State Sens. Gil Keith-Agaran, Kalani English, Maile Shimabukuro and Glenn Wakai would like government agencies to take better care in how they maintain public records.

The Office of Information Practices, the state agency tasked with administering Hawaii’s open records law, appreciates the intent of what they are trying to do but came out against their legislation to require it statutorily.

Gilbert Keith-Agaran, State Senate District 5 candidate, 2014

Gilbert Keith-Agaran

“OIP believes that encouraging agencies to be attentive to existing retention schedules and to take care with their ‘official’ files is a laudable goal, but the broad application of this bill combined with the legal liability it creates makes it an impractical solution,” OIP Director Cheryl Kakazu Park wrote in her testimony.

The Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, chaired by Keith-Agaran, deferred Senate Bill 140 on Tuesday.

Others didn’t think the legislation went far enough.

The Kokua Council said in its testimony that government agencies need to do more than just take care of the hard copies of public records; they need to make them accessible to everyone online.

The council, an advocacy group for seniors and others, pointed out that for many groups of people — neighbor islanders, students, attorneys — if the information is not online there’s really no practical or useful access.

The Hawaii Supreme Court in November ruled that government agencies don’t have a duty of reasonable care with respect to maintaining government records for the purpose of public inspection because there’s no state law requiring such.

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