Sunshine Law Meetings Can Be Teleconferenced

Posted on May 8, 2012 in What's New

May 8, 2012

On May 1, 2012, the Hawaii Legislature passed out SB 2737, S.D. 1, H.D. 2, C.D. 1, which expands the Sunshine Law’s videoconference provision to allow teleconference meetings, thus eliminating the need for video coverage. SB 2737 drops the current requirement in HRS section 92-3.5 that a board have both an audio and video connection among all locations to begin a public meeting, and it would now allow board meetings by audio connection alone.

The bill generally retains the existing requirement that members attend a meeting only from public locations listed in the notice; however, the bill does create an exception allowing “a board member with a disability that limits or impairs the member’s ability to physically attend the meeting” to attend via teleconference or videoconference from aprivate location not open to the public. A disabled member attending from a private location must identify the location and any persons present at that location with the member.

The bill uses the term “interactive conference technology” to describe the type of connection to be used, and defines it to include videoconference, teleconference, and voice over internet protocol. As a practical matter, since OIP already interprets the current requirement of an audiovisual or audio connection to include voice over internet protocol or other web-based connections, the new definition does not break new ground as far as what conference technologies boards may use to achieve an audio-video or audio connection between meeting sites.

Finally, because the initial proposal was introduced as an Administration measure to reduce fiscal and time constraints and to enable the mostly volunteer boards in our multi-island state to meet their quorum requirements and conduct their business, the Governor is expected to sign the bill, which would go into effect July 1, 2012.

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