Open Data Bills: SB448 & HB632 Update

The good news is that both bills in the Senate (SB448) and House (HB632) are still alive. SB448 was heard by the TEC committee.  As a result of that hearing there were numerous amendments added to the bill language. If you compare SB448 with SB448 SD1, the modifications include clarification of what open data is. It is data that is already deemed public. There was concern that in the original language it could be interpreted to mean all data. “Open data is not data that is governed by privacy, security, or any pre-existing legal protection.”

Another change is replacing rule making with policy. My understanding is the rule making process is a long and complex one. Rule making does mean that processes and procedures are codified which on the surface sounds like a good thing, but could also be perceived to be forcing this down everyone’s throat. We did have this discussion in the JUD on the House side with Chair Rep Karl Rhoads. We all agreed that changing it to policy would give OIMT the opportunity to develop it in collaboration with other agencies. Much less of a hammer. This language made it into the House version and the Senate.

Another change was the inclusion of appropriation language. It was a recognition that managing open data will require additional people. We agreed that the Office of Information Practices would have more requests to help determine if a dataset was public or not. With the added appropriation language the bill needed to go to the financial committee. It was originally to go to JDL, but now had to go to both JDL and WAM. In this case the bill had to be “re-referred” to JDL/WAM. This has not been schedule yet and we are calling JDL Chair Clayton Hee’s office to encourage them to hear the bill. As the lead committee Sen Hee can choose to hear the bill or not. WAM Chair David Ige told me they could hear the bill with JDL & WAM but JDL needs to schedule the bill first.

On the House side HB632 got modified and was heard in the CPC committee Chaired by  Rep Angus McKelvey, then the JUD committee Chaired by Rep Karl Rhoads. We successfully passed through both committees where most of the discussions and changes took place. The third committee hearing, as a result of the appropriation language is FIN Chaired by Rep. Sylvia Luke. I was just notified tonight (2/22) that HB632 HD2 will get heard on Mon. 2/25. This is very encouraging and means the bill has a good chance of getting through the House and making it to crossover, where the bill goes to the Senate. Similarly if the bill makes it through the Senate, it will crossover to the House.

So for now the important date to remember is Monday 2/25 to get testimony of support into the FIN committee. In my opinion the House bill HB632 HD2 is well written and I wouldn’t change anything. In the Senate version SB448 SD1, I would remove the reference to “alpha” and “alpha testing” for Data.Hawaii.Gov. This site is in production already and it is not necessary to refer to it as alpha which implies pre-beta and the software is pre-release version.

Submit your testimony here for HB632 HD2 and I thank you in advance.

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