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The League of Women Voters, along with other members of the Sunshine Coalition, is supporting two key bills, now before the Hawaii Legislature to make public records more accessible to you, the people. Under current Hawaii law, most public records are kept secret. There are only a few limited categories of documents that the public can see upon request. In other words, the current law balances the privacy interests in the records against the public's right to know, and clearly comes out in favor of privacy.
The League's position has been that the balance of the current law tips much too far in favor of privacy. House Bill 842 and Senate Bill 613, if enacted this year or next, will equalize the balance between the rights of privacy and the public's right to access these records.
Basically, the bills would define much more clearly what documents are private and which can be made public. For example, psychiatric and medical histories of individuals generally should be kept private, but employment information, including previous work experience, training and education should be made public.
The bills create a balancing test; there is no black and white clear answer. But the bills take a better approach to the problem of the public's right to know than the current law.
League members should urge friends to contact their own State legislators to ask them to support House Bill 842 and Senate Bill 613. Public records should become
more accessible to the people!