OIP’s Bills Are Enacted!

Posted on Jul 2, 2012 in What's New

July 2, 2012

The state Office of Information Practices (OIP) is pleased to announce that Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law two important open government bills.

Act 176, signed on June 28, 2012, enacts S.B. 2858, S.D. 1, H.D. 2, C.D. 1. The new law creates a simple and uniform process for agencies to obtain judicial review of OIP decisions relating to the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) and the Sunshine Law, without requiring OIP or the requester to be embroiled in the appeal. At the same time, the law gives OIP’s decisions more clout and discourages agencies from frivolously appealing or simply ignoring OIP’s rulings. These changes take effect on January 1, 2013.

Act 177 was also signed into law the same day by Governor Abercrombie, and it enactsS.B. 2859, S.D. 1, H.D. 2, which creates two new permitted interactions under the Sunshine Law. One new permitted interaction would allow board members to receive testimony and ask questions at public meetings that must be cancelled due to a lack of quorum, provided that they make no decisions and thereafter report to the full board. The second new permitted interaction is similar to an existing provision that applied only to neighborhood boards. Less than a quorum of any Sunshine Law board’s members can now attend and discuss board business at seminars, conferences, informational meetings, legislative hearings, and other eetings, again provided that they make no decisions and thereafter report to the full board. Both of these new permitted interactions went into effect on July 1, 2012, and will help to promote greater public participation in government, better communication between the public and board members, and a fuller understanding of the issues and various perspectives by board members.

A third bill, S.B. 2737, S.D. 1, H.D. 2, C.D. 1, has not yet been signed by the Governor, but is not intended to be vetoed. This bill amends the Sunshine Law to allow teleconferences and eliminates the need for video coverage. The law also creates a new exception to make it easier for disabled members to attend a board meeting from a private location. As this bill should be signed shortly, it will retroactively take effect as of July 1, 2012.

OIP has updated its Sunshine Law guides and the law on its website to reflect the changes described above. For the latest facts and news about open government, look here on the What’s New page, or ask to be placed on OIP’s e-mail list for weekly What’s New updates.