In addition to what was posted last week on its Training page, the State Office of Information Practices (OIP) has updated its two-part basic Sunshine Law training video and related materials to incorporate the Sunshine Law changes that went into effect in July, 2022. OIP also posted a new “Quick Review: Tips for Remote Meeting Notices
During the lengthy emergency suspension of the Sunshine Law due to the Covid-19 pandemic, boards continued to work by holding remote meetings online. While basic principles of the Sunshine Law remain the same, specific requirements for holding a remote meeting were added to the statute, effective January 1, 2022 and later. These statutory changes may sometimes conflict with the way boards had become accustomed to conducting meetings and providing notice while they were operating under emergency proclamations. OIP’s new Quick Review attempts to clarify some areas that have caused confusion and offer practical tips.
For any public meeting, the Sunshine Law requires the board’s notice to provide “the date, time, and place of the meeting,” which shall be open to the public and all persons shall be permitted to attend” unless the meeting is closed by law. For a remote meeting, the notice must specifically include information on how to remotely view the meeting and provide remote oral testimony. Just as a person should be able to attend and testify at an in-person meeting anonymously and without having to contact the board for the meeting location, a person wishing to attend a remote meeting should be able to click on the meeting link in the board’s notice to attend or testify anonymously, or to call a telephone number to orally testify during the meeting, without having to pre-register or contact the board in advance.
If these basic requirements are met, then the Sunshine Law also allows a board to provide for the reasonable administration of oral testimony by rule, such as determining the order of testimony and setting in advance reasonable time limits for oral testimony. The board can offer optional, alternative ways to view or testify at a remote meeting, even if the alternative requires some form of pre-registration or prior inquiry. For example, a notice listing a phone number as the primary method to provide oral testimony during the meeting could also offer an optional alternative to pre-register or email the board in advance to get an online link to give video or oral testimony that will be heard before the testifiers who have not pre-registered.
For additional tips, please see the new Quick Review. If you have questions, please email [email protected] or call our Attorney of the Day at (808) 586-1400. Mahalo.