Hawaii Sunshine Law

Amends the sunshine law to exempt 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 open
 2 meetings, or sunshine law, as set forth in chapter 92 of the
 3 Hawaii Revised Statutes, was enacted to protect the public
 4 interest by opening the formation of public policy and the
 5 conduct of government to public scrutiny and participation.  The
 6 legislature, however, because of its unique lawmaking function,
 7 is not subject along with other governmental agencies and boards
 8 to the requirements of chapter 92.  Chapter 92 allows each
 9 chamber of the legislature to provide for public scrutiny and
10 participation through its internal rules.
11      The legislative process by its very nature requires
12 exemption from the open meeting laws.  For example, in each
13 chamber of the legislature, more than two thousand bills are
14 introduced each session.  Given the volume of bills, and the
15 multiciplicity and complexity of the issues presented, it would
16 be impossible to hold hearings on every bill introduced.
17      Although the county councils are legislative bodies that,
18 like the state legislature, carry a heavy, complex workload, the
19 county councils are not afforded the same legislative exemption 

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 1 under the sunshine law.  Under the law, council members must file
 2 a hearing notice and hold a public hearing in order to discuss
 3 any issue under their jurisdiction, no matter how technical the
 4 issue, or how minute.  As a result of the formality mandated by
 5 the sunshine law, communication between county council members is
 6 discouraged and it is difficult for council members to fully
 7 discuss and deliberate issues before taking action.  This acts to
 8 the detriment of the public interest, and also unduly prolongs
 9 the process and delays council action.  The legislature
10 recognizes that although under certain circumstances delays and
11 formality are justified by the benefits of active public
12 participation, there is a definite need to provide county
13 councils with the flexibility to establish public access
14 guidelines tailored to encourage effective council functioning
15 through full discussion and deliberation of the issues, as well
16 as efficient and timely action.
17      The purpose of this Act is to allow the county councils to
18 prescribe and enforce through internal rules and procedures,
19 public meeting requirements that open the council legislative
20 process to public scrutiny and participation.
21      SECTION 2.  Section 92-10, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
22 amended to read as follows:

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                                     H.B. NO.           

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