FOI Fail of the Week: Ill. bill that would hurt frequent FOIA requesters one signature away from law
By Morgan Watkins | July 6th, 2011
The Illinois legislature approved a bill that, if signed into law by the governor, would hurt the ability of frequent FOI requesters to get prompt responses from the government.
According to House Bill 1716, people who make more than seven requests in a week, 15 in 30 days or 50 per year to the same public body would be considered “recurrent requesters.” Their requests could take up to 21 days for a response under the new rules if the bill becomes law.
The bill also includes provisions for the addition of fees to commercial information requests that will take more than eight hours to complete, according to the State-Journal-Register.
The bill doesn’t apply to members of the news media.
Although journalists are safe from its implications, the bill encroaches upon the right of citizens to request information from their government as often as they want without facing additional obstacles to obtaining that data beyond those legally permitted by disclosure exemptions.
While the legislature may have passed this bill, there’s still a chance Gov. Pat Quinn could veto it and protect the citizens from its proposed restrictions. He received the measure on June 29.
– Morgan Watkins
Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email (email@example.com) or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).