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Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 11:43 pm

USER FRIENDLY

Ever wonder how much of local and state government’s inner workings are open for public review?

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan plans to give you the skinny through a series of free seminars held around the state beginning this week. Her office will explain the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act and their recent changes, which go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

The new-and-improved laws allow the attorney general’s public access coordinator (PAC) to review and determine if documents should be disclosed under FOIA or if a government body has violated the Open Meetings Act. If needed, the PAC can issue subpoenas to help the public gain access to public records and government meetings. The laws will also make it easier for citizens to submit FOIA requests and stiffen the fines for government bodies that refuse to comply with those requests, among other provisions.

The attorney general’s office will host its Springfield seminar on Dec. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m., at the Illinois Education Association, 3440 Liberty Dr. Call 321-2305 for more information.

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