Posted on Jun 27, 2007 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 07-10
June 27, 2007
Right to Present Testimony

A requester sought an opinion as to whether the Maui Planning Commission violated the Sunshine Law by denying a member of the public the right to testify during the meeting. The Commission had restricted testimony from a member of the public to the subject matter the Commission had intended the agenda item to cover even though the testifier believed the proffered testimony fell within the subject matter as listed on the filed agenda.

OIP opined that the Commission had violated the Sunshine Law, although the violation was not intentional. A board can require that testimony be related to the agenda item, but it must interpret the agenda item broadly for the purpose of determining whether testimony is related to the agenda item. A board may not restrict the public from testifying on issues that fall within the general subject matter of an agenda item, and the scope of an agenda item is determined by the language used on the filed agenda, not the board’s intent as to the meaning of the agenda item.

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