© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Hawaiʻi panel discusses vetoed open records measure

Hawaiʻi state House of Representatives jan
Audrey McAvoy/AP
The Hawaiʻi House of Representatives meets on opening day of the legislative session at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol in Honolulu on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

Open record advocates were disappointed when a bill that would have decreased costs for records was vetoed by Gov. David Ige last month.

"I see it many times a month, in which a requester will drop something because it's just, it's going to cost too much," said Brian Black, the executive director of the Civil Beat Law Center.

At the last Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct meeting, Black offered insight to members on how open records laws impact how people request.

"If you say it's going to cost X amount, and X amount is beyond their budget, they’ll give up, just give up period. But if you say that it's going to take me a year to get you all of this stuff that you're asking for, then then they can come back and they say, OK, well, that's a dialogue, that's a discussion that can be had about narrowing it down," he said.

The now struck-down Senate Bill 3252 would have adopted the federal public interest standard, which defines who qualifies for fee waivers. But some worried it would have opened up a flood gate of requests.

The Office of Information Practices offers sunshine law advice to the public, state and county agencies, boards and commissions. Director Cheryl Park disagrees with Black’s characterization of the bill.

"The language was very, I think, confusing and contradictory to what we were already recognizing for the fee waiver under the UIPA, so we had a problem with some of that," Park said.

She said her office is the appropriate place to address issues.

"There is a process already in place. And a lot of things that people want to go and have a law for actually should be done through our rules and are being done through our rules," Park said.

Black holds out hope.

"And I hope that this commission will recommend again that this bill move forward, and that the Legislature take it up again with the new governor, whoever that is. This bill will empower those who are really dedicated to ferreting out corruption," Black said.

Sabrina Bodon is Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter. Contact her at sbodon@hawaiipublicradio.org or 808-792-8252.
Related Stories