Posted on Mar 14, 2008 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. 08-01
March 14, 2008
Council Member Participation at Committee Meetings
When Not Assigned to Committee

The Maui County Council requested an opinion from OIP regarding whether council members may attend and participate in a meeting of a committee of the council when they are not assigned as committee members (“Non-members”).

OIP opined that the Sunshine Law does not permit Non-members to attend a committee meeting because the resulting discussion of Council business among the various council members, consisting of both committee members and Non-members, constitutes a meeting of the Council that does not conform to the requirements of the Sunshine Law.

The Sunshine Law requires board members to discuss matters involving board business in a properly noticed meeting of their board absent an applicable exception.

When a board forms a committee, the committee and its members must independently comply with the Sunshine Law’s open meeting requirements apart from the parent board.

Where Non-members attend and participate in a committee meeting, the combined attendance of committee members and Non-members must be viewed as a discussion by them as members of the parent board—i.e. the Council—of parent board business, which may not occur outside of a properly noticed Council meeting.

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