed into law amendments to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) addressing “recurrent requesters,” commercial requests, and the requirement that public bodies seek Attorney General pre-authorization before relying on certain exemptions. Although the recurrent requester requirement has received the most attention in the news media, changes regarding pre-authorization and appeal rights for commercial requesters are likely to have the greater impact on public bodies, including public schools.

Public Act 097-0579, effective August 26, 2011, made the following changes to the Illinois FOIA:

Provides additional time for responses to requests from “recurrent requesters,” which are defined as requesters who have submitted to the same public body (i) a minimum of 50 requests for records, (ii) a minimum of 15 requests for records within a 30-day period, or (iii) a minimum of 7 requests for records within a 7-day period. Although a public body must provide an initial response to the requester within the normal 5-day period for general FOIA requests (or within a 10-day period if an extension is taken), the public body has 21 days to respond to the request. Moreover, in its response after 21 days, the public body has four options, none of which require producing records on the day of the response...

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