Open Meetings Act 2007 ILA Conference
The Open Meetings Act is intended to allow for open discussions and open action by governmental
bodies (except Illinois General Assembly).
The Act covers the regular meeting as well as any committees, advisory groups, and subgroups.
Open Meetings Act
Definition: A gathering of a majority of a quorum to discussing business of the organization.
Gathering: Defined as in-person, via telephone, through email or other electronic (video or audio)
Email is only a violation if there are responses as this “deprives the public of their rights”
Email may be used to distribute information
Email is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Email is a public record in Illinois
Private email IS NOT subject to the Open Meetings Act
Majority of a Quorum: This comes into play when members of a governmental entity are
together outside of a publicly announced and held meeting and the number of members
is more than the majority of the quorum.
For example: The DLS Board numbers 11.
The quorum for the board is 6 (½ of 11 + 1).
The majority of the quorum is 4 (½ of 6 + 1).
Discussing Public Business: This means anything talked about that is germane to the public body.
Requirements of the Act – Open Sessions
Give notice of the meeting
o Post all regularly scheduled meetings of the body at the beginning of the year.
Post near the location of the meeting. (Includes other locations that are used)
Post in the principle place of business.
o Post the notice of the meeting and an agenda at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting at
both locations (see above).
Agenda must include everything to be discussed and any items that will require action.
o Public bodies CANNOT take action on anything not on the agenda.
o Public bodies CANNOT revise the agenda to take action at any time within the 48 hours.
o Public bodies can revise the agenda within 48 hours to DISCUSS only.
RE: posting on the website.
o According to the law, if a full-time webmaster is on staff, organization must post agendas
and minutes on website.
o However, if you don’t, it isn’t a violation.
Denise Zielinski 1 October 15, 2007; rev. 2/5/2008; updated 11/23/09
For emergency meetings, post the meeting information (including notice and agenda) as soon
after holding the meeting as possible.
o Notify anyone filing an “request to notify” with the body must be notified BEFORE the
o Emergency meetings are those defined as needing immediate action, for example, natural
Meetings must be open and convenient to the public.
o Location for the meeting must accommodate the audience otherwise the meeting cannot be
o An alternate location on the same site may be used if signage directing people to the new
location is posted.
o During an open meeting, none of the doors into the building or the room can be closed or
locked. The meeting room door may be closed in those instances where sound necessitates
it, but a sign inviting people inside must be put on the door.
At the meeting, minutes should be taken.
o Minutes should include the following items:
Date, time, and location of the meeting.
Members who are present an absent.
A summary of the discussion and a listing of all actions taken.
Minutes must be posted within 7 days from the date they are approved.
Tape recordings of open session meetings can only be erased 30 days after the
approval of the minutes because they are part of the public record.
Anyone can tape a meeting. Boards may request that anyone taping the meeting
must share a copy of said tape with the public body.
Requirements of the Act – Closed Sessions
Closed meetings must be listed on the agenda with the correct statute.
Public bodies can go into a closed session at any time.
Public bodies can only go to closed session after initiating an open session where the meeting
has been called to order first.
A majority of a quorum present is necessary to go into closed session.
A motion must be made and the act cited.
A roll call vote is needed and each person’s vote should be recorded in the minutes. A public
body can do an “all in favor” vote, but it must be listed in the minutes with each person’s vote.
A verbatim recording and minutes must be kept for 18 months. If the recording is used in a court
proceeding by a judge, the tape can be made public.
The recording can be destroyed after 18 months, but only by motion in open session.
Closed session minutes must be reviewed every 6 months.
o Review can be done in closed session, but doesn’t have to be done there.
o Closed session minutes can be voted on in closed session. This is the only vote that can be
taken in closed session.
o If vote on whether to open or keep closed closed-session minutes in closed session, it is not
required that the vote be repeated in open session, but can be as a courtesy.
Public bodies CANNOT discuss any topic not specifically included under the act cited at the
beginning of the meeting.
o Final action can NEVER be taken in closed session. Public bodies can take a consensus vote.
Denise Zielinski 2 October 15, 2007; rev. 2/5/2008; updated 11/23/09
To exit closed session, there is no special vote. A consensus of the body is all that is needed.
o The public must be let back in to the meeting when the body returns to open session.
o Public body must give a recital of what was discussed—and it must be specific.
Public bodies cannot sanction board members who discuss closed session information outside of
the closed session. It is an “honor thing.”
Exemptions to the Act
Employment issues – must be about a specific employee
Legal matters including litigation—pending, probable, or eminent
Investments – must be specific
Property purchase, lease, or sale
Security and criminal matters
Self-evaluation when meeting with a state library association representative; public body must
be a member of the association
Boards CANNOT go into closed session to discuss hiring contractors.
Physical Quorum: A quorum must be physically present in the room to be considered a quorum of
Electronic participation can be allowed under certain circumstances.
Secretary must be given advance notice of intent to use electronic
Closed sessions do not require a quorum.
Violations of the Act: Violating the Open Meetings Act is a Class C misdemeanor and is
punishable by a $1500 fine per board member per meeting.
From notes based on presentations by Terry Mutchler, Public Access Counselor, Illinois State’s Attorney’s office on October 15,
2007 and February 4, 2008.
From: Open Meetings Act 5 ILCS 120/1.05
Sec. 1.05. Training. Every public body shall designate employees, officers, or members to receive
training on compliance with this Act. Each public body shall submit a list of designated employees,
officers, or members to the Public Access Counselor. Within 6 months after the effective date of this
amendatory Act of the 96th General Assembly, the designated employees, officers, and members must
successfully complete an electronic training curriculum, developed and administered by the Public
Access Counselor, and thereafter must successfully complete an annual training program. Thereafter,
whenever a public body designates an additional employee, officer, or member to receive this training,
that person must successfully complete the electronic training curriculum within 30 days after that
designation. (Source: P.A. 96‑542, eff. 1‑1‑10.)
Denise Zielinski 3 October 15, 2007; rev. 2/5/2008; updated 11/23/09