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LWV-Hawaii Legislative Testimony

SB 2295, SD1

A Bill for an Act Relating to
Public Meetings

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

Friday, March 28, 2008, 2:00 P.M. Conference Room 325

Testifier: Jean Aoki, Legislative Chair, LWV of Hawaii

Click here to view SB2295, SD1

The League of Women Voters is in strong opposition to SB 2295, S.D.1. If this bill passes and is enacted as law, our sunshine law will have been emasculated.

Discussions by two or more members at meetings other than their own board meetings on matters which are before their own board, discussing their own positions on the matter, and, of course, hearing each other's positions. Add to this the permitting of “polling in writing, facsimile transmissions and e-mail communications regarding their individual positions on matters relating to official board business; provided that the documentation shall be a public record and shall be available within seven days after polling. The polling shall not constitute a vote.”

That is great! The polling shall not constitute a vote. Then on the day of the board meeting, all that is left to do on that particular item is to call for a vote and the “official” vote be taken.

In my testimony on similar legislation meant for the neighborhood boards specifically but which did not include polling as permissible action, I said, “ Prior discussions held outside the board meetings tend to abbreviate the deliberative process because the members have gotten answers as to facts and the implications and consequences of different actions taken on the issues and have already heard the supportive and opposing views, and may not raise the same questions and issues. Not only does this short circuiting of the process raise suspicions of closed-door agreements, it deprives the public of valuable information and all of the reasoning behind the action taken by the board.”

Several other proposed amendments make it bad enough; the permitted polling simply leaves me speechless. Please, please, bury this bill in committee. Thank you.


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