New law enforces public disclosure of severance agreements

All severance agreements involving government employees will now be subject to public scrutiny and investigation after Gov. Rauner signed House Bill 303 into law on Sept. 10. 

Strengthening current law, House Bill 303 closes a loophole that has allowed parties to keep certain severance settlements confidential. It provides that all settlement agreements will be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and public review.

House Bill 303 was in part a response to a lucrative severance package that was awarded to the College of DuPage President Robert Breuder earlier this year. A closed meeting held by college trustees resulted in a $763,000 settlement for Breuder with little to no public review.

 A severance agreement is defined as “a mutual agreement between any public body and its employee for the employee’s resignation in exchange for payment by the public body.”

 Supported by the Better Government Association and Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois, House Bill 303 applies to all public bodies, which include legislative, executive, administrative or advisory bodies of the state. It also applies to public universities, colleges, townships, cities and municipal units of government.

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