Following today’s adjournment of the 2015 session, here is a summary from the state Office of Information Practices (OIP) regarding bills passed by the Hawaii State Legislature that directly relate to OIP or the laws it administers. The bills will be presented to Governor David Ige for his consideration and approval.
HB 461, SD 2, CD 1 – Relating to the Office of Information Practices. Transfers OIP to the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) for administrative purposes only. The bill provides that the DAGS Comptroller shall not have the power to supervise or control OIP’s exercise of its functions, duties, and powers and that OIP can continue to make direct communications with the Governor and Legislature without having to receive anyone’s prior approval. While the transfer’s effective date is delayed until 2016 to give OIP and DAGS sufficient time to work out the logistics, a housekeeping provision clarifying that OIP has the same powers and duties under both the UIPA and Sunshine Law will go into effect upon approval of the bill. OIP looks forward to its continued independence and having a permanent home in 2016.
HB 287, HD 2 – Relating to the Uniform Information Practices Act. Amends HRS § 92F-14(b), which lists examples of a significant privacy interest that may be protected, to add information whose disclosure would create a substantial and demonstrable risk of physical harm to an individual.
SB 419, SD 2, HD 1, CD 1 – Relating to Neighborhood Boards. Although HRS Section 92-82 is not administered by OIP, this bill is significant because it creates a limited exception from the Sunshine Law for neighborhood board members, and it replaces a previous exception that essentially paralleled the Sunshine Law’s permitted interaction allowing less than a quorum of board members to attend an informational meeting. The new provisions allow more than a quorum of neighborhood board members to attend meetings or presentations on Oahu that are open to the public, do not charge a fee or require registration, and are not specifically and exclusively organized for or directed toward board members. While neighborhood board members may ask questions relating to official board business of persons other than their fellow members, they may not make a commitment to vote on any of the issues discussed at such meetings or presentations.
Several other bills that OIP has previously reported on did not make it out of conference. Bills that were considered by conference committees, but did not pass, include:
SB 140, HD 2 – Relating to Government Records. Creates a duty of exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of government records, based on state and county agencies’ record retention schedules.
SB 475, SD 1, HD 2 – Relating to Open Government. Originally written to allow the electronic posting of meeting notices under the Sunshine Law, the bill was subsequently amended to require that the board packets also be provided in advance of the meeting to the general public and persons on a board’s mailing list. Boards expressed concern about the unfunded financial, staffing, and logistical challenges of meeting the additional board packet disclosure provision, which may have required the redaction of confidential or personal information, often received from third parties, during the short and hectic period of time before a meeting.
SB 652, SD 1, HD 2 – Relating to Public Agency Meetings. Originally required boards to report any final action taken during an executive session, providing that the disclosure is not inconsistent with the purpose of convening the closed meeting. The bill was amended to also require disclosure of the “discussions” that took place during a closed executive session.
Bills that did not pass this session will carry over to the 2016 session and can be acted upon next session. All bills, committee reports, and status can be found on the Legislature’s website at capitol.hawaii.gov.
For the latest open government news, check for archived copies of What’s New articles that are posted here, or e-mailed upon request. To be added to OIP’s e-mail list, please e-mail [email protected]. Also, if you would like to receive What’s New articles or attachments in a Word format, please contact OIP at (808) 586-1400 or [email protected].