Legislature sets new fees for access to government records

Updated 12/4/2014 11:17 AM

The state law that allows people access to government records was further restricted Wednesday over the objections of Gov. Pat Quinn.

The Illinois Senate voted 39-13 to override Quinn's veto of legislation that would let government officials charge more money for big records requests. The Illinois House had already done the same, so the plan now becomes law.

Transparency advocates have been critical of the idea because it introduces what they call a steep fee scale for electronic copies of documents that only exist in print.

Government officials can charge extra fees if a taxpayer's request is considered "voluminous."

State Sen. Pam Althoff, a McHenry Republican, said the move will help governments be more efficient and is aimed at people who request information in a harassing way, not people who genuinely want information. Media and academic organizations are exempted.

She said it shouldn't be considered a way to lower government transparency.

"I think the intent is to try to make governments work with people to be transparent," Althoff said.

Quinn vetoed the plan earlier this year and Attorney General Lisa Madigan urged lawmakers not to override him.

"The bill as proposed would make it more difficult for citizens to obtain a large volume of records," Quinn wrote when vetoing the plan. "It would also slow down the process for individuals who lack electronic means to request or obtain information. Such burdens on the public penalize anyone seeking to learn more about their government."

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