Posted on Mar 31, 2005 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 05-07
March 31, 2005
Public Testimony When Non-Sunshine Law Requirements Apply

The Department of the Corporation Counsel, City and County of Honolulu, asked the OIP for an opinion on several issues regarding the public’s right to testify at a meeting subject to the Sunshine Law, part I of chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”).

The OIP concluded that boards other than the Land Use Commission are not subject to the Sunshine Law during the exercise of their adjudicatory functions. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-6 (1993). Thus, boards conducting contested case hearings or other adjudicatory processes need not follow the Sunshine Law’s public testimony requirements while doing so. There is no Sunshine Law exception for boards holding public hearings on proposed rules under section 91-3, HRS, however. Boards must take care to follow the Sunshine Law’s requirements as well as the requirements of 91-3 during the rulemaking process.

Finally, if a board finds that it has failed to give adequate notice of an item as required by another law or ordinance, even though the notice was adequate under the Sunshine Law, the board can avoid violating the notice requirements of the other law by canceling the meeting or canceling the individual agenda item without discussion.

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