Governor Issues Amendatory Veto Limiting Reach of FOIA Performance Evaluations Bill
On July 26, 2010, Governor Quinn issued an amendatory veto recommending that House Bill 5154 only prohibit disclosure of performance evaluations for State and local law enforcement officers under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The bill passed by the Illinois General Assembly would have amended the Personnel Record Review Act to prohibit disclosure of performance evaluations for all public employees, not just peace officers. The Governor stated in his message on the veto that such a broad exemption would be “a departure from the groundbreaking legislation that [he] approved just last year.”
If the Governor’s recommendations are implemented, performance evaluation for all public employees, including public school districts, would not be automatically exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. As we reported earlier this year in an alert, performance evaluations for teachers, principals and superintendents are exempt from disclosure under recent amendments to Article 24 of the School Code. For other employees, performance evaluations could be protected from disclosure under the “personal information” exemption to FOIA, although prior approval to use that exemption must be sought from the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor prior to denying the request on that basis.
The recommendations made in the Governor’s amendatory veto may be accepted by a record vote of the majority of each house during the November Veto Session. The General Assembly may also vote to override the veto by a vote of three-fifths of the members of each house. If the Governor’s recommendations are neither accepted nor overridden, the bill will be considered vetoed by the Governor.