One of the duties of the state Office of Information Practices (OIP) is to monitor and testify on legislative proposals and make recommendations to the Legislature. OIP tracks proposals directly or indirectly affecting the UIPA, Sunshine Law, or open data issues, including proposals on other topics that have confidentiality provisions or exemptions from the UIPA or Sunshine Law. For the 2020 legislative session to date, OIP has done a word search of all bills that were introduced, has been monitoring 146 bills, and has testified 34 times on 25 bills.
The non-budget legislative proposals that survived the first half of the 2020 session were decked on February 28, 2020, so here is a summary of the two open government bills that continue to be alive for legislative consideration in the second half. Seven proposals addressing other topics where OIP testified on confidentiality provisions, board-specific Sunshine Law exemptions, or other language of concern are also still alive but are not listed here; one of those has already been amended to address OIP’s concerns. The bills listed below directly affect the UIPA or Sunshine Law, and OIP will continue to testify on them for the remainder of the session.
S.B. 2038, S.D. 1 – Relating to Board Members. Permits one or more board members to attend ceremonial addresses for the State of the City, State of the County, State of the State, or State of the Judiciary, provided that the board members do not discuss board business except during and as part of the event and no commitment to vote is made or sought. OIP supports this bill.
S.B. 2090, S.D. 1 – Relating to Judicial Enforcement of the Uniform Information Practices Act. Amends the UIPA to apply the “palpably erroneous” standard of appellate review to a circuit court decision in favor of a record requester; to shift the burden to move UIPA litigation forward from the record requester plaintiff to the defending agency; and to bypass the Intermediate Court of Appeals and implicitly provide for a direct appeal to the Supreme Court from circuit court decisions compelling disclosure of records under the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA), HRS Chapter 92F. OIP is concerned that the “palpably erroneous” standard of review is inappropriate for appeals from circuit court decisions and that an unintended consequence will be to dilute the “palpably erroneous” standard as applied to agency appeals from OIP decisions in favor of a record requester, which will ultimately be to the detriment of the public. To see the actual proposals, testimony, and legislative status, please go to the Legislature website at capitol.hawaii.gov.