Chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statutes: Public Agency Meetings and Records
This is an unofficial version of part I of chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statutes. It contains all amendments enacted through the Legislature’s 2019 regular session and effective July 2, 2019. Incorporated herein are Act 244 (effective July 2, 2019) and Act 64 (effective July 1, 2018).
Hawaii Revised Statutes (unofficial version)
PUBLIC AGENCY MEETINGS AND RECORDS
92-1 DECLARATION OF POLICY AND INTENT
92-1.5 ADMINISTRATION OF THIS PART
92-2.5 PERMITTED INTERACTIONS OF MEMBERS
92-3 OPEN MEETINGS
92-3.1 LIMITED MEETINGS
92-3.5 MEETING BY INTERACTIVE CONFERENCE TECHNOLOGY; NOTICE; QUORUM
92-4 EXECUTIVE MEETINGS
92-6 JUDICIAL BRANCH, QUASI-JUDICIAL BOARDS AND INVESTIGATORY FUNCTIONS; APPLICABILITY
92-7.5 BOARD PACKET; FILING; PUBLIC INSPECTION; NOTICE
92-8 EMERGENCY MEETINGS
92-10 LEGISLATIVE BRANCH; APPLICABILITY
§92-1 Declaration of policy and intent. In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power. Governmental agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public’s interest. Therefore, the legislature declares that it is the policy of this State that the formation and conduct of public policy – the discussions, deliberations, decisions, and action of governmental agencies – shall be conducted as openly as possible. To implement this policy the legislature declares that:
(1) It is the intent of this part to protect the people’s right to know;
(2) The provisions requiring open meetings shall be liberally construed; and
(3) The provisions providing for exceptions to the open meeting requirements shall be strictly construed against closed meetings. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1]
§92-1.5 Administration of this part. The director of the office of information practices shall administer this part. The director shall establish procedures for filing and responding to complaints filed by any person concerning the failure of any board to comply with this part. An agency may not appeal a decision by the office of information practices made under this chapter, except as provided in section 92F-43. The director of the office of information practices shall submit an annual report of these complaints along with final resolution of complaints, and other statistical data to the legislature, no later than twenty days prior to the convening of each regular session. [L 1998, c 137, §2; am L 2012, c 176, §2]
“Board” means any agency, board, commission, authority, or committee of the State or its political subdivisions which is created by constitution, statute, rule, or executive order, to have supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power over specific matters and which is required to conduct meetings and to take official actions.
“Chance meeting” means a social or informal assemblage of two or more members at which matters relating to official business are not discussed.
“Interactive conference technology” means any form of audio or audio and visual conference technology, including teleconference, videoconference, and voice over internet protocol, that facilitates interaction between the public and board members.
“Meeting” means the convening of a board for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision upon a matter over which the board has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 1976, c 212, §1; am L 2012, c 202, §1]
§92-2.5 Permitted interactions of members. (a) Two members of a board may discuss between themselves matters relating to official board business to enable them to perform their duties faithfully, as long as no commitment to vote is made or sought and the two members do not constitute a quorum of their board.
(b) Two or more members of a board, but less than the number of members which would constitute a quorum for the board, may be assigned to:
(1) Investigate a matter relating to the official business of their board; provided that:
(A) The scope of the investigation and the scope of each member’s authority are defined at a meeting of the board;
(B) All resulting findings and recommendations are presented to the board at a meeting of the board; and
(C) Deliberation and decisionmaking on the matter investigated, if any, occurs only at a duly noticed meeting of the board held subsequent to the meeting at which the findings and recommendations of the investigation were presented to the board; or
(2) Present, discuss, or negotiate any position which the board has adopted at a meeting of the board; provided that the assignment is made and the scope of each member’s authority is defined at a meeting of the board prior to the presentation, discussion, or negotiation.
(c) Discussions between two or more members of a board, but less than the number of members which would constitute a quorum for the board, concerning the selection of the board’s officers may be conducted in private without limitation or subsequent reporting.
(d) Board members present at a meeting that must be canceled for lack of quorum or terminated pursuant to section 92-3.5(c) may nonetheless receive testimony and presentations on items on the agenda and question the testifiers or presenters; provided that:
(1) Deliberation or decisionmaking on any item, for which testimony or presentations are received, occurs only at a duly noticed meeting of the board held subsequent to the meeting at which the testimony and presentations were received;
(2) The members present shall create a record of the oral testimony or presentations in the same manner as would be required by section 92-9 for testimony or presentations heard during a meeting of the board; and
(3) Before its deliberation or decisionmaking at a subsequent meeting, the board shall:
(A) Provide copies of the testimony and presentations received at the canceled meeting to all members of the board; and
(B) Receive a report by the members who were present at the canceled or terminated meeting about the testimony and presentations received.
(e) Two or more members of a board, but less than the number of members which would constitute a quorum for the board, may attend an informational meeting or presentation on matters relating to official board business, including a meeting of another entity, legislative hearing, convention, seminar, or community meeting; provided that the meeting or presentation is not specifically and exclusively organized for or directed toward members of the board. The board members in attendance may participate in discussions, including discussions among themselves; provided that the discussions occur during and as part of the informational meeting or presentation; and provided further that no commitment relating to a vote on the matter is made or sought.
At the next duly noticed meeting of the board, the board members shall report their attendance and the matters presented and discussed that related to official board business at the informational meeting or presentation.
(f) Discussions between the governor and one or more members of a board may be conducted in private without limitation or subsequent reporting; provided that the discussion does not relate to a matter over which a board is exercising its adjudicatory function.
(g) Discussions between two or more members of a board and the head of a department to which the board is administratively assigned may be conducted in private without limitation; provided that the discussion is limited to matters specified in section 26-35.
(h) Communications, interactions, discussions. investigations, and presentations described in this section are not meetings for purposes of this part. [L 1996, c 267, §2; am L 2005, c 84, §1; am L 2012, c 177, §1]
§92-3 Open meetings. Every meeting of all boards shall be open to the public and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting unless otherwise provided in the constitution or as closed pursuant to sections 92-4 and 92-5; provided that the removal of any person or persons who wilfully disrupts a meeting to prevent and compromise the conduct of the meeting shall not be prohibited. The boards shall afford all interested persons an opportunity to submit data, views, or arguments, in writing, on any agenda item. The boards shall also afford all interested persons an opportunity to present oral testimony on any agenda item. The boards may provide for reasonable administration of oral testimony by rule. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 1985, c 278, §1]
§92-3.1 Limited meetings. (a) If a board determines that it is necessary to meet at a location that is dangerous to health or safety, or if a board determines that it is necessary to conduct an on-site inspection of a location that is related to the board’s business at which public attendance is not practicable, and the director of the office of information practices concurs, the board may hold a limited meeting at that location that shall not be open to the public; provided that at a regular meeting of the board prior to the limited meeting:
(1) The board determines, after sufficient public deliberation, that it is necessary to hold the limited meeting and specifies that the location is dangerous to health or safety or that the on-site inspection is necessary and public attendance is impracticable;
(2) Two-thirds of all members to which the board is entitled vote to adopt the determinations required by paragraph (1); and
(3) Notice of the limited meeting is provided in accordance with section 92-7.
(b) A county council may hold a limited meeting that is open to the public, as the guest of a board or community group holding its own meeting, and the council shall not be required to have a quorum of members in attendance or accept oral testimony; provided that:
(1) Notice of the limited meeting shall be provided in accordance with section 92-7, shall indicate the board or community group whose meeting the council is attending, and shall not be required to include an agenda;
(2) If the board or community group whose meeting the council is attending is subject to part I, chapter 92, then that board or community group shall comply with the notice, agenda, testimony, minutes, and other requirements of part I, chapter 92;
(3) No more than one limited meeting per month shall be held by a county council for any one board or community group;
(4) No limited meetings shall be held outside the State; and
(5) Limited meetings shall not be used to circumvent the purpose of part I, chapter 92.
(c) At all limited meetings, the board shall:
(1) Videotape the meeting, unless the requirement is waived by the director of the office of information practices, and comply with all requirements of section 92-9;
(2) Make the videotape available at the next regular meeting; and
(3) Make no decisions at the meeting.
(d) Each county council shall submit an annual report to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of each regular session on the effectiveness and application of limited meeting procedures provided in subsection (b), including any recommendations or proposed legislation. [L 1995, c 212, §1; am L 2008, c 20, §1; am L 2014, c 221, §2; am L 2016, c 56, §1, 2]
§92-3.5 Meeting by interactive conference technology; notice; quorum. (a) A board may hold a meeting by interactive conference technology; provided that the interactive conference technology used by the board allows interaction among all members of the board participating in the meeting and all members of the public attending the meeting, and the notice required by section 92-7 identifies all of the locations where participating board members will be physically present and indicates that members of the public may join board members at any of the identified locations.
(b) Any board member participating in a meeting by interactive conference technology shall be considered present at the meeting for the purpose of determining compliance with the quorum and voting requirements of the board.
(c) A meeting held by interactive conference technology shall be terminated when audio communication cannot be maintained with all locations where the meeting by interactive conference technology is being held, even if a quorum of the board is physically present in one location. If copies of visual aids required by, or brought to the meeting by board members or members of the public, are not available to all meeting participants, at all locations where audio-only interactive conference technology is being used, within fifteen minutes after audio-only communication is used, those agenda items for which visual aids are not available for all participants at all meeting locations cannot be acted upon at the meeting.
(d) Notwithstanding the other provisions of this section to the contrary, a board member with a disability that limits or impairs the member’s ability to physically attend the meeting may participate in a board meeting from a location not accessible to the public; provided that the member with a disability is connected to other members of the board and the public by both visual and audio means, and the member identifies where the member is located and who, if anyone, is present at that location with the member. [L 1994, c 121, §1; am L 2000, c 284, §2; am L 2006, c 152, §1; am L 2012, c 202, §2]
§92-4 Executive meetings. A board may hold an executive meeting closed to the public upon an affirmative vote, taken at an open meeting, of two-thirds of the members present; provided the affirmative vote constitutes a majority of the members to which the board is entitled. A meeting closed to the public shall be limited to matters exempted by section 92-5. The reason for holding such a meeting shall be publicly announced and the vote of each member on the question of holding a meeting closed to the public shall be recorded, and entered into the minutes of the meeting. (L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 1985, c 278, §2]
(1) To consider and evaluate personal information relating to individuals applying for professional or vocational licenses cited in section 26-9 or both;
(2) To consider the hire, evaluation, dismissal, or discipline of an officer or employee or of charges brought against the officer or employee, where consideration of matters affecting privacy will be involved; provided that if the individual concerned requests an open meeting, an open meeting shall be held;
(3) To deliberate concerning the authority of persons designated by the board to conduct labor negotiations or to negotiate the acquisition of public property, or during the conduct of such negotiations;
(4) To consult with the board’s attorney on questions and issues pertaining to the board’s powers, duties, privileges, immunities, and liabilities;
(5) To investigate proceedings regarding criminal misconduct;
(6) To consider sensitive matters related to public safety or security;
(7) To consider matters relating to the solicitation and acceptance of private donations; and
(8) To deliberate or make a decision upon a matter that requires the consideration of information that must be kept confidential pursuant to a state or federal law, or a court order.
(b) In no instance shall the board make a decision or deliberate toward a decision in an executive meeting on matters not directly related to the purposes specified in subsection (a). No chance meeting, permitted interaction, or electronic communication shall be used to circumvent the spirit or requirements of this part to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision upon a matter over which the board has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 1985, c 278, §3; gen ch 1985; am L 1996, c 267, §3; am L 1998, c 48, §1; am L 1999, c 49, §1]
(a) This part shall not apply:
(1) To the judicial branch.
(2) To adjudicatory functions exercised by a board and governed by sections 91-8 and 91-9, or authorized by other sections of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. In the application of this subsection, boards exercising adjudicatory functions include, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) Hawaii labor relations board, chapters 89 and 377;
(B) Labor and industrial relations appeals board, chapter 371;
(C) Hawaii paroling authority, chapter 353;
(D) Civil service commission, chapter 26;
(E) Board of trustees, employees’ retirement system of the State of Hawaii, chapter 88;
(F) Crime victim compensation commission, chapter 351; and
(G) State ethics commission, chapter 84.
(b) Notwithstanding provisions in this section to the contrary, this part shall apply to require open deliberation of the adjudicatory functions of the land use commission. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 1976, c 92, §8; am L 1985, c 251, §11; am L 1998, c 240, §6]
§92-7 Notice. (a) The board shall give written public notice of any regular, special, emergency, or rescheduled meeting, or any executive meeting when anticipated in advance. The notice shall include an agenda that lists all of the items to be considered at the forthcoming meeting; the date, time, and place of the meeting; instructions on how to request an auxiliary aid or service or an accommodation due to a disability, including a response deadline, if one is provided, that is reasonable; and in the case of an executive meeting the purpose shall be stated. If an item to be considered is the proposed adoption, amendment, or repeal of administrative rules, an agenda meets the requirements for public notice pursuant to this section if it contains a statement on the topic of the proposed rules or a general description of the subjects involved, as described in section 91-3(a)(1)(A), and a statement of when and where the proposed rules may be viewed in person and on the Internet as provided in section 91-2.6. The means specified by this section shall be the only means required for giving notice under this part notwithstanding any law to the contrary.
(b) No less than six calendar days prior to the meeting, the board shall post the notice on an electronic calendar on a website maintained by the State or the appropriate county and post a notice in the board’s office for public inspection. The notice shall also be posted at the site of the meeting whenever feasible. The board shall file a copy of the notice with the office of the lieutenant governor or the appropriate county clerk’s office and retain a copy of proof of filing the notice, and the office of the lieutenant governor or the appropriate clerk’s office shall timely post paper or electronic copies of all meeting notices in a central location in a public building; provided that a failure to do so by the board, the office of the lieutenant governor, or the appropriate county clerk’s office shall not require cancellation of the meeting. The copy of the notice to be provided to the office of the lieutenant governor or the appropriate county clerk’s office may be provided via electronic mail to an electronic mail address designated by the office of the lieutenant governor or the appropriate county clerk’s office, as applicable.
(c) If the written public notice is electronically posted on an electronic calendar less than six calendar days before the meeting, the meeting shall be canceled as a matter of law and shall not be held. The chairperson or the director shall ensure that a notice canceling the meeting is posted at the place of the meeting. If there is a dispute as to whether a notice was timely posted on an electronic calendar maintained by the State or appropriate county, a printout of the electronic time-stamped agenda shall be conclusive evidence of the electronic posting date. The board shall provide a copy of the time-stamped record upon request.
(d) No board shall change the agenda, less than six calendar days prior to the meeting, by adding items thereto without a two-thirds recorded vote of all members to which the board is entitled; provided that no item shall be added to the agenda if it is of reasonably major importance and action thereon by the board will affect a significant number of persons. Items of reasonably major importance not decided at a scheduled meeting shall be considered only at a meeting continued to a reasonable day and time.
(e) The board shall maintain a list of names and postal or electronic mail addresses of persons who request notification of meetings and shall mail or electronically mail a copy of the notice to the persons by the means chosen by the persons at their last recorded postal or electronic mail address no later than the time the agenda is required to be electronically posted under subsection (b). [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 1976, c 212, §2; am L 1984, c 271, §1; am L 1985, c 278, §4; am L 1995, c 13, §2; am L 2012, c 177, §2; am L 2014, c 68, §1; am L 2017, c 64, §2; am L 2018, c 63, §1; am L 2019, c 244, §2]
[§92-7.5] Board packet; filing; public inspection; notice. At the time the board packet is distributed to the board members, the board shall also make the board packet available for public inspection in the board’s office. The board shall provide notice to persons requesting notification of meetings pursuant to section 92-7(e) that the board packet is available for inspection in the board’s office and shall provide reasonably prompt access to the board packet to any person upon request. The board is not required to mail board packets. As soon as practicable, the board shall accommodate requests for electronic access to the board packet.
For purposes of this section, “board packet” means documents that are compiled by the board and distributed to board members before a meeting for use at that meeting, to the extent the documents are public under chapter 92F; provided that this section shall not require disclosure of executive session minutes, license applications, or other records for which the board cannot reasonably complete its redaction of nonpublic information in the time available before the public inspection required by this section. [L 2017, c 64, §1]
§92-8 Emergency meetings. (a) If a board finds that an imminent peril to the public health, safety, or welfare requires a meeting in less time than is provided for in section 92-7, the board may hold an emergency meeting provided that:
(1) The board states in writing the reasons for its findings;
(2) Two-thirds of all members to which the board is entitled agree that the findings are correct and an emergency exists;
(3) An emergency agenda and the findings are electronically posted pursuant to section 92-7(b), filed with the office of the lieutenant governor or the appropriate county clerk’s office, and posted in the board’s office; provided further that the six calendar day requirement for filing and electronic posting shall not apply; and
(4) Persons requesting notification on a regular basis are contacted by postal or electronic mail or telephone as soon as practicable.
(b) If an unanticipated event requires a board to take action on a matter over which it has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power, within less time than is provided for in section 92-7 to notice and convene a meeting of the board, the board may hold an emergency meeting to deliberate and decide whether and how to act in response to the unanticipated event; provided that:
(1) The board states in writing the reasons for its finding that an unanticipated event has occurred and that an emergency meeting is necessary and the attorney general concurs that the conditions necessary for an emergency meeting under this subsection exist;
(2) Two-thirds of all members to which the board is entitled agree that the conditions necessary for an emergency meeting under this subsection exist;
(3) The finding that an unanticipated event has occurred and that an emergency meeting is necessary and the agenda for the emergency meeting under this subsection are electronically posted pursuant to section 92-7(b), filed with the office of the lieutenant governor or the appropriate county clerk’s office, and posted in the board’s office; provided further that the six calendar day requirement for filing and electronic posting shall not apply;
(4) Persons requesting notification on a regular basis are contacted by postal or electronic mail or telephone as soon as practicable; and
(5) The board limits its action to only that action that must be taken on or before the date that a meeting would have been held, had the board noticed the meeting pursuant to section 92-7.
(c) For purposes of this part, an “unanticipated event” means:
(1) An event which members of the board did not have sufficient advance knowledge of or reasonably could not have known about from information published by the media or information generally available in the community;
(2) A deadline established by a legislative body, a court, or a federal, state, or county agency beyond the control of a board; or
(3) A consequence of an event for which reasonably informed and knowledgeable board members could not have taken all necessary action. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 1996, c 267, §4; am L 2017, c 64, §3; am L 2019, c 244, §3]
§92-9 Minutes. (a) The board shall keep written or recorded minutes of all meetings. Unless otherwise required by law, neither a full transcript nor a recording of the meeting is required, but the minutes shall give a true reflection of the matters discussed at the meeting and the views of the participants. Written minutes shall include, but need not be limited to:
(1) The date, time and place of the meeting;
(2) The members of the board recorded as either present or absent;
(3) The substance of all matters proposed, discussed, or decided; and a record, by individual member, of any votes taken; and
(4) Any other information that any member of the board requests be included or reflected in the minutes.
(b) The minutes shall be made available to the public by posting on the board’s website or, if the board does not have a website, on an appropriate state or county website within forty days after the meeting except where such disclosure would be inconsistent with section 92-5; provided that minutes of executive meetings may be withheld so long as their publication would defeat the lawful purpose of the executive meeting, but no longer. A written summary shall accompany any minutes that are posted in a digital or analog recording format and shall include:
(1) The date, time, and place of the meeting;
(2) The members of the board recorded as either present or absent, and the times when
individual members entered or left the meeting;
(3) A record, by individual member, of motions and votes made by the board; and
(4) A time stamp or other reference indicating when in the recording the board began
discussion of each agenda item and when motions and votes were made by the board.
(c) All or any part of a meeting, of a board may be recorded by any person in attendance by any means of reproduction, except when a meeting is closed pursuant to section 92-4; provided the recording does not actively interfere with the conduct of the meeting. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 2017, c 64, §4]
§92-10 Legislative branch; applicability. Notwithstanding any provisions contained in this chapter to the contrary, open meeting requirements, and provisions regarding enforcement, penalties and sanctions, as they are to relate to the state legislature or to any of its members shall be such as shall be from time to time prescribed by the respective rules and procedures of the senate and the house of representatives, which rules and procedures shall take precedence over this part. Similarly, provisions relating to notice, agenda and minutes of meetings, and such other requirements as may be necessary, shall also be governed by the respective rules and procedures of the senate and the house of representatives. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1]
§92-11 Voidability. Any final action taken in violation of sections 92-3 and 92-7 may be voidable upon proof of violation. A suit to void any final action shall be commenced within ninety days of the action. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 2005, c 84, §2]
(b) The circuit courts of the State shall have jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this part by injunction or other appropriate remedy.
(c) Any person may commence a suit in the circuit court of the circuit in which a prohibited act occurs for the purpose of requiring compliance with or preventing violations of this part or to determine the applicability of this part to discussions or decisions of the public body. The court may order payment of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the prevailing party in a suit brought under this section.
(d) Opinions and rulings of the office of information practices shall be admissible in an action brought under this part and shall be considered as precedent unless found to be palpably erroneous.
(e) The proceedings for review shall not stay the enforcement of any agency decisions; but the reviewing court may order a stay if the following criteria have been met:
(1) There is likelihood that the party bringing the action will prevail on the merits;
(2) Irreparable damage will result if a stay is not ordered;
(3) No irreparable damage to the public will result from the stay order; and
(4) Public interest will be served by the stay order. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1; am L 1985, c 278, §5; am L 2012, c 176, §3]
§92-13 Penalties. Any person who wilfully violates any provisions of this part shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction, may be summarily removed from the board unless otherwise provided by law. [L 1975, c 166, pt of §1]