Openline February 1998Posted on Feb 1, 1998 in Newsletter
Bills Affecting Information Practices:
- OIP’s Future
- Health Care Information
- Traffic Enforcement & Driver’s Licenses
- UIPA Related Lawsuits
- Other Bills
1998 Legislative Update:
Bills Affecting Information Practices
The 1998 Regular Session of the Hawaii State Legislature is now underway, and this year the Office of Information Practices is monitoring 256 legislative proposals that could affect government information practices in Hawaii.
Since January of 1998, the OIP has reviewed over 167 bills for their potential impact on government information practices. In addition to the 151 bills that carried over from the 1997 Session, 105 new measures have been added to the OIP tracking list. This article provides summaries of some of those bills.
For an expanded list of the bills being tracked by this office, call 586-1400.
Moving the OIP; Sunshine Law
S.B. 2983 would convert the OIP to a Legislative Service Agency, thus changing its present status as an agency administratively attached to the Department of the Attorney General. In addition to its current powers and duties under section 92F-42, Hawaii Revised Statutes, this bill would give the OIP jurisdiction to investigate alleged violations of Chapter 92, HRS, which governs public meetings and is commonly referred to as the “Sunshine” law.
S.B. 2983 was heard jointly by the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection & Information Technology Committee (“CPI”) and the Senate Judiciary Committee. At decision-making, the joint committee decided to pass this bill with technical amendments.
Downsizing the OIP
S.B. 3030, and H.B. 2994 seek to achieve operational and fiscal savings by eliminating the OIP and creating an information practices officer. The bills would administratively attach that position and a secretarial position to the Office of the Ombudsman. The power to render binding opinions would be given to the Attorney General and the County Corporation Counsels.
In addition, these bills repeal the appeals process in sections 92F-15.5 and 92F-27.5, HRS, and repeal section 92F-26, HRS, which empowers the OIP to establish procedural rules. These bills also repeal Part IV of the UIPA, which enumerates the powers and duties of the OIP. S.B. 3030 was heard jointly by the Senate CPI and Judiciary Committees. At decision-making, the joint committee decided to hold S.B. 3030. H.B. 2994 has not yet been set for hearing.
Health Care Information:
Currently, no federal or state law specifically makes health care information held by the private sector confidential. Although the UIPA recognizes that individuals have a significant privacy interest in their medical records, government agencies that maintain such information are required to disclose this private data when the public interest in disclosure outweighs the individual’s privacy interest.
S.B. 3084 seeks to make health care information confidential and to give individuals greater control over this information. This bill would prohibit disclosure of an individual’s health care information unless the individual consents or in limited situations which are specified in the bill. Furthermore, this bill gives individuals the right to inspect and ask for corrections to be made in their health care records. The Department of Health sponsored the bill and the OIP has been consulting on the bill.
Traffic Enforcement & Driver’s Licenses:
Photo Radar and Photo Red Light Systems
S.B. 2374 and H.B. 2430 would initiate, as a pilot project, automated radar and photo red light systems for traffic enforcement. The systems would be implemented by a private contractor who would, among other things, operate the photo/electric mechanisms, review motor vehicle registration records and driver’s license records, and issue citations.
The OIP testified that the bill’s provisions regarding confidentiality did not sufficiently protect from disclosure home addresses and other information. After consulting with the Honolulu Police Department, the OIP proposed amendments to clarify that the private contractor’s access to, and use of, confidential data would be limited to the contractor’s services necessary for the issuance of traffic citations and court purposes.
Social Security Numbers on Driver’s Licenses
S.B. 2006 and H.B. 2347 would prohibit social security numbers from being displayed on driver’s licenses. The OIP is closely following the bill’s progression through the Legislature. The January 1996 Openline discussed disclosure of social security numbers.
UIPA Related Lawsuits:
Under the UIPA, the OIP is statutorily authorized to intervene in civil lawsuits where UIPA provisions are called into question. Although the OIP may intervene in these lawsuits, there is no requirement that parties to the lawsuit inform the OIP of an impending action. H.B. 2774, and its companion S.B. 2785, remedy this shortcoming by requiring that the OIP be advised in writing whenever a civil action is filed under, relates to, or otherwise affects the UIPA. The OIP supports this bill because it would give the OIP the opportunity to intervene, when necessary, to protect public access rights.
S.B. 2596 seeks to streamline the rulemaking process for the OIP and proposes that the OIP only comply with the rulemaking requirements set forth in Chapter 91. The OIP took no position on the bill but instead testified to the advantages and disadvantages of being exempt from the supplemental requirements and reviews.
S.B. 2363 requires legislative approval of agency rules relating to fees. As the OIP is required to adopt rules setting forth fees that agencies may charge for searching for, reviewing, and segregating records, the OIP’s rulemaking would be affected by this bill.
Records of Proposed Tourism Board
H.B. 2554 and S.B. 2201 would establish a Hawaii Tourism Board, which would oversee a special fund for tourism to be funded by raising the transient accommodations tax. The bills also provide for tourism related data collection and research to be conducted by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). The OIP testified that the provisions regarding confidentiality of the data collected may prohibit data sharing with other agencies.After consulting with the OIP, DBEDT proposed amendments to the House bill to clarify these provisions.
Sex Offender Information
H.B. 2775 and S.B. 2775 would limit information that is made public about a registered sex offender’s future residence to the street name and zip code. These bills make the statutory disclosure requirements concerning a sex offender’s current and future residence consistent with each other. During the 1997 legislative session, the OIP had testified in support of limiting the information that would be public about a registered sex offender’s residence. Such limitation on disclosure protects an individual’s privacy, but still provides sufficient information to the public for its protection.
Collective Bargaining Agreements Cannot Supersede Law
S.B. 3042 sets forth the principle, argued by the OIP and affirmed by the Hawaii Supreme Court in SHOPO v. SPJ, 83 Haw. 378 (1996), that collective bargaining agreement provisions contrary to State law are void.
Job Reference Liability
Six bills propose to limit the civil liability of a current or former employer who, in good faith, releases information about a current or former employee to a prospective employer. In 1997 the OIP worked with the Department of Human Resources and Development to ensure that government employees’ rights under the UIPA would not be diminished by these proposals. These bills affect both private and public sector employees. Three of these bills have had hearings: S.B. 3088, H.B. 2543, and H.B. 3529.
Upcoming issues of Openline will provide periodic updates on these and other relevant measures as they progress through the 1998 Legislature. If you have questions or concerns about these bills or any other legislation contact us at (808) 586-1400.