Posted on Apr 28, 2006 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 06-02
April 28, 2006
Finance Investigative Task Force

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority’s (“NELHA”) Board of Directors formed a Finance Investigative Committee to investigate, as a permitted interaction, the charges to be used in negotiating the land rental rates with NELHA’s tenants. A requester sought OIP’s opinion on whether the Sunshine Law permitted the Committee to consider other financial matters beyond the scope of the investigation that it was created to perform outside of an open meeting. OIP determined that after the Committee reported back to the Board on the matter it was originally authorized to investigate it ceased to be an investigative task force under section 92-2.5(b)(1). The continued meetings by its members after that point were not permitted by section 92-2.5(b)(1) and, in the absence of any applicable permitted interaction or exception, should have been open to the public in the manner set forth by the Sunshine Law.

OIP noted that given the length of time that the Committee has been meeting without following the requirements of the Sunshine Law, it appears impossible for the Board to entirely “cure” the past violations. However, OIP determined that the Board should, at a minimum, make the minutes of and any other records relating to those closed meetings of the Committee publicly available.

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