AD HOC LEGISLATIVE ISSUES COMMITTEE REPORT - October 2000
Al Tonetti, Committee Chair
Federal Legislative Issues
You can access legislative information or contact any member of Congress at http://thomas.loc.gov. You can also reach any member of Congress by calling the Capitol at (202) 224-3121 or 1-800-962-3524; by writing your Representative at the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington DC 20515, or your Senators at the U.S. Senate, Washington DC 20510; or electronically through either www.house.gov or www.senate.gov.
Section 106 Regulations
In response to the federal lawsuit by the National Mining Association challenging the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's (ACHP) current Section 106 regulations [see March 2000 OAC Newsletter Vol. 12(1)], on July 11 the ACHP published its current Section 106 regulations in the Federal Register as proposed regulations open to public comment. The current Section106 regulations went into effect on June 19, 1999 and remain in effect. It is anticipated that the new final regulations will be submitted to the ACHP for a vote on adoption on November 17, 2000. Comments on the current Section 106 regulations were to be submitted on or before August 10, 2000, addressed to the Executive Director, ACHP, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 809, Washington D.C. 2004, or by fax to (202) 606-8672, or by email to . The public comment notice and the current Section 106 regulations can be found in the Federal Register at www.access.gpo/su_docs/aces/aces140.html.
HR 701, The Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 2000
HR 701 amends the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. It will permanently fund many natural and a few cultural resource programs, the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) in particular. The funds come from Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leases, estimated at $4-5 billion annually. The HPF funds much of the operations of State Historic Preservation Offices, particularly in Ohio. Much of the money will make its way to states for natural and cultural resource programs, including programs that benefit archaeology. Ohio is scheduled to receive one of the largest sums, about $54 million a year. That amounts to over $800 million over the 15 years the law will be in effect. Over 4,000 organizations and all 54 governors support the bill.
The U. S. House of Representatives passed HR 701 on May 11, 2000. The vote was 315 to 102, with 118 Republicans, 196 Democrats, and 1 Independent voting for the bill, showing strong bipartisan support for the measure. Ninety-three Republicans, 8 Democrats, and 1 Independent voted against the bill. All of Ohio's Democratic Representatives and 6 of 11 Republican Representatives voted for the bill. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 13 to 7 in favor of the bill, but its chance for passage by the full Senate is less certain. There is strong opposition from a number of Senators from western states, and the end of the 106th Congress is fast approaching. Ohio Senator DeWine supports the bill while Senator Voinovich does not. If Ohio's $400 million Conservation and Revitalization Fund is approved by Ohioans on November 7, 2000 (see State Issue 1 below), Ohio will be well positioned to take advantage of the federal funds from the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, assuming it is approved by the Senate, a House-Senate Conference Committee, and signed by the President. Please contact Ohio Senators Voinovich and DeWine, or your state Senators, as soon as you can about the bill.
HR 834, National Historic Preservation Act Amendments of 2000
Among other things, HR 834 extends the authorization of the HPF and the ACHP through fiscal year 2005 (September 30, 2006), and reinstates the annual transfer of $150 million into the HPF. President Clinton signed the bill into law on May 26, 2000.
HR 2643, Amendments to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)
HR 2643 would provide for the appropriate study and repatriation of human remains for which a cultural affiliation is not readily ascertainable by repealing the ownership provisions of NAGPRA based on aboriginal land claims. Until several issues concerning the Kennewick Man litigation are settled, this bill is unlikely to move. The bill's sponsor is Rep. Hastings (R-WA). Upon introduction it was referred to the House Committee on Resources. Please contact you Representative about this bill.
S. 2478, The Peopling of America Theme Study Act
On April 27, Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), for himself and Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), introduced legislation authorizing the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a theme study to identify, interpret, and preserve sites relating to the migration, immigration, and settling of America. S. 2478, The Peopling of America Theme Study Act, builds upon the latest official thematic framework authorized in 1996 (PL 101-628, Sec. 1209), and seeks to encourage the nomination of properties for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the identification of potential new National Historic Landmarks, and the recommendation to Congress of sites for potential inclusion in the National Park System.
In introducing this legislation Senator Akaka noted: "All Americans were originally travelers from other lands. Whether we came to this country as native peoples, English colonists or African slaves, or as Mexican ranchers, or Chinese merchants, the process by which our nation was peopled transformed us from strangers from different shores into neighbors unified in our inimitable diversity -- Americans all."
Senator Akaka stressed that it is essential for all Americans to understand this process. The legislation recognizes that only one NPS unit focuses on the peopling of America, Ellis Island, a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Senator Akaka hopes that the study will serve as a springboard for the preservation and interpretation of several significant properties.
The legislation calls on the NPS to establish linkages with "organizations, societies and cultures" and to enter into a cooperative agreement with educational institutions, professional or local historical organizations, or other entities to prepare the theme study in accordance with generally accepted scholarly standards. Please contact Senators DeWine and Voinovich, or your state's Senators, about S. 2478.
State Legislative Issues
You can view and print copies of Ohio laws, bills, bill summaries, and status reports of bills at www.legislature.state.oh.us.You can reach your Representative or Senator by calling the Legislative Information Office at 1-800-282-0253; by writing your Representative at the Ohio House of Representatives, 77 South High St., Columbus, OH 43266-0603, or your Senator at the Ohio Senate, Senate Building, Columbus, OH 43215. Some members of the General Assembly have email address that are linked through the website.
[The end of the 123rd Ohio General Assembly, 1999-2000, is fast approaching. Bills that have not had hearings are unlikely to be enacted this session and will have to be reintroduced into the 124th Ohio General Assembly, 2001-2002]
State Issue 1, the Ohio Conservation and Revitalization Fund
On November 7, Ohio voters will decide whether or not to approve a $400 million environmental protection bond issue (see H. J. R. 15, May 19 Legislative Issues Committee Report). The fund was proposed by Gov. Taft and nearly unanimously approved by the Ohio General Assembly earlier this year.
The fund will initially provide $400 million over the next four years, with continuing investments as older bonds are retired or as community loans are repaid. From the initial investment, $200 million would be used to clean up brownfields (land that cannot be developed because it is contaminated with industrial wastes, but the site is not a federal Superfund site) and other, as yet unspecified, urban revitalization efforts. $200 million would also be used to preserve green space, farmland, streams, and expand recreational trails.
If Ohio voters pass the issue on November 7, the Ohio General Assembly will need to pass legislation detailing how the funds will be allocated, who would be eligible for funding, etc. Gov. Taft has indicated that local communities should decide on how and where the funds are to be used, based on local needs and priorities. The Governor has stated that city, township, and county governments, conservation districts, park boards, and some private sector entities should be able to apply for funds administered as grants and low-interest loans. The grants are to be matched by local dollars. The amount to be matched will be determined by the Ohio General Assembly. Funds from the program and matching funds can be used to leverage other dollars for environmental programs, particularly at the federal level.
The proposed fund is similar to the NatureWorks bond issue passed by Ohio voters in 1993, a program that continues to provide funds for repairing and enhancing primarily State-owned parks, forests and nature preserves. A relatively small portion of NatureWorks funds goes to local communities. The Conservation and Revitalization Fund is directed at local projects for environmental protection.
The fund does not increase taxes. Funds would come from the sale of bonds, which would be repaid over time with existing State revenues through a mix of general revenues and liquor-profit tax revenues. By law, funds cannot be granted or loaned to parties responsible for the contamination of a site determined to be a brownfield.
Whether or not Conservation and Revitalization Fund projects will be required to take into consideration their impacts on archaeological resources remains to be decided by the Ohio General Assembly and the state agencies that will implement the program, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and the Ohio Department of Development, the latter of which recently funded an archaeology review position at the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO). Presently, NatureWorks projects are reviewed by the OHPO. OHPO indicates that since review of NatureWorks projects began in 1994, 3-4% of OHPO's total workload consists of NatureWorks project reviews. This figure represents about 200-250 projects/year (ca. 1,200-1,500 projects). Archaeological investigations were recommended on 150 of the projects (ca. 10-13%), and OHPO reviewed 62 archaeological reports (40% of the 150 projects for which archaeological investigations were recommended). The number of archaeological sites found as a result of recommended surveys was low, less than 50, and only one archaeological site was determined to meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation (Dave Snyder, personal communication 2000).
Although the number of significant archaeological sites found as a result of OHPO's review of NatureWorks grants is apparently low, OHPO indicates that the effort has been worthwhile, particularly in raising the awareness of ODNR and NatureWorks applicants that archaeological resources exist and should be considered in project planning. The Ohio Archaeological Council will work to see that a similar review is undertaken for projects under the new program, if passed by Ohio voters on November 7.
House Bill 232/Senate Bill 51, increases the penalty for the offense of desecration
This bill increases the penalty for desecrating a place of worship or any other object of reverence or sacred devotion from a misdemeanor to a felony. The bill also increases from $5,000 to $15,000 the amount of damages a person may recover from the parent of a minor child as a result of a child's vandalism or desecration. The intent of the bill is to protect churches and cemeteries, but could be interpreted by the courts to include traditional cultural properties and sacred places such as prehistoric mounds, earthworks, and cemeteries. The Senate version of the bill was passed the General Assembly and Gov. Taft signed the bill on June 17, 1999. The bill became effective September 20, 1999.
House Bill 279, creates the Ohio Network-to-Freedom Commission as a permanent agency to preserve and promote the history of and to educate the public about the Underground Railroad
The bill creates the Commission, whose tasks include developing a public-private partnership to research, document, mark, and preserve Ohio sites associated with the Underground Railroad. The bill was introduced March 24, 1999 and assigned to the Education Committee. No action has been taken on the bill.
House Bill 393/S. B. 193, replaces the call-before-you-dig law with a single statewide one-call notification system
This bill requires that excavators, including archaeologists, notify the one-call system of the location of an excavation site and the intent to excavate at least 48 hours but not more than 10 days before commencing an excavation. Any excavator who knowingly fails to notify the one-call system is subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation, and fines up to three times the amount of reasonable costs of repairs to damaged underground utilities (see May 19 Legislative Issues Committee Report). The House bill was introduced June 17, 1999 and assigned to the Local Government Committee. The Senate bill was introduced on October 12, 1999 and assigned to the Ways and Means Committee. No action has been taken on either of the bills.
House Bill 463, allows corporations and individuals to receive nonrefundable tax credits of up to $50,000 for rehabilitating a historic property
The bill allows taxpayers to claim corporation franchise and personal income tax credits for 25%, not to exceed $50,000, of the qualifying expenditure incurred to rehabilitate a historic property. The bill was introduced September 30, 1999 and assigned to the Ways and Means Committee. No action has been taken on the bill.
House Bill 550, revises the offense of vandalism to prohibit a person, without privilege to do so, from knowingly causing physical harm to private property and serious physical harm to government property
The bill was introduced on January 18, 2000 on behalf of the Archaeological Society of Ohio (ASO). It was assigned to the Criminal Justice Committee [see March 2000 OAC Newsletter Vol. 12(1)]. Proponent (ASO) testimony was heard on May 16 (see May 19 Legislative Issues Committee Report). No further action has been taken.
House Bill 601, creates the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Mineral Resource Management Division
This bill merges ODNRs Division of Oil and Gas with the Division of Mines and Reclamation forming the Division of Mineral Resources Management. This is now the division that regulates mining's impact on cultural resources. The bill passed the General Assembly and was signed into law by Gov. Taft on June 14.
House Bill 679, requires that when the theory of evolution is taught in public school the scientific evidence for and against the theory be taught
The bill was introduced on May 2, 2000 and assigned to the Education Committee. No action has been taken.
House Bill 702/Senate Bill 276, revises the application requirements for a non-coal surface mining permit
The bill revises and adds requirements to the permit application process for aggregate (non-coal) industrial minerals mining. The application requirements do not address archaeological resources (see May 19 Legislative Issues Committee Report). The bill was introduced in the House on May 11, 2000 and assigned to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. No action has been taken. The bill was introduced in the Senate on March 28, 2000 and assigned to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. No action has been taken.