Posted on Jan 19, 2005 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 05-02
January 19, 2005
Speaking at Public Meetings on Matters Outside the Agenda

The County Clerk for the County of Hawaii asked OIP for an opinion on the Hawaii County Council’s practice of permitting members of the public to make statements at the end of each meeting regarding matters outside of the agenda. A member of the public subsequently asked OIP for an opinion regarding whether members of the public who testify at a public meeting may be restricted to speaking only about matters that are on the meeting agenda.

OIP found that a board may permit members of the public to speak at a meeting on matters that are not on the agenda, but is not required to do so. The board members themselves, however, may not discuss, deliberate, or decide matters that are not on the agenda.

Thus, if a board elects to hear public statements regarding matters not on the agenda and the statements relate to “board business,” i.e., matters over which the board has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power, the board members must be careful not to respond or discuss the matter.

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