AG Madigan Says New Law Will Open Government

SPRINGFIELD, IL. - An overhaul of Illinois' open-records law that Gov. Pat Quinn signed on Monday will play a crucial role in helping to restore public trust in government, Attorney General Lisa Madigan says.

The revised state Freedom of Information Act, which takes effect Jan. 1, shortens the time frame for governmental bodies to respond to public-records requests. The existing FOIA law gives public bodies seven business days to answer, but the rewritten law will cut that to five business days. The amount of time for an extension also will be decreased from seven to five business days.

The revised law also limits the instances when governments can reject records requests. For the first time, it will allow courts to impose fines of $2,500 to $5,000 on units of government that "willfully and intentionally" violate the FOIA.

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