House Finance Committee Passes Out OIP’s Sunshine Bill

Posted on Mar 30, 2012 in What's New

March 30, 2012

The state Office of Information Practices (OIP) is pleased to announce that the House Finance Committee unanimously voted last night to pass out OIP’s Sunshine Bill, S.B. 2859, S.D. 1, with a House Draft 2. The Committee amended the bill to delete section (f) beginning on page 4, which would have created a new permitted interaction with various safeguards to regulate board members’ communications through social media. Assuming the bill is passed by the entire House, it will head into conference with the Senate.

If the social media provision is not reinserted during the conference proceedings, then board members should continue to be cautious about using social media to communicate with each other regarding board business. As with any other form of communication, more than two board members cannot discuss board business through “tweets” or “postings” outside of a properly noticed meeting under the Sunshine Law. Depending on the specific situation, even board members’ status as Facebook “friends” could be considered unlawful participation in a serial discussion if the members were writing posts about board business and those posts automatically showed up in the other members’ news feeds as posts by friends or tweets from an account the members were “following.” Assuming no other board member involvement, however, the Sunshine Law, as currently written, would still permit social media discussions among board members that do not relate to board business as well as discussions of board business between a board member and the member’s constituents or the general public.

Tonight, the House Finance Committee will hear S.B. 2858, S.D. 1, H.D. 1, which would create a uniform process under the UIPA and the Sunshine Law to clarify an agency’s right to judicially appeal an OIP decision. For updates on these and other open government legislation, look here on the What’s New page, or ask to be placed on OIP’s e-mail list for weekly What’s New updates.