BGA Gears Up For Another Battle To Protect FOIA

Despite opposition from the BGA and other government transparency advocates, a legislative committee approved a measure late last month that would weaken the Illinois Freedom of Information Act or FOIA.

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The legislation, HB 3621, would block public access to information about the incentives offered and the rental fees collected by public facilities for concerts, conventions, athletic contests, trade shows and other events. 

Rep. Bob Rita sponsored the bill because he believes public facilities are at a competitive disadvantage to privately owned venues that are not bound by the FOIA to share such information. The BGA counters that the bill violates the public's constitutional right to know how public dollars are spent and prevents public scrutiny about government's management of public arenas.

The bill passed the Business & Occupational Licenses Committee of the Illinois House by a 7-3 vote on March 25th and will likely move to the house floor later this month. The bill would have to pass the Illinois Senate and get signed by the governor before it would become law.

The BGA, as it did when another bad FOIA bill surfaced last fall, will join forces with other government watchdogs and the media to raise public awareness in an effort to beat back this latest assault on FOIA.