Posted on Nov 6, 2023 in Featured, What's New

The State Office of Information Practices (OIP) has posted six new opinions on its Opinions page at oip.hawaii.gov.  Summaries for each opinion and the full text of the three formal opinions are posted online.

OIP Op. Ltr. No. F24-01 followed the analysis previously provided in OIP Op. Ltr. No. F13-01 to conclude that no Part III exemption under the Chapter 92F, Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA), allowed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to withhold any portion of a requesting employee’s personal record, including portions that are the joint personal record of the requester and other employees.  Additionally, OIP concluded that the frustration exception to disclosure of government records at section 92F-13(3), HRS, applied only to government records under Part II and not personal records under Part III, and that the DOT did not meet its burden under Part II to justify its denial of access to findings and conclusions, except for limited information about another employee and a different complaint.

In OIP Op. Ltr. No. F24-02, OIP concluded that the Maui Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board (MMPOPB) was subject to a statutorily created permitted interaction under section 279D-9(b), HRS.  Because the MMPOPB discussions were not considered Sunshine Law “meetings” under section 92-2.5(i), HRS, three Maui County Councilmembers could freely discuss issues within the MMPOPB’s authority.  The requirements of a different permitted interaction were not applicable, so the Councilmembers need not subsequently report to the Maui Council their MMPOPB attendance and the matters discussed under section 92-2.5(e), HRS.

The latest formal opinion, OIP Op. Ltr. No. F24-03, provides boards with important guidance on Sunshine Law requirements for notice, procedures to enter into executive sessions and permissible discussions and votes during such meetings closed to the public, executive session summaries required by Act 19 that became effective on July 1, 2023, and remedies for violations.  A detailed summary and full text of the opinion have been posted.

OIP also posted summaries for three new informal opinions, all of which related to the UIPA.  In U Memo 24-01, a former Department of Transportation-Harbors Division (DOT-HARBORS) employee requested access to a copy of an internal administrative investigation report about him from DOT-HARBORS.  OIP found that DOT-HARBORS voluntarily disclosed the report to the requester’s union representative who was acting on the requester’s behalf.  By its voluntary disclosure of the report, DOT-HARBORS waived the application of any potential UIPA Part II exceptions or Part III exemptions to disclosure.  Thus, OIP concluded that DOT-HARBORS must disclose the report it had previously disclosed to the requester’s union representative, including an unredacted copy of an enclosure.

In U Memo 24-02, the requesters sought copies of the successorship document reflecting their two minor sons as the successors to the lease (Successorship Document) from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).  DHHL denied the request on the basis that it did not maintain the records and stated that the requested record did not exist.  Based on the information provided by DHHL, OIP found that DHHL conducted a reasonable search for the Successorship Document in the locations where any responsive electronic records and physical files were mostly likely to have been found.  OIP therefore concluded that DHHL’s search for records was reasonable, and its response to Requesters’ request was proper under the UIPA.  Requesters requested reconsideration of OIP’s decision, which OIP denied under section 2-73-19, HAR, as there was no change in the law or facts, or other compelling circumstances.

In U Memo 24-03, the requester sought a copy of a report or document of findings by a Kauai County Planning Department (PLAN-K) employee regarding fencing at Lepeuli.  PLAN-K claimed that it was unable to disclose the requested records because it does not maintain the records.  Based on the information provided by PLAN-K, OIP found that appropriate staff conducted a reasonable search for records in the locations where any responsive records were most likely to have been found.  OIP therefore concluded that PLAN-K’s search for records was reasonable, and its response to the request was proper under the UIPA.

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