Chair Keith-Agaran, Vice Chair Rhoads, member of the Committee on Judiciary,
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii cannot support HB 1608.
For years, we have had an interest in creating a provision in the Constitution for a Commission on Information Practices, especially to add permanence to the valuable Office of Information Practices.
However, the intent of the author of this bill is not clear. Why are all of the appointing authorities of the commissioners, people who are regulated by the OIP? And why so many commissioners?
The Campaign Spending Commission and the Ethics Commission are both composed of members of the public who apply to be on those boards and who are screened by the Judicial Council who then send up a limited number of names for each vacancy for the Governor to select and appoint to the Commissions. The Ethics Commission is a mandate of the constitution and while it leaves the details of how the commissioners are to be selected to the Legislature, it does declare that “commissioners shall be selected in a manner which assures their independence and impartiality.” And while there is no such provision in the constitution regarding the selection of commisioners for the Campaign Spending Commission, the Legislature, in its wisdom, did follow the same procedures to insure its independence.
The Office of Information Practices needs the independence afforded the other two watch-dog groups
if it is to administer and implement both the sunshine and open records laws. The public needs the assurance that whatever decisions and opinions expressed by the OIP are, they are in the best interest of the public and in the spirit of open government.
We respectfully ask that you amend HB 1608 to insure the commission's independence. Thank you.