POSTING ELECTRONIC MEETING NOTICES
With limited exceptions, the Sunshine Law requires notice of meetings of State boards to be electronically posted on the State Calendar at least six calendar days before the meeting (and those of county boards to be electronically posted on the county’s calendar). That is why a board cannot automatically post or amend a meeting notice on the State Calendar for a meeting date that is less than six days away.
There are two situations in which a board subject to the Sunshine Law can properly post or amend a meeting notice within that time period:
- if the meeting qualifies as an emergency meeting and the board has met all the Sunshine Law’s requirements for holding an emergency meeting, and
- if the notice is actually for the continuation of a previously noticed meeting that was not completed in the allotted time, and the board is providing reasonable notice that it will continue the agenda from that earlier meeting at the noticed place and time.
To post a short-notice emergency or continued meeting on the State Calendar when legally authorized to do so, a board must first contact the contractor administering the calendar: NIC Hawaii (NIC) at [email protected] from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays (excluding state holidays). Within one business day, NIC will then email the requester with information on how to post the meeting with less than six days’ notice. Please do not contact OIP for technical assistance with the State Calendar.
Here is OIP’s legal guidance on the Sunshine Law’s requirements to hold a short-notice emergency or continued meeting.
Emergency Meetings: An emergency meeting must meet the criteria set out in section 92-8, Hawaii Revised Statutes. First, the reason for holding the meeting must be that the board needs to act in less than six days to address an “imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare” or an “unanticipated event” requiring board action. The board must obtain the agreement of two-thirds of members to which board is entitled (including authorized but vacant positions) that an emergency meeting is needed. (OIP interprets the statute as allowing a board to obtain members’ agreement on the limited question of whether an emergency meeting is needed via a phone poll of members or similar means, as otherwise the emergency meeting statute provisions would be largely unusable.) If the meeting is for an unanticipated event, the Attorney General must also concur that the meeting is needed (even for county boards). Finally, when posting its notice and emergency agenda, the board must also include its written findings justifying the emergency meeting. For the statutory standards for noticing an emergency meeting, please refer to sections 92-7 and -8, HRS (notice and emergency meeting requirements).
Continued Meetings: Section 92-7(d), HRS, requires items of reasonably major importance not decided at a scheduled meeting to “be considered only at a meeting continued to a reasonable day and time.” Although the Sunshine Law contains no specific requirements for a written public notice or oral announcement for continued meetings, and a continuation of an ongoing meeting is not subject to the same notice requirement as the notice of a new meeting, the way a board notifies the public of a continued meeting must still ensure that meetings are conducted as openly as possible and in a manner that protects the people’s right to know. OIP offers specific practice tips for how to reasonably give public notice of the continuation of an ongoing meeting to finish the agenda in its Quick Review: Continuance of a Meeting Under the Sunshine Law (January 2014), which includes posting a Notice of Continuance of Meeting with the original meeting agenda attached to it, and we recommend boards read and follow those tips when posting a continued meeting on the calendar. The Notice of Continuance of Meeting is available on OIP’s Sunshine Law forms page. For further detail on the legal standards for continuing a Sunshine Law meeting, please refer to OIP’s Summary of and the Hawaii Supreme Court’s opinion in Kanahele v. Maui County Council, 130 Haw. 228, 307 P.3d 1174 (2013) (discussing meeting continuances).
Amendments to a Previously-Filed Meeting Notice: OIP reminds all boards that the Sunshine Law prohibits amendments to agendas with less than six calendar days’ notice for meetings that are not emergencies or continuances of a duly noticed meeting. An agenda for a regular, special or anticipated executive meeting must be posted at least six calendar days in advance. To amend an agenda, the board must follow the requirements of section 927(d), HRS, which do not allow amendment by posting an addendum, nor do they allow the addition of items of reasonably major importance when the board’s action thereon will affect a significant number of persons. OIP’s latest formal opinion on agenda amendments, OIP Opinion No. F20-3, is posted on the opinions page at oip.hawaii.gov.
While technical questions to post notices to the State Calendar should be directed to NIC through the calendar’s chat box or at [email protected] or by calling (808) 695-4620, substantive questions for OIP’s Attorney of the Day regarding the Sunshine Law or Uniform Information Practices Act can be emailed to [email protected].