Opinion Letter No. 04-01
January 13, 2004
Board Members Discussion of Official Business
Outside of a Duly Noticed Meeting;
A state legislator asked the OIP to investigate the
Landfill Selection Committee’s (“Committee”) compliance
with the Sunshine Law. The Committee is an advisory board established
by the City and County of Honolulu (“City”) to assist
in the selection of Oahu’s future landfill. According to the
City, the Committee is subject to the Sunshine law. The legislator,
who was also a member of the Committee, alleged that, outside of
a properly noticed meeting, a Committee member solicited and obtained
signatures on documents related to the decision making function
of the Committee.
The OIP opined that the general rule is that discussion
among board members concerning matters over which the board has
supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power and that are
before or are reasonably expected to come before the board outside
of a duly noticed meeting violates the Sunshine Law. However, that
is not the case if the discussion is authorized as a permitted interaction
under the Sunshine Law. See Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-2.5 (Supp.
Upon a review of the record, the OIP noted that members had voted,
via e-mail, concerning matters over which the board has supervision,
control, jurisdiction or advisory power and that were before or
were reasonably expected to come before the board. Section 92-5(b),
HRS, states that electronic communications cannot be used to circumvent
the spirit or requirements of the Sunshine law or to make a decision
upon a matter concerning official board business.
The OIP therefore found that the e-mail violated
the Sunshine Law. Nevertheless, the OIP noted that it believes that
using e-mail for routine, administrative matters such as scheduling
purposes may be permissible under the Sunshine Law.