STAND. COM. REP. NO. 368

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

 

RE: S.B. No. 720

S.D. 1

 

 

 

Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Thirty-Second State Legislature

Regular Session of 2023

State of Hawaii

 

Sir:

 

Your Committee on Government Operations, to which was referred S.B. No. 720 entitled:

 

"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO GOVERNMENT RECORDS,"

 

begs leave to report as follows:

 

The purpose and intent of this measure is to:

 

(1) Add an exception to mandatory disclosure of government records for deliberative and pre-decisional government inter-agency or intra-agency records concerning an agency decision about a government action;

 

(2) Require agencies to report their use of the exception to the Officer of Information Practices from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2027; and

 

(3) Require the Office of Information Practices to convene a working group to examine agency use of the exception and report to the Legislature prior to the Regular Session of 2029.

 

Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Office of Information Practices; Department of Budget and Finance; University of Hawaii System; Honolulu Board of Water Supply; University of Hawaii Professional Assembly; Hawaii Government Employees Association, AFSCME Local 152, AFL-CIO. Your Committee received testimony in opposition to this measure from one individual. Your Committee received comments on this measure from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Employees' Retirement System, League of Women Voters of Hawaii, and Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

 

Your Committee finds that although public participation is not required in all government decisions, timely disclosure of relevant deliberative government records relative to the decision is necessary for meaningful participation, unless an exception applies. Your Committee further finds that there is a delicate balance forged between and amongst experienced practitioners representing media, government, the Office of Information Practices, and the public interest necessary to effectuate sound and considered decisions. Finally, your Committee finds that S.C.R. No. 192, Regular Session of 2022, required a working group to develop recommendations for statutory exceptions to the Uniform Information Practice Act to address the need for deliberative and pre-decisional agency processes and records in decision-making.

 

Your Committee has amended this measure by:

 

(1) Reducing the limit for presumption of an abandoned matter by from three years to two years;

 

(2) Deleting section 5 which would have required the Office of Information Practices to convene a working group by January 1, 2028, and report to the Legislature before the Regular Session of 2029;

 

(3) Inserting an effective date of July 1, 2112, to encourage further discussion; and

 

(4) Making technical, nonsubstantive amendments for the purpose of clarity and consistency.

 

Your Committee finds it interesting that a member of the working group signed the report and did not elect to submit testimony outlining concerns or opposition to this measure, but the member has issued media reports expressly disparaging the working group product and this measure. Your Committee hopes that should your Committee on Judiciary choose to hear this measure, the member of the working group will choose to submit testimony on the measure expressing their opposition or concerns.

 

As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Government Operations that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 720, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 720, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Judiciary.

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Government Operations,

 

 

 

________________________________

ANGUS L.K. MCKELVEY, Chair