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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

HB 2730

Relating to
Legal Requirements for Neighborhood Board Meetings

House Committee on Judiciary (JUD) - chair: Waters, vice chair: Oshiro

Tuesday, February 5, 2008, 2:00 p.m. Conference Room 325

Testifier: Jean Aoki, League of Women Voters of Hawaii

Click here to view HB2730

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii has concerns about one section of this bill, but can accept some sections with some amendments.

In regard to Section 1 of this bill, Chapter 92-A, (c) beginning on line 15 of the first page addresses the issue of public input on matters not on the agenda. We have never had a problem with that. Quite a few of our members have served on neighborhood boards and many others are serving today. Many of us have sat through hours of testimony, discussions, and reports and appreciate the opportunity afforded ordinary citizens to air their views or to bring their concerns about problems in their immediate neighborhoods to the attention of their boards. We suggest that at the subsequent meeting testimony be allowed even by those who have testified at the first meeting. We would like an amendment to propose that all testimony be allowed at the following meeting. This allows people who may have concerns about the issue raised to comment on the matter before the board takes action.

We are proposing an amendment to the last paragraph in chapter 92-A which ends on line 13 on page two of the bill. The last sentence reads, “A neighborhood board may receive information or testimony on a matter of official board business without a quorum; provided that the board shall not make a decision on the issue.” We propose an addition to that sentence to read, “and provided that those testimonies on the issue will be allowed again at the following meeting at which time the decision will be made.”

We have no problem with chapter 92-B (a). However, we are quite concerned about 92-B (b) allowing members to participate in discussions, especially among themselves, despite the stated restriction that there be no deliberation or commitment relating to a vote on the issue. There are all kinds of ways to come to some understanding among themselves without explicitly voicing agreement. This is unacceptable.

Chapter 92-C addresses unanticipated events which demand attention by the board, even if they are not on the agenda of a scheduled meeting. It is true that this might occur from time to time. To be sure that only that which really demands immediate attention is addressed at such meetings, we would like line 16, page 3 to be changed by adding the word “urgently” between the words “is” and “necessary” and an explanation at the end of the sentence so that it reads, “...action on the matter is urgently necessary for public health, welfare, and safety” followed by the words “if time does not allow for it to be addressed by an emergency meeting scheduled pursuant to section 92-8.”

With the proposed changes, we would be comfortable with this bill, except for Chapter 92-B (b). Thank you for the opportunity to testify on H.B. 2730.


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