The state Office of Information Practices has ruled that the state Reapportionment Commission is subject to the state’s open-meetings law.
In a July 12 advisory opinion, the OIP held that the Reapportionment Commission meets the definition of a “board” covered by the open-meetings law.
any agency, board, commission, authority, or committee of the State or its political subdivisions which is created by constitution, statute, rule, or executive order, to have supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power over specific matters and which is required to conduct meetings and to take official actions.
Deputy Attorney General Robyn Chun, the attorney for the Reapportionment Commission, had argued that the constitutional provision that created the Reapportionment Commission did not expressly provide that it be covered under the open-meetings law. She also contended that the chance that someone might sue to overturn final action by the Reapportionment Commission under the open-meetings law would conflict with constitutional guidance that legal challenges be reviewed by the Supreme Court. She argued that the Reapportionment Commission is a part of a legislative function and, like the state House and Senate, should not have to follow the open-meetings law.
The Reapportionment Commission, however, maintains that it has been operating under the open-meetings law.
The OIP advisory, issued after a request by Common Cause Hawaii, notes that anyone can file a lawsuit against the Reapportionment Commission under the open-meetings law.
Larry Geller, a blogger at Disappeared News, has filed a complaint with the OIP alleging that the Reapportionment Commission did not provide adequate public notice before taking action on June 28 to include the military and their dependents, nonresident students and incarcerated felons in the population count for purposes of drawing state political boundaries. Geller also alleges that the commission’s technical committee, which is drafting political boundaries, is improperly meeting in private.