[authors: Brian Crowley and Maria Mazza]
On July 19, 2012, Governor Quinn signed into law Public Act 97-0827, which is an amendment to the Open Meetings Act. The amendment requires public bodies to provide additional details in their meeting agendas regarding resolutions and ordinances and requires the continuous posting of meeting notices and agendas during the 48 hours preceding meetings.
Specifically, the law adds a provision requiring that a public body post an agenda that sets forth the general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that will be the subject of final action at the meeting. The amendment also requires that the public body post its meeting notice and agenda continuously during the 48 hour period before the meeting. A public body can satisfy the continuous posting requirement by posting the notice and the agenda on its website for 48 hours. Public bodies without a website will need to post the agenda at its principal office and at the location of the meeting in an area that is available to the public continuously for 48 hours.
The law limits its agenda specificity requirements to resolutions and ordinances, not motions. In light of case law examining this area, we advise public bodies that in order for a board to take action on an item be it an ordinance, resolution or motion, the item should be specifically identified on the agenda. The new law appears to codify that standard for ordinances and resolutions. The law, however, does not specify what level of description is required on an agenda to enable a public body to act on an ordinance or resolution. Also left unanswered is whether actions that involve motions (which are not addressed in the Act) require specific description in agendas at all. We would suggest, however, that boards provide sufficient detail of any proposed action item on an agenda, be it a resolution or motion, so members of the public have a reasonable idea of what the board will act on at the meeting.
The law is effective January 1, 2013.