Illinois General Assembly Considers FOIA Bills

Illinois General Assembly Considers FOIA Bills

January 11, 2024

Two new bills were introduced in the Illinois General Assembly in January 2024 which seek to modify FOIA.

House Bill 4401

House Bill 4401: This bill proposes amending the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Local Records Act (LRA) to specifically define “junk mail” and clarify that it should not be considered part of “public records.” This change aims to refine what constitutes a public record, excluding junk mail from necessary disclosures.

“Junk Mail” is defined in the bill as follows:

(j) “Junk mail” means (i) any unsolicited commercial mail 7 sent to a public body and not responded to by an official, 8 employee, or agent of the public body or (ii) any unsolicited 9 commercial electronic communication sent to a public body and 10 not responded to by an official, employee, or agent of the 11 public body.

House Bill 4325

House Bill 4325: Proposed as an amendment to FOIA, this bill includes several changes: updating the definition of “commercial purpose” to cover information use for organizational solicitation, requiring advance payment for specific requests, altering response approaches for recurrent requesters, and expanding FOIA exemptions to include certain non-business communications on personal devices.

As it relates to “Recurrent Requesters” the proposed bill would add the following language:

Notwithstanding any provision of this Act to the 17 contrary, a public body shall, within 5 business days of 18 receipt of a request that causes a person to become a recurrent 19 requester, notify the recurrent requester that the public body 20 will not respond to either the request or, for a period of 90 21 days after receipt of the request, any other request from the 22 requester. The response shall include the date on which the 23 requester may again start submitting a request for information 24 under the Act

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