Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act

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The Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) is the law that governs access to public records in Hawaii. The law was first enacted in 1975.

The Hawaii Sunshine Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see Hawaii FOIA procedures.

Relevant legal cases

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA

Here is a list of lawsuits in Hawaii (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year, please click the icon to the right of the "year" heading).


Lawsuit Year
Burnham Broadcasting Co. v. County of Hawaii 1992
Kamakana v. City & County of Honolulu 2006


Proposed changes

2011

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2011


We do not currently have any legislation for Hawaii in 2011.


2010

See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2010


We have no current bill pages for Hawaii from 2010. This may be due to incomplete research.


2009

House

House Bill 496 sought to require the legislature to follow the sunshine law. Companion bill was SB 681.[1]

House Bill 1088 sought to expand ability of a board or commission to facilitate public meetings through available interactive conferencing technology. Companion bill was SB 906.[2]

House Bill 1146 sought to allow board or committee members to hear public testimony and presentations scheduled for a public meeting even if the meeting is canceled due to lack of quorum.[3]

House Bill 1148 sought to authorize the electronic filing of meeting notices on the state calendar. Companion bill was SB 966.[4]

House Bill 1530 sought to allow fees for public records to be waived if the Office of Information Practices judges that it would serve the public interest. Companion bill was SB 1646.[5]

House Bill 1596 sough to apply the "sunshine law" to administrative and other non-adjudicative functions of the judiciary. Companion bill was SB677.[6]

Senate

Senate Bill 496 sought to clarify the functions, duties and roles of the charter school review panel in the administration and operation of charter schools; to improve fiscal and budgetary accountability; and to clarify that the panel is subject to the requirements of the sunshine law.[7]

Senate Bill 677 sought to apply the "sunshine law" to administrative and other non-adjudicative functions of the judiciary. Companion bill was HB1596.[8]

Senate Bill 681 sought to require the legislature to follow the sunshine law. Companion bill was HB 496.[9]

Senate Bill 906 sought to expand the ability of a board or commission to facilitate public meetings through available interactive conferencing technology. Companion bill was HB 1088.[10]

Senate Bill 966 sought to authorize the electronic filing of meeting notices on the state calendar. Companion bill was HB 1148.[11]

Senate Bill 1646 sought to allow fees for public records to be waived if the Office of Information Practices judges that it would serve the public interest. Companion bill was HB 1530.[12]

Senate Bill 1658 sought to make clarifying amendments related to permissible interactions of board members and notice requirements of continued board meetings.[13]

The status of these bills can be followed here: Hawaii State Legislature Bill Status and Documents.

Transparency report card

A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Hawaii #3 in the nation with an overall percentage of 62.30%.[14]

A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Hawaii 44 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F" and a ranking of 29 out of the 50 states.[15]

A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Hawaii's law as the 28th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "D+."[16]

Features of the law

Sunshine variations Compare States: Sunshine variations
Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.

Declared legal intention

See also: Declared legal intentions across the U.S.
"In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power. Government agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the government processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public's interest. Therefore the legislature declares that it is the policy of this State that the formation and conduct of public policy—the discussions, deliberations, decisions, and action of government agencies—shall be conducted as openly as possible.

The policy of conducting government business as openly as possible must be tempered by a recognition of the right of the people to privacy, as embodied in section 6 and section 7 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii.

This chapter shall be applied and construed to promote its underlying purposes and policies, which are to:

(1) Promote the public interest in disclosure;
(2) Provide for accurate, relevant, timely, and complete government records;
(3) Enhance governmental accountability through a general policy of access to government records;
(4) Make government accountable to individuals in the collection, use, and dissemination of information relating to them; and
(5) Balance the individual privacy interest and the public access interest, allowing access unless it would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. [L 1988, c 262, pt of §1]"[17]

What records are covered?

See also: Defining public records

Records include all materials maintained in government offices and agencies, including all records whether they be "written, auditory, visual, electronic or other physical form."[18]

Exemptions

Exemptions include:

  • Records that constitute an invasion of privacy with the exception that:
  • No record can constitute an invasion of privacy if the public benefit gained outweighs the individual benefit gained form privacy.[19]
  • Records of current judicial proceedings of which the agency receiving the request is a part.
  • "Government records that, by their nature, must be confidential in order for the government to avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function."[20]
  • "Inchoate and draft working papers of legislative committees, including budget worksheets and un-filed committee reports; work product; records or transcripts of an investigating committee of the legislature which are closed by rules adopted pursuant to section 21-4 and the personal files of members of the legislature."[21]

Deliberative process exemption

See also: Deliberative process exemption and Deliberative process exemption - Hawaii

What agencies are covered?

See also: Defining public body

"Agency" means any unit of government in the state, any county or any combination of counties; department; institution; board; commission; district; council; bureau; office; governing authority; other instrumentality of state or county government; or corporation or other establishment owned, operated or managed by or on behalf of the state or any county, but does not include the nonadministrative functions of the courts of the state.[18]

Legislature

See also: Legislatures and transparency

The Hawaii state legislature falls under the broad working definition of public body in Hawaii, thereby subjecting it to the Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act.

Private governmental agencies

See also: Private agency, public dollars and Private agency, public dollars - Hawaii

Hawaiian law considers private entities to be public bodies and subject to the UIPA when they are controlled or managed by a public entity.

Public universities

See also: Universities and open records

The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state.

Who may request records?

See also: List of who can make public record requests by state

Public records are open to inspection by "any person."[22]

Must a purpose be stated?

See also: States requiring a statement of purpose

Hawaiian law does not require the statement of a purpose.

How can records be used?

See also: Record use restrictions

There is nothing in the UIPA that restricts the use of open records.

Time allowed for response

See also: Request response times by state

Hawaiian law allows for 10 business days to respond to records requests.[23]

Fees for records

See also: How much do public records cost? and Sunshine laws and search fees

Hawaiian law does not outline details about copy fees, but requires agencies to provide facilities for duplication and memorandum creation. The act implies that agencies may charge for the cost of duplication. Pre-payment of fees may be required for:

  • 50% of the fees associated with the search and preparation of records.
  • 100% of other fees, including copy fees.
  • 100% of fees owed for past requests.[24]

Hawaiian law permits agencies to charge search fees for the cost of collecting, separating and preparing records for duplication. The law outlines very specific fees to be charged for the following services:

  • Search and retrieval: $2.50/15 minutes
  • Review and segregation: $5/15 minutes
  • 100% of any charge assessed to the department by an outside source hired to assist in the retrieval of records.

Agencies may not charge for the first $30 of any records request. Some agencies are designated to set their own fee schedule but may only charge fees to account for the actual cost of all of the above services.[25]

Waiver

Fees may be waived when the body determines that the request was made in the public interest. The request is considered to be made in the public interest if:

  1. The request pertains to the activities of the public agency.
  2. The request is not already readily available to the public.
  3. The requester demonstrates the ability and intention to widely disseminate the information to the public.[26]

Records commissions and ombudsmen

See also: State records commissions

The Hawaii Office of Information Practices was established in 1988 to administer and enforce the Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act.

Role of the Attorney General

See also: Role of the Attorney General

There is currently no provision within the state open records law that empowers the State Department of Law to enforce the right of the public to access governmental records.

Open meetings

"In a democracy, the people are vested with the ultimate decision-making power. Governmental agencies exist to aid the people in the formation and conduct of public policy. Opening up the governmental processes to public scrutiny and participation is the only viable and reasonable method of protecting the public's interest. Therefore, the legislature declares that it is the policy of this State that the formation and conduct of public policy - the discussions, deliberations, decisions, and action of governmental agencies - shall be conducted as openly as possible."[27]

See also

External links

References