Report Title:

Office of Consumer Protection; Consumer Complaints; Public Access



Prohibits the Office of Consumer Protection from making consumer complaints publicly available in cases where the complaint was resolved in favor of the business against which the complaint was filed.



H.B. NO.














relating to consumer protection.





SECTION 1. Section 487-5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"487-5 General functions, powers, and duties. The director of the office of consumer protection is designated the consumer counsel for the State and shall represent and protect the State, the respective counties, and the general public as consumers. The director of the office of consumer protection shall have the following functions, powers, and duties:

(1) Coordinate the consumer protection activities of all departments, divisions, and branches of state government, and of branches of the county government concerned with consumer protection;

(2) Assist, advise, and cooperate with federal, state, and local agencies and officials to protect and promote the interests of the consumer public;

(3) Conduct investigations, research, studies, and analysis of matters and take appropriate action affecting the interests of consumers;

(4) Study the operation of laws affecting consumers and recommend to the governor and the legislature, new laws and amendments of laws in the consumers' interest;

(5) Adopt, amend, or repeal rules pursuant to chapter 91 necessary for the purposes of this chapter, including rules which define with specificity acts or practices which are unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce;

(6) Investigate reported or suspected violations of laws enacted and rules adopted for the purpose of consumer protection and shall enforce such laws and rules by bringing civil actions or proceedings;

(7) Organize and hold conferences on problems affecting consumers; and undertake activities to encourage business and industry to maintain high standards of honesty, fair business practices, and public responsibility in the production, promotion, and sale of consumer goods and services;

(8) Provide a central clearinghouse of information by collecting and compiling all consumer complaints and inquiries and making the collections and compilations available to the general public; provided that consumer complaints [may] shall not be made available to the general public if [the]:

(A) The office of consumer protection is conducting an investigation or review of the complaints[, or if the];

(B) The complaints are being used in connection with civil actions or proceedings initiated by the office of consumer protection[, or if the];

(C) The complaints have been referred to another state agency; or

(D) The complaints have been investigated and resolved by the office in favor of the person against whom the complaint was filed. The office shall immediately remove public access to all information regarding any complaint falling under this subparagraph;

(9) Appear before governmental commissions, departments, and agencies to represent and be heard on behalf of consumers' interest;

(10) Contract with other county, state, or federal governmental agencies, with nonprofit social services societies, or with private nonprofit trade, professional, or business organizations for the performance of any of the functions of the office not involving the enforcement of rules for the purpose of consumer protection under this section, within the budget limitations for any period not exceeding a budget year, provided that the purposes and policies of this chapter are in no way diluted, abridged, misdirected, or destroyed; and

(11) Perform such other acts as may be incidental to the exercise of the functions, powers, and duties set forth in this section, including but not limited to, compensation of witnesses in such amounts and for such purposes as shall be prescribed by rules."

SECTION 2. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.