Hawaii’s open records agency is celebrating the fact that it has won government agencies a new right to appeal decisions compelling the release of public records.

But we don’t think that’s something to be proud of.

Senate Bill 2858, passed by both the Hawaii House and Senate on Tuesday, creates a path for state agencies to appeal decisions by the Office of Information Practices.

That’s a new potential barrier for government agencies to put up if they don’t want to release public records to the public.

No matter what OIP says, what they’ve done is taken Hawaii’s open records law down to a weaker standard.

Sure, the bill would take pressure off OIP.

But, by allowing OIP to shirk its responsibility, it undermines the intent of lawmakers who wrote the open records law who than 20 years ago. That may help OIP accomplish other tasks, but it doesn’t serve the public purpose for which the agency was created.

Rather than aiding the public, the bill denies the rights of a person who can’t afford to be represented in a complex court proceeding spelled out by the proposed appeals process.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen may have put it best: “The measure isn’t in the best interest of open government and we should stop it here.”

We agree. The governor should veto the bill.

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