S Memo 22-01

Posted on Apr 28, 2022 in Informal Opinions - Sunshine Law

S Memo 22-01
April 28, 2022
Timely Filing of Meeting Notice

A member of the public complained that the Honolulu City Council (COUNCIL-HON) did not timely post notice of its meeting on February 17, 2021, to the City’s electronic calendar as required by the Sunshine Law, part I of chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS).  Section 92-7(b), HRS, requires that notice be posted to an electronic calendar and by other methods six calendar days before the meeting, and section 92-7(e), HRS, requires that notice be mailed or emailed six calendar days before the meeting to everyone who so requests.  However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Ige issued a series of emergency proclamations that included partial suspensions of the Sunshine Law.  Two emergency proclamations covered the time period complained of, and both proclamations contained identical language that suspended the Sunshine Law “to the extent necessary to enable boards as defined in Section 92-2, to conduct meetings without any board members or members of the public physically present in the same location.”  These emergency proclamations stated that, with regard to the Sunshine Law’s notice requirements, “[n]otice of meetings must be electronically posted and electronically provided to notification lists consistent with section 92-7; however, posting [of notice] at the site of the meeting or at a centralized location in a public building is not required.”

The emergency proclamations only required COUNCIL-HON to timely post its meeting notices on an electronic calendar maintained by the City and to electronically send it to people on its email list.  Upon review of the evidence provided by COUNCIL-HON, OIP found that COUNCIL-HON properly posted notice for its meeting on February 17, 2021, by posting the notice on the Honolulu City Council Calendar and by sending electronic notice to people on its email list six calendar days before the meeting on February 11, 2021, as required by section 92-7(b) and (e), HRS, and subject to the partial suspension of the Sunshine Law in effect at the time.  OIP further found that COUNCIL HON went beyond the requirements of the emergency proclamations and also posted timely notice on COUNCIL HON’s website, filed it with the Honolulu City Clerk (City Clerk), and posted paper copies on bulletin boards in Honolulu Hale in accordance with section 92-7(b), HRS, all on February 11, 2021.