On July 22, 2016, the Governor signed HB4379, establishing the Local Government Travel Expense Control Act, which requires school districts, community colleges, and non-home rule units of local government to place certain regulations on the travel, meal, and lodging expenses of its officers, employees, and board members. While the Act itself will become effective on January 1, 2017, certain provisions of the Act do not become effective until later.
First, as of January 1, 2017, the effective date, local public agencies are prohibited from reimbursing any governing board member, employee, or officer for any entertainment expense, which includes shows, amusements, theaters, circuses, sporting events, or any other place of public or private entertainment or amusement, unless ancillary to the purpose of the program or event.
Next, as of 60 days after the effective date, or March 2, 2017, the Act requires boards to approve the following expenses for travel, meals, and lodging by roll call vote at an open meeting: (1) expenses incurred by any officer or employee that exceeds the maximum allowed under the regulations adopted by the public agency (as further explained below); and (2) expenses incurred by any member of the governing board or corporate authorities of the local public agency. In addition, prior to the approval of such expenses, the following minimum documentation must be submitted: (1) an estimate of the cost of travel, meals, or lodging if expenses have not been incurred or a receipt of the cost of the travel, meals, or lodging if the expenses have already been incurred; (2) the name of the individual who is requesting or received the travel, meal, or lodging expense; (3) the job title or office of the individual who is requesting or received the travel, meal, or lodging expense; and (4) the date or dates and nature of the official business in which the travel, meal, or lodging expense will be or was expended. According to the Act, all such documents and information are public records subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
Finally, local public agencies must pass a resolution or ordinance that regulates the reimbursement of all travel, meal, and lodging expenses of officers and employees. If, as of 180 days after the effective date of the Act (or June 30, 2017), such resolution or ordinance has not been adopted, no travel, meal, or lodging expense may be approved or paid by a local public agency. The resolution or ordinance must regulate, at a minimum: (1) the types of official business for which travel, meal, and lodging expenses are allowed; and (2) the maximum allowable reimbursement for travel, meal, and lodging expenses. It also must provide a standardized form for submission of travel, meal, and lodging expenses. While the resolution or ordinance may allow for approval of expenses that exceed the maximum allowable travel, meal, or lodging expenses, it may only so do in the event of an emergency or other extraordinary circumstances.
Please note that IASB’s PRESS Policy Service plans to issue policy updates to address the Act in its September/October issue. To review the full text of the bill, click HERE.