Posted on Jun 13, 2014 in Formal Opinions

Opinion Letter No. F14-02
June 13, 2014
Written Testimony and Minutes

A requester asked whether the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) violated the Sunshine Law by not including in its minutes the views expressed in written testimony that had been submitted to BLNR about an agenda item for its meeting on July 27, 2012.

Section 92-9(a), HRS, sets forth the Sunshine Law’s requirement for a board to keep minutes, but OIP found no express requirement that a board’s minutes should reflect views presented in written testimony.  OIP also noted that a written testimony is itself a government record providing a complete and accurate record of its contents, while minutes may be the sole record of oral testimony presented to a board.  Finally, under the “permitted interaction” provided by the Sunshine Law in section 92-2.5(d)(2), HRS, board members may hear testimony or presentations when a meeting has been cancelled but are required to create only a record of oral testimony or presentations “in the same manner as would be required by section 92-9,” HRS.

Thus, given the lack of an express statutory requirement for written testimony to be described in minutes, the accessibility of written testimony as a government record, and the instruction of section 92-2.5(d)(2) to create a written record of only “oral” testimony or presentations after a meeting is cancelled, OIP concluded that the Sunshine Law only requires that a board’s minutes describe the board’s actions and also oral testimony and oral presentations which occurred during the meeting.  Thus, OIP found that BLNR’s minutes complied with the Sunshine Law’s requirement that they reflect “the matters discussed at the meeting and the views of the participants.”

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