A number of bills relating to the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) and Sunshine Law have survived to cross over to the non-originating house, and four of them are highlighted in this article. The first is H.B. 2139, H.D. 1, which is a county proposal to add a new permitted interaction to the Sunshine Law allowing any number of council members to jointly attend any meeting or presentation open to the public. The original bill was amended by the House Judiciary Committee, with the presumably unintended consequence of removing the existing permitted interaction found in HRS Section 92-2.5(e) that allows less than a quorum of members of any Sunshine Law board to attend seminars, conventions, or other events even when held out-of state or with an admission fee; boards in general would no longer be able to send more than two members to out-of-state or paid seminars or conferences, while their attendance at free, in-state events would still be limited to less than a quorum. At the same time, the H.D. 1 would allow an unlimited number of council members to attend such events so long as they are in-state and free to the public.
The House draft that is crossing over to the Senate would essentially eliminate a useful form of permitted interaction applicable to boards in general, which has allowed boards with a need for continuing education related to their work to ensure that their membership has current knowledge. At the same time, the House draft still leaves a large Sunshine Law loophole for county councils. As an example of a potential loophole, the language of the House draft could conceivably result in all council members being invited to a “free” informational meeting or presentation organized by proponents of a particular project where the council members could discuss the project, without prior notice to the public or the requirement to keep minutes of the event. Yet, more than two non-council board members would be prevented under the House draft form attending professional development seminars or conventions on the mainland.
The companion bill, S.B. 2962, S.D. 1, did not cross over to the House from the Senate, but had been amended to contain most of the language developed by OIP at the request of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs (“PSM”), as explained in OIP’s February 12 What’s New article.
A second bill crossing over from the House to the Senate, H.B. 1812, H.D. 1, would conform the law to be consistent with the Hawaii Supreme Court’s and OIP’s treatment of suspended police officers’ misconduct information, so as to require disclosure of suspensions and discharges. The bill also requires the retention of disciplinary records for at least eighteen months after the police department’s annual report of misconduct incidents.
A third set of companion bills crossing over are H.B. 2235 and S.B. 2249, S.D. 1, which would conform the notice requirements for a Sunshine Law board’s consideration of administrative rules to the existing notice requirements for rulemaking under Chapter 91, HRS. This amendment would ensure that the requirements for giving public notice of administrative rules are the same whether the rulemaking agency is a Sunshine Law board or some other form of agency.
Finally, a fourth bill that is crossing over to the House is S.B. 2881, S.D. 1, which repeals the sunset provision for the HRS Section 92F-11(b) exception from responding to duplicative requests made within a year of the first request by the same person, if the agency responded properly the first time and nothing has happened to change the response.
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