Spirit Cave Man friend of the court brief: As we did in the Kennewick Man case, where we successfully supported the position of the scientists in seeking access to the remains of Kennewick Man for scientific study, last month the OAC submitted a friend of the court brief in support of the defendant Bureau of Land Management. The brief was written by Brad Lepper, assisted by Al Tonetti, Bob Riordan, Elliot Abrams, and attorney's Brad Baker (former OAC member) and Alan Schneider (Kennewick Man case attorney). The brief focuses on the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribe's claim of cultural affiliation with the subject human remains, particularly the tribe's conflation of the concepts archaeological cultures and ethnic groups, claiming that the prior equates to the latter, which we contend is not the case. See the OAC Document Library for a copy of the brief.

U.S. S. 1378 and HR 3446, reauthorizing appropriations for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF): These are "clean" bills, i.e., they do not amend Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) [see below]. Reauthorization of appropriations, i.e., funds, to the ACHP and the HPF, by which State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) are federally funded, are periodically required. These bills are noncontroversial.

U.S. House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation, and Public Lands, discussion draft to amend Section 106 of the NHPA: The draft bill by Committee Chair Rep. Pombo (R-CA) to amend Section 106 of the NHPA by limiting Federal agencies to only considering properties listed in or formally determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) would eliminate the need for Phase I surveys and end consensus determinations of eligibility (DOEs) between Federal agencies and SHPOs. Consensus DOEs exceed listed or formal DOEs by 4:1. Each year, approximately 80% of all properties found to be eligible for listing in the NRHP are found eligible through the consensus process as a result of Phase I surveys. The draft bill faced strong opposition when the Subcommittee heard testimony this summer. Due to strong opposition to the draft bill, it has been moved back on the priority list of issues Rep. Pombo's committee's are dealing with. Issues such as amending the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act are now a higher priority for Rep. Pombo and his committee's. The Chairman of the Subcommittee is gathering information on what's wrong with Section 106 and will likely make another attempt to draft a bill sometime next year. The OAC's Government Affairs Committee Chair is a member of the American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) Government Affairs Committee, and through ACRA will be kept abreast of activity in the U.S. Congress on this matter.

Ohio S.B. 193, oil and gas production and timber harvesting on state owned or controlled lands: We have been in email communication with the Ohio Environmental Council – OEC (with whom we are affiliated as an eco-network member organization) concerning the adverse effects such production and harvesting could have on the state's archaeological heritage if archaeological investigations are not undertaken prior to granting leases for such purposes. The OEC is a government watchdog and environmental policy organization that acts as our eyes and ears at the statehouse. The OEC recently testified that the bill does not contain sufficient environmental controls, including concern for Ohio's historical heritage.

Ohio H.B. 346, Ohio Historical Society (OHS) income tax contribution fund: In September, a bill was introduced and is before the House Ways and means Committee to allow taxpayers owed a state income tax refund the option to voluntarily contribute all or a portion of their refund to OHS. Persons could also contribute to the fund independently of the tax refund program. This program would be similar to the current option to donate tax refunds to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for conservation programs, which annually generate between $500,000 and $900,000.

Ohio has a two-year legislative cycle. Bills introduced into the Ohio General Assembly in 2005 and not acted upon will automatically be carried over into 2006. At the end of 2006, all bills not acted upon will die and would have to be reintroduced in the 127th Ohio General Assembly.