The State Office of Information Practices (OIP) greatly appreciates the Legislature’s confidence in our office and its generous support for the establishment of two new positions at OIP: a sixth staff attorney and one legal assistant. Pending legislative passage tomorrow and Governor Green’s approval of the budget bill, HB 300, HD 1, SD 1, CD 1, OIP expects to post job openings for these new positions on or about July 1, 2023 when the bill takes effect. Among other qualifications, OIP will be seeking applicants with excellent writing skills and the ability to impartially and objectively administer Hawaii’s open records and open meetings laws.
OIP is also pleased to announce that the following two Sunshine Law amendments have been enacted, or are pending final passage and the Governor’s approval:
SB 1513, enacted as Act 19, SLH 2023: Relating to Public Agency Meetings. Effective July 1, 2023, this amendment to the Sunshine Law requires boards to report a summary of their discussions and final actions taken during an executive session, after they reconvene to the public portion of the meeting. OIP supported this amendment, which some boards already engage in, because it promotes easier public access and timely understanding of what occurred during an executive meeting closed to the public, without undermining boards’ ability to use executive sessions or maintain confidentiality when authorized to do so. Rather than having to make a request for a redacted copy of the executive session minutes to learn the gist of what happened in private, the public will be informed as soon as the board reconvenes in the public portion of a Sunshine Law meeting.
HB 712, HD 1, SD 1, Relating to Recordings of Public Meetings. Boards are currently required to electronically record remote meetings “when practicable” and keep the recording available until the meeting minutes have been posted on the board’s website. This bill, proposed by the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, is not a significant change from existing law and is not likely to present a burden to boards. Effective October 1, 2023, this bill encourages, but does not require, boards to keep electronic recordings posted online after minutes are posted, regardless of whether written meeting minutes are posted. A board that is running low on storage space to host recordings of its remote meetings can remove the older recordings as necessary, so long as it first provides a copy to the State Archives.
Among the bills that did not pass this year, but will carry over to the 2024 session is HB 719, HD 1, SD 2, Relating to Public Records. As originally proposed, this bill would have established a cap on fees permitted to be assessed under the UIPA as well as a new public interest fee waiver applicable only to non-commercial entities. The Senate proposed a new public interest fee waiver standard that would also apply to commercial entities, and it added a new deliberative process exception that it subsequently proposed to delete. The proposed CD 1 would have required OIP to undergo formal rulemaking—a process that could take a year or longer—to implement the new fee caps and public interest fee waiver, but the statutory revisions would have sunsetted in three years in 2026. The bill did not make it out of conference, but as stated earlier, will carry over to next session.
For impartial and objective open government news, check OIP’s website at oip.hawaii.gov, sign up for OIP’s What’s New emailed articles at [email protected], or call (808) 586-1400 to speak to the Attorney of the Day.