Opinion Letter No. 01-06
December 31, 2001
The Public's Right to Testify on Agenda Items, and Agenda Requirements,
A member of the City Council requested an opinion
regarding compliance by the Honolulu Liquor
Commission ("Liquor Commission") with part I of chapter
92, Hawaii Revised Statutes ("Sunshine
Law"). The OIP found that the agenda for the meeting held April
9, 1998, failed to notify the public
that the Liquor Commission would deliberate or decide on a set of
proposed rule revisions previously
considered on December 10, 1997.
The Liquor Commission held separate meetings on March 19, 1998 and
April 9, 1998. The OIP
found that the Liquor Commission, at its April 9 meeting, violated
the Sunshine Law by prohibiting
public testimony on the agenda item listed as "Decision-making
on Proposed rules of the Liquor
Commission (Continued from March 19, 1998)."
Even when the public has had an opportunity to testify on an agenda
item at a previous meeting, the
Sunshine Law requires a board to afford interested members of the
public an opportunity to present
oral or written testimony on any agenda item at every meeting.
The OIP found no conflict between sections 91-3 and 92-3, HRS. Section
91-3, which requires a
public hearing as part of the rulemaking process, does not prohibit
an agency from accepting public
testimony on the date the agency announces its decision as to proposed
rule revisions. Thus, it is
possible for a board to follow both section 91-3 and the Sunshine
Law without violating either.
Further, a board subject to the Sunshine Law may make its decision
on proposed rule revisions at a
later date than the public hearing without hearing further public
testimony during its decision making, by continuing the decision
making portion of the public hearing or meeting to a reasonable
date and time as provided by section 92-7(d), HRS.