2000 Legislative Wrap-Up: Information Practices
Recent OIP Opinion: Persons Named in Criminal Law Enforcement Investigations
Notes from the Editor
During the 2000 Legislative Session, the Office of Information Practices
(OIP) reviewed over 400 legislative initiatives for their effect
on government information practices. The bills listed below, unless
otherwise noted, passed both houses of the Legislature and were
enacted by the Governor. Some of these new laws will create substantive
changes in information practices in the State
Ten Working Days to Respond
SB 2927 SD1 (signed into law as Act 254) clarifies that agencies
have ten working days from the date of receipt of request by the
agency to respond to a request for personal records under section
State Internet Portal
SB 2838 SD1 HD1 CD1 (Act 292) establishes an oversight committee
to be known as the Access Hawaii Committee to review and approve
the development and operation of an Internet portal for electronic
Reporters of Child Abuse
Under HB 3018 SD1 (Act 248), those persons who are required by law
to report child abuse or neglect may now report to either the Police
Department or the Department of Human Services rather than both.
Working Papers of the Auditor
SB 3045 SD1 HD2 CD1 (Act 275) authorizes the auditor to refuse disclosure
of documents collected and developed in the course of the auditor’s
investigations under a working papers privilege. Limits the scope
of waiver of the privilege only to documents that are disclosed.
Open Meetings by Videoconference
SB 2924 SD1 HD1 (Act 284) assists boards and commissions that are
subject to Chapter 92, HRS, in holding meetings by videoconference
by eliminating a rulemaking requirement.
The 2000 Legislature reconvened for a special session on August
7 to address concerns about the new medical records privacy law
(Chapter 323C, Hawaii Revised Statutes), and was expected to postpone
the effective date of the law from July 1, 2000, to July 1, 2001.
For more details, see the July-August 2000 issue of Openline.
Privacy of Health Care Information
SB 2254 SD1 HD2 CD1 (Act 140) clarifies the general rules regarding
use and disclosure of protected health care information, and also
establishes a Medical Privacy Task Force.
HB 1491 HD1 SD1 CD1 (Act 91) permits use of an administrative subpoena
issued by the attorney general or trial subpoena to obtain records
or other information pertaining to a subscriber or customer of a
provider of electronic communications or remote computing services.
Clarifies information to be obtained. Makes housekeeping amendments
to sections 323C-38 and 622-52, HRS, relating to subpoenas of health
SB 2151 SD1 HD1 CD1 (Act 127) provides that the chief of police
may seize all permits, firearms, and ammunition upon an owner’s
disqualification from ownership, possession, or control of firearms
Act 127 also requires a health care provider or public
health authority to disclose health information, including protected
health information, relating to an individual’s mental health
history, to the appropriate county chief of police in response to
a request for the information from the chief of police, provided
that: (1) the information shall be used only for the purposes of
evaluating the individual’s fitness to acquire or own a firearm;
and (2) the individual has signed a waiver permitting release of
the health information for that purpose.
Some Bills that Did Not Pass
Moving OIP to the Legislature
S.B. 2353 would have moved the Office of Information Practices to
the Legislature, placing it within the Office of the Ombudsman.
The OIP remains administratively attached to the Office of the Lieutenant
Governor. Before July 1, 1998, the OIP was administratively attached
to the Department of the Attorney General.
HB 1877 would have established the Hawaii Information Privacy Act,
concerning the commercial use of personal information.
Public Employee Health Benefits
HB 1869 would have created an employer-union trust fund administered
by a board of directors and held outside the state treasury. The
board would not be subject to the notice requirements of the sunshine
law. This would have created a new exception to the open meetings
SB 2523 would have placed a 25-cent cap on government copying fees
and made copying fees uniform through state and county agencies.
Hate Crimes Data
SB 2429 would have provided a reporting mechanism to compile, track,
and analyze hate crimes data.
Recent OIP Opinion: Persons
Named in Criminal Law Enforcement Investigations
The Department of Land and Natural Resources Conservation and Resources
Enforcement Division ("DOCARE") is vested with criminal
law enforcement powers under chapter 199, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
DOCARE provided a member of the public with a redacted copy of an
investigation conducted into whether Maui County Fire Department
personnel had illegally caught lobster out of season while on duty.
All information that would allow identification of individuals named
in the report was redacted. DOCARE asserted disclosure of their
identities would be a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
The OIP followed the federal premise that identities
of persons and suspects named in criminal investigations carry significant
privacy interests, which, in most cases, outweigh the public interest
in disclosure. These privacy interests are diminished once an arrest
has been made; however, in this case no one was ever implicated
as a suspect, nor charged with a crime. Therefore, DOCARE properly
redacted the identities of persons named in its report before disclosing
it publicly. [OIP Op. Ltr. No. 99-9, Dec. 3, 1999]
The Office of Information Practices welcomes new staff attorney
Jennifer Brooks. Jennifer, who comes to the OIP from the Senate
Judiciary Committee, is drafting rules and assisting with the inquiries
about the new medical records privacy law. Jennifer is a graduate
of Harvard; Trinity College, Dublin; and William and Mary Law School.
The OIP moved at the end of May from the Leiopapa a Kamehameha Building
(State Office Tower) to new office space in what is often called
the Hemmeter Building. Our new address is: No. 1 Capitol District
Building, 250 S. Hotel Street, Suite 107, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.
Our telephone and fax numbers remain the same.
The next issue of Openline will focus on Hawaii’s Medical
Records Privacy Law, with guidance and news about the community/government/business
task force that is working on compliance and rules . . . The issue
will also feature summaries of recent opinion letters . . .
You may have noticed a different look to this Openline
. . . If you are at all like us you were ready for a new look, new
fonts, new graphics . . . Moving to a new office has changed our
view of the world, literally, so it seems like the perfect time
to reformat the newsletter . . . The OIP will continue its commitment
to sharing information, both through its paper publications and
through its growing web site . . . Thank you for your patience!