Opinion Letter No. 03-07
May 28, 2003
Voting in Executive Meetings
Boards subject to the Sunshine Law may vote in executive
meetings. To require an open vote on matters discussed in executive
meetings would, in many circumstances, defeat the purpose of going
into an executive meeting.
Committees of boards subject to the Sunshine Law
are also subject to the Sunshine Law and may enter executive meetings
in accordance with sections 92-4 and 92-5, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
Those committees may also vote in executive meetings when necessary
to avoid defeating the lawful purpose of the executive meeting.
Boards and committees may vote in a closed meeting
on matters involving expenditures of public funds. Hawaii’s
Procurement Code states that boards need not comply with the Sunshine
Law for certain procurement matters. In other circumstances, boards
may vote in closed meetings on expenditures of public funds only
when such votes properly fall into one of the exceptions to open
meetings at section 92-5, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
Votes taken in executive meetings need not be disclosed
to the public because the Sunshine Law allows minutes of executive
meetings to be withheld so long as their publication would defeat
the lawful purpose of the executive meeting, but no longer. Once
disclosure of votes taken in executive meetings does not defeat
the lawful purpose of holding an executive meeting, the votes should
Members of the Honolulu Police Commission did not
violate the Sunshine Law by not disclosing how they voted on whether
to approve a police officer’s request that the City pay for
the legal defense of his criminal indictment until the officer and
his attorney had been informed of the decision. The Commission’s
hearing was a contested case hearing under the Hawaii Administrative
Procedures Act, chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HAPA”).
Thus, the decision of members of the Commission to delay disclosing
how they voted was not subject to the Sunshine Law.