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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

SB 1646

Relating to
Freedom of Information

Senate Committee on Judiciary and Government Operations (JGO) - chair: Taniguchi, vice chair: Takamine

Monday, March 2, 2009, 10:00 A.M. Conference Room 016

Testifier: Jean Aoki, LWV of Hawaii Legislative Liaison

Click here to view SB1646

Chair Taniguchi, Vice Chair Takamine, members of JGO,

The League of Women Voters strongly supports SB 1646 which sensibly gives the Office of Information practices not only administrative responsibilities but enforcement powers over the Sunshine Law. Going through the Attorney General's Office or even to the courts for relief is too daunting for most citizens. This bill still does not take away the right from anyone to appeal to the courts if not satisfied by the decision of OIP.

A reminder to agencies that copies of records should be provided with reasonable charges for the cost of searching, redacting if necessary, and copying is most welcome. The fees should not be used to deter people from seeking information they want or need.

This bill provides that fees be waived if it determines that the public's interest is served by a waiver. There is the provision that the waivers must not unduly disrupt operations of the agency. Together, these provisions may both respect the major responsibilities of the agencies while easing the access to information by the public.

At the federal level, many good-government groups together urged our new president and our incoming congress 'to act quickly on a number if key government openness issues. They asked the president to for bold leadership in encouraging transparency. Among many many other points, they called for a policy that urges agencies to proactively disclose information where possible rather than waiting for Freedom of Information Act requests. We heartily endorse all that.

Thank you for hearing SB1646. We urge its passage. Thank you.


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