Posted on Jul 19, 2006 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 06-05
July 19, 2006
Amendment of Agenda; Executive Meeting Agenda

OIP opined that section 92-7(d) of the Sunshine Law did not allow amendment of the Hawaii County Council’s meeting agenda to consult with its Corporation Counsel in executive session regarding issues related to settlement of a pending case brought against the County and other parties, commonly referred to as the “Hokulia lawsuit.”

An agenda may not be amended to add an item if it is of reasonably major importance and action on the item will affect a significant number of persons. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-7(d) (Supp. 2005). Given the potentially widespread legal effect of and substantial County liability that could arise from the Hokulia lawsuit, OIP found that consideration of matters relating to the lawsuit that could realistically affect settlement of the litigation was of reasonably major importance and that action on those matters would affect a significant number of persons.

An opinion was also sought on whether the Sunshine Law allows a board to place a generic entry of “executive session” on all of its agendas without identifying the subject matter of the executive meeting. OIP opined that the Sunshine Law does not allow the use of generic “executive session” entries on an agenda to allow a board to consider an undisclosed matter in an executive meeting. Such entries would not provide the public with the statute’s expressly required public notice of the agenda item to be considered and the purpose for which the executive meeting is being held.

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