From Office of Information Practices, January, 2022
Early in 2020, in response to the COVID-19 emergency, Hawaii’s Uniform Information Practices Act (Modified), chapter 92F, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) (the UIPA), was temporarily suspended in its entirety by an emergency proclamation of Governor David Ige. Because the UIPA was suspended in its entirety, OIP’s powers and duties found in part IV of chapter 92F, HRS, were also suspended. Subsequent proclamations restored OIP’s powers and duties found in part IV of the UIPA, except that the UIPA and OIP’s rules were “suspended to the extent they contain any deadlines for agencies, including deadlines for the OIP, relating to requests for government records and/or complaints to OIP.” On August 5, 2021, Governor David Ige issued a proclamation that contained no suspension of the UIPA, and all subsequent COVID-19 proclamations have not contained any UIPA suspensions. This means that the UIPA and all of its deadlines are in full effect.
The Sunshine Law, part I of chapter 92, HRS, has also been partially suspended since early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 emergency. The Governor’s Emergency Proclamation Related to COVID-19 dated November 29, 2021, mostly continued prior partial suspensions of the Sunshine Law to allow for remote meetings with no in-person locations, but it expires at 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2021.
On January 1, 2022, Act 220 (2021 Regular Session) becomes effective. Act 220 makes permanent changes to the Sunshine Law to allow remote meetings that have been permitted through the emergency proclamations during the pandemic. Once Act 220 becomes effective, boards are required to have at least one in-person meeting site for remote meetings where the public can attend and testify. Boards and board staff are urged to review OIP’s summary of Act 220 and OIP’s recently revised website training materials on the Sunshine Law’s new requirements.
However, on December 29, 2021, the Governor signed the Emergency Proclamation Related To Sunshine Law In-Person Meetings (Proclamation) suspending section 92-3.7, HRS, (effective January 1, 2022) only to the extent necessary to suspend Act 220’s requirement to have at least one meeting location that is open to the public. All other provisions of Act 220 remain in force. The Proclamation is in effect through February 28, 2022, unless terminated or superseded by a separate proclamation, whichever shall occur first.
OIP will strive to answer questions about the UIPA and Sunshine Law through our Attorney of the Day service. For fastest service, questions should be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. While email remains the preferred method of contact, OIP can also be reached by phone at (808) 586-1400, fax at (808) 586-1412, or postal mail at 250 S. Hotel Street, Suite 107, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813.
OIP cannot accept appeals based on causes of action dependent on alleged violations of the portions of the Sunshine Law that are suspended and therefore not in effect.
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GOVERNOR IGE SIGNS EMERGENCY PROCLAMATION, ALLOWS VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETINGS TO CONTINUE AS COVID-19 CASES RISE
News Release from Office of the Governor, Dec 30, 2021
HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige has signed an emergency proclamation temporarily suspending an upcoming provision in Hawaiʻi’s Sunshine Law that would have mandated at least one in-person location be held for public meetings.
Act 220, SLH 2021, which was passed and signed by the governor earlier this year, allows meetings to be conducted remotely, while still requiring at least one in-person meeting location.
Due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Ige is temporarily suspending that in-person meeting location requirement in an effort to continue mitigating the spread of COVID-19. This limited suspension ensures that government entities can continue conducting public meetings online, consistent with the important transparency requirements of Hawaiʻi’s Sunshine Law. All other provisions of Act 220 will take effect as planned on Jan. 1, 2022.
The proclamation will remain in effect through Feb. 28, 2022, unless terminated or superseded by a separate proclamation.
Link to emergency proclamation here.
CB: The emergency proclamation means virtual meetings of government boards can continue but without an in-person location.