For The Record: Star-Advertiser Q&A On SB 2837 & HB 2287

Posted on Feb 5, 2014 in Community News, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Homestead Services Division, News Releases, Public Information, Public Notice

“I’m writing a story for tomorrow’s paper about SB 2837 and HB 2287, which seeks to exempt from the open-records law any DHHL records which include personal data received or recorded by the department related to a homestead applicant or lessee.

“This seems like an attempt to keep confidential information I’ve requested regarding the department’s database of homestead lessees, excluding what is already protected by state law.

“The bills are scheduled to be heard tomorrow.

“Please get back to me this afternoon so I can include the department’s perspective on these bills.

“Here are some questions:”

— Why does the department believe this bill is necessary when current state law already protects the disclosure of personal information such as social security and home phone numbers?

There are other kinds of information that may be contained in applications, correspondence and other documents related to the everyday, personal lives of DHHL’s beneficiaries.  We will provide you with a copy of DHHL’s testimony.

— Is the attempt to get these bills passed this session related to my records request for the department’s homestead lessee database?

No. The bill is not in response to the kinds of information you have requested.

— Information related to leasing of state land generally is considered public. This would seem to create special protections related to lessees. Why is that necessary?

The bill does not seek to exempt information regarding General Leasing, Licenses, or Revocable Permits.

Homestead leases, on the other hand, necessarily involve information regarding a beneficiary’s personal, everyday life that should be kept private.  Please note that the bill does not seek to exempt disclosure of the leases themselves or the lessee names.