The State Office of Information Practices (OIP) reminds Sunshine Law boards that two 2023 laws, Act 019 and Act 125, added new Sunshine Law requirements effective July 1 and October 1, 2023.
Act 019 (SB 1513), which went into effect on July 1, requires a board to report its discussion and any final action it took in an executive session when it reconvenes in public session. The board is not required to disclose any information that would be inconsistent with the purpose of the executive session. If disclosure would frustrate the purpose of the executive session, the board can keep the information confidential for as long as that continues to be true. Instead, a board should briefly summarize what happened in the executive session, without disclosing any sensitive details, and give the public an idea of what topic the board discussed during the session. While boards normally should not be voting in executive session, OIP has recognized that in limited instances, a vote may be necessary in executive session to avoid frustrating the purpose of the session, and thus, the board must now inform the public that it took action and what it decided in general terms without disclosing confidential information. Act 019 went into effect July 1, so boards should now be making this required report after every executive session.
Act 125 (HB 712, HD 1, SD 1) encourages boards to keep recordings of remote meetings online even after posting the meeting minutes online. The new law requires that before a board removes a remote meeting recording from its website, it must first send a copy of the recording to the State Archives. For all types of meetings, the new law also requires the beginning of a board’s written minutes to include a link to an electronic audio or video recording of the meeting if such a recording is available online. (Recorded minutes already require both a recording and, in the written summary, a link to that recording.) The new law does not create a new requirement for boards to record meetings or to post meeting minutes online, so the new requirements apply only to recordings that boards are already creating and posting, typically because they are holding remote meetings or are choosing to create recorded minutes. Act 125 goes into effect October 1, 2023.
OIP is currently updating its training materials as needed to reflect these new requirements. For impartial and objective open government news, check OIP’s website at oip.hawaii.gov, sign up for OIP’s What’s New emailed articles at [email protected], or call (808) 586-1400 to speak to the Attorney of the Day.