S Memo 14-6

Posted on Sep 23, 2013 in Informal Opinions - Sunshine Law

S Memo 14-6
September 23, 2013
Testimony Requirement

The Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) published a notice for a “briefing” held on June 13, 2013, which included an agenda that contained two items, each of which was described as a “non-decision making item.”  A member of the public alleged that public testimony was not allowed at the briefing, and that this violated the Sunshine Law.

The Sunshine Law requires that “boards shall afford all interested persons an opportunity to submit data, views, or arguments, in writing, on any agenda item.  The boards shall also afford all interested persons an opportunity to present oral testimony on any agenda item.” HRS § 92-3 (2012).  OIP found that, as a board subject to the Sunshine Law, BLNR must allow for public testimony at its meetings, including meetings designated as “briefings,” on every agenda item.

OIP does sometimes recommend that boards conduct a meeting over again if a provision of the Sunshine Law was violated.  In this instance, BLNR stated that it would be sure to allow for public testimony at all future BLNR public briefings.  And, there was a subsequent BLNR meeting at which the public was allowed to testify on the same two matters that were discussed at the briefing on June 13, 2013.  As such, BLNR had already taken the corrective action that OIP would have recommended.  OIP instead recommended that BLNR members and support staff review OIP’s Sunshine Law training materials available on OIP’s website.