Public Access Opinion 14-009

Open Meetings Act: “public comment”

Open Meetings Act - OMA
Case: Public Access Opinion 14-009
Date: Thursday, September 4, 2014

“Anyone” means just that: anyone – without regard to where they reside.

A rule that requires someone to state his or her address before speaking to a public body violates the Open Meetings Act (OMA). OMA states, “[a]ny person shall be permitted an opportunity to address the public officials under the rules established and recorded by the public body[.]”

Here, public officials asked a woman trying to address them to state her home address before beginning her comments. She did not particularly wish to do so, but eventually did. Then, she filed a request for review with the Ill. Public Access Counselor.

This opinion states that any rule, whether in policy or by custom or practice, that requires a person to provide an address before addressing a public body, is not a rule that “ensures that order and decorum are maintained at public meetings,” which violates the OMA.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.