S Memo 14-14

Posted on Jun 30, 2014 in Informal Opinions - Sunshine Law

S Memo 14-14
June 30, 2014
Sufficiency of Agendas

Requester asked for six separate determinations as to whether the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), the Small Business Regulatory Review Board (SBRRB), and the Communication Access Committee of the Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB Committee), violated the Sunshine Law by considering items that Requester believed were insufficiently described on eight agendas, for their respective meetings.

Of the eight agendas being reviewed, OIP concluded that an item on the agenda for one of BLNR’s meetings did not provide the public with adequate notice under the Sunshine Law, as the description of the land at issue was incomplete.  However, BLNR corrected the agenda description to describe the land accurately and considered the matter at another open meeting, which mitigated any harm to the public.

OIP concluded that an item on the agenda for another BLNR meeting provided sufficient detail of what the board intended to consider at the meeting, and, therefore, satisfied the Sunshine Law’s notice requirements.

OIP further concluded that items on the five agendas pertaining to the adoption, amendment or repeal of administrative rules did not meet the notice and agenda requirements of the Sunshine Law, as they did not provide the public with reasonable notice of all of the matters that the boards would be considering.

However, with regard to these agenda items concerning administrative rulemaking, the Hawaii State Legislature has recently amended the Sunshine Law’s public meeting notice requirements in section 92-7(a), HRS.  For the proposed adoption, amendment or repeal of administrative rules, Act 68 now conforms the Sunshine Law requirements for agenda descriptions to Chapter 91, HRS’s requirements for providing notice of rulemaking generally.

Under this new law, when a Sunshine Law board considers administrative rule changes, its agenda is sufficient to give public notice under the Sunshine Law if it meets the notice requirements for administrative rulemaking in section 91‑3(a)(1)(A), HRS’(statement of topic or general description of the subjects of proposed rules) and section 91-2.6, HRS (where proposed rules may be viewed on the Internet), and includes a statement of when and where the proposed rules may be viewed in person.  Consequently, a Sunshine Law board may, but is no longer required to, detail on its agenda each rule proposed to be adopted, amended or repealed, nor need the board describe the effect of each rule, in order to meet the Sunshine Law’s notice requirements.

Finally, with respect to the eighth agenda, OIP concluded that DCAB’s agenda items were sufficiently described, so there was no Sunshine Law violation.