Openline May 2001Posted on May 1, 2001 in Newsletter
2001 Legislative Wrap-Up: Information Practices
OIP Opinion: Historic Preservation Records Public
2001 Legislative Wrap-Up: Information Practices
During the 2001 Legislative Session, the Office of Information Practices (OIP) reviewed over 200 bills for their effect on government information practices. The bills listed below, unless otherwise noted, passed both houses of the Legislature and were sent to the Governor.
Public Employee Health Benefits
SB 1044 SD1 HD1 CD1 (signed into law as Act 88) establishes the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust as a single health benefit delivery system for State and county employees. Provides that the Board of Trustees shall be appointed by the Governor and shall administer the fund and establish the health benefits plan.
The OIP, noting that the bill originally allowed the board to meet without notice, testified that the board should be subject to the notice requirements for meetings in the State’s sunshine law (Chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statutes). The bill was amended to require the board chairperson to give at least six days’ written notice of meetings.
Hawaii Commission for National and Community Service
SB 1535 SD2 HD1 CD1 creates the Hawaii Commission for National and Community Service. Requires all meetings of the commission to be conducted subject to Chapter 92, HRS.
Privacy of Health Care Information
HB 201 HD1 SD2 CD1 repeals Act 87 (Chapter 323C, HRS), relating to the privacy of health care information, and repeals related acts. Act 87, signed into law June 23, 1999, was aimed at protecting the privacy of patient records. In August 2000, a special session of the Legislature postponed the effective date of Chapter 323C from July 1, 2000, to July 1, 2001. The 2001 Legislature has now repealed Act 87.
Meanwhile, the federal medical privacy rules adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 are being implemented this year by the Bush administration. For more details on the history of the medical privacy law in Hawaii, see the July-August 2000 issue of Openline, available online at www.state.hi.us/oip.
SB 1119 SD2 HD1 CD1 allows for electronic recordkeeping by drug dispensers and for electronic prescriptions from practitioners to dispensers. Requires any person who transmits, maintains, or receives any prescription to ensure the security, integrity, and confidentiality of the prescription.
HB 1211 HD1 SD1 CD1 establishes provisions relating to disclosure for firearms permit and registration purposes. Provides that a health care provider or public health authority shall disclose health information, including protected health care information, relating to an individual’s mental health history, to the appropriate county chief of police provided that the information shall be used only for the purpose of evaluating the individual’s fitness to acquire or own a firearm, and the individual has signed a waiver permitting such release.
Privacy of Financial Records
SB 1550 SD2 HD1 adds a new article to Chapter 431, HRS, governing the treatment of financial information about individuals by all insurers. The OIP testified against the bill because it failed to adequately protect the privacy of citizens’ financial information.
SB 1068 SD1 HD2 CD1 adopts the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Producer Licensing Model Act, effective July 1, 2002. The OIP testified against a section of the bill that exempts the insurance commissioner from the requirements of Chapter 92F, HRS, and creates a new confidentiality statute, making all of the insurance division’s records pertaining to an investigation confidential. The OIP generally opposes new confidentiality statutes unless they are absolutely necessary. The UIPA already contains five exceptions to disclosure, listed at section 92F-13, HRS.
SB 1060 SD1 HD2 CD1 requires information contained in any applications or record to be made available to the public unless that information may be withheld from public disclosure by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions under the Uniform Information Practices Act (Chapter 92F, HRS). As originally drafted, the bill would have allowed the Commissioner to decide which records could be withheld from public disclosure without reference to Chapter 92F, HRS.
Criminal History Record Checks
HB 161 HD2 SD2 CD1 creates a temporary working group within the Department of the Attorney General to make recommendations on policy issues concerning access and use of criminal history record information for employment and licensing purposes.
SB 805 SD1 HD1 allows the narcotics enforcement division to disclose investigative information to pharmacists for purposes of investigating violations of controlled substances law.
SB 951 SD1 HD1 requires the Department of the Attorney General to be responsible for the collection, storage, dissemination, and analysis of all hate crime data. The OIP opposed the bill because the definition of hate crimes data is far too broad and could lead to the collection of inappropriate information.
SB 1110 SD2 HD3 CD1 adds child abuse checks as a requirement for licensed child care providers and staff, and requires the Department of Human Services to disclose verified conviction criminal history and child abuse information on employees to their employers.
Children’s Advocacy Program
SB 1455 SD1 HD1 CD1 changes the name of the Children’s Advocacy Program to the Children’s Justice Program. Requires the program to coordinate information sharing among participating agencies. Clarifies its mission as reducing and preventing unnecessary trauma to children as witnesses.
Historic Preservation Records Public
A record requester made several requests for records of the Department of Land and Natural Resources State Historic Preservation Division (“SHPD”) over the course of several months. SHPD provided some records, and indicated that others were not maintained. At least twenty-seven written requests for records, however, were not responded to in accordance with the UIPA and OIP administrative rules.
The OIP attempted several times to elicit information from SHPD on the reasons for its nondisclosure. Finally, the OIP opined that since no information was presented to show that any of the information requested was not public, SHPD should allow the requester to make an appointment to come in and view the requested information, and if asked, SHPD should provide the requester with copies of the requested records. [OIP Op. Ltr. No. 00-3, Oct. 31, 2000]
The Office of Information Practices welcomes new staff attorney Georgia Fligg. Georgia is a graduate of the University of Hawaii and the law school of the University of Colorado at Boulder. She spent a semester at the Colorado Supreme Court as a judicial fellow, worked in the Denver district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and worked at the American Civil Liberties Union in Denver. Georgia has also worked in pension plan administration. She won the National Native American Law Student Moot Court Competition held at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. Georgia’s interests include hiking and mountain biking. Welcome, Georgia!
The office also welcomes Joy Fujimoto, Secretary to the Director. Joy comes to the OIP after almost ten years at the Judiciary. She is a graduate of St. Andrew’s Priory School and the University of Phoenix (Honolulu), with a degree in business information systems. Joy spends most of her spare time with her daughter, Lauren, who “plays well with others” and excels at math in her kindergarten class. Lauren also displayed other talents in a recent May Day performance, where she sparkled as one of a “school” of singing and dancing humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Welcome, Joy!
In other news, two OIP staff members have transferred. John Cole, staff attorney, moved to the Legislature before the 2001 session. John is now in the office of Representative Marcus Oshiro, Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. Lorena Leigh, former secretary to the Director, moved to the office of the Deputy Director of the Department of Design and Construction, City and County of Honolulu. John and Lorena, we wish you great satisfaction and success in your new positions!
Thank you to Pat Shields and Bonnie Trustin, two temporary workers who provided big assistance recently.
The OIP is pleased to announce that staff attorney Jennifer Brooks has a brand new son, her first child, born on November 14, 2000. Congratulations, Jennifer!