Public meetings.

Allows open meeting requirements and provisions regarding the
enforcement, penalties, and sanctions applicable to county
councils to be governed by the internal rules and procedures of
the county councils.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.           
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that Hawaii's sunshine
 2 law, chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statutes, was enacted to ensure
 3 that the formation and conduct of public policy is open to public
 4 scrutiny and participation.
 5      Because of the unique nature of legislative bodies, compared
 6 to other governmental agencies and boards, the legislature
 7 provided itself an exemption from the requirements of chapter 92.
 8 With regards to open meeting requirements, the law allows each
 9 chamber of the legislature to regulate their own enforcement,
10 penalties, and sanctions.
11      Although it would be ideal for lawmakers to hold hearings on
12 every bill introduced, this would be impossible given the volume
13 of measures and the complexity of issues they face during the
14 legislative calendar.  As many as two thousand bills are
15 introduced in each chamber of the legislature each session.
16 While some of these bills may be technical in nature, the vast
17 majority deal with issues of concern for the people of Hawaii.
18      While county councils have similar workloads and often face
19 the same kind of time constraints as the legislature, county

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                                     H.B. NO.           

 1 councils are not afforded the same exemption under the sunshine
 2 law.  As a result, county councils must hold public hearings
 3 whenever any issue under their jurisdiction is discussed.  A
 4 recent attorney general opinion stated that if two council
 5 members choose to discuss an issue under the council's
 6 jurisdiction, a public hearing notice must be filed and the
 7 discussion must be held only at a meeting open to the public.
 8      Since, unlike the legislature, county councils are subject
 9 to the open meeting requirements of chapter 92, the legislative
10 process is prolonged.  In addition, this restricts the ability of
11 county councils to fully deliberate on issues before taking
12 action.  The legislature believes that there is a need to provide
13 county councils with the flexibility to set their own meeting
14 requirements--requirements that realistically follow the spirit
15 of the sunshine law.
16      The purpose of this Act is to allow open meeting
17 requirements and provisions regarding the enforcement, penalties,
18 and sanctions applicable to county councils to be governed by the
19 internal rules and procedures of each county council.  However,
20 it is the intent of the legislature that this Act should not be
21 construed to infringe upon the rights of citizens to open
22 government as provided in chapter 92.

Page 3                                         447         
                                     H.B. NO.           

 1      SECTION 2.  Section 92-10, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 2 amended to read as follows:
 3      "92-10  Legislative branch; applicability.  Notwithstanding
 4 any provisions contained in this chapter to the contrary, open
 5 meeting requirements, and provisions regarding enforcement,
 6 penalties and sanctions, as they are to relate to the state
 7 legislature or the county councils, or to any of [its] their
 8 respective members, shall be [such as shall be from time to time]
 9 prescribed by the respective rules and procedures of the senate
10 [and], the house of representatives, and each county council,
11 which rules and procedures shall take precedence over this part.
12 Similarly, provisions relating to notice, agenda, and minutes of
13 meetings, and [such] other requirements as may be necessary,
14 shall also be governed by the respective rules and procedures of
15 the senate [and], the house of representatives[.], and each
16 county councils."
17      SECTION 3.  Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed.
18 New statutory material is underscored.
19      SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
21                           INTRODUCED BY:  _______________________