Government Affairs Committee - March 2003

Al Tonetti, Committee Chair

Federal Affairs

President Bush's Executive Order: Preserve America

On March 3, 2003, President Bush issued the "Preserve America" executive order (EO) declaring that "it is the policy of the Federal Government to provide leadership in preserving America's heritage by actively advancing the protection, enhancement, and contemporary use of historic properties owned by the Federal Government, and by promoting intergovernmental cooperation and partnerships for the preservation and use of historic properties." The EO appears to be primarily designed to help stimulate the economy ("contemporary use") by pursuing partnerships between the public and private sectors "to realize the economic benefit that these [historic] properties can provide."

Among other things, the EO requires that by September 30, 2004, Federal agencies "prepare an assessment of the current status of its inventory of historic properties [including] an evaluation of the suitability of the agency's types of historic properties to contribute to community economic development initiatives, including heritage tourism"; review its regulations, policies and procedures for compliance with Sections 110 and 111 of the National Historic Preservation Act; and requires that by March 31, 2004, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation submit "recommendations to further stimulate initiative, creativity, and efficiency in the Federal stewardship of historic properties." The full text the EO can be read at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030304-9.html.

National Park Service (NPS) Archaeologists an Endangered Species?

In an effort to determine whether the Federal Government can save money and increase performance, the Bush Administration has ordered the Department of the Interior to perform an "A-76" cost-benefit analysis to examine whether private-sector workers should replace certain NPS workers, including archaeologists. Past Administrations have undertaken similar studies with mixed results to reduce the Federal workforce, but this is the first time "professionals" have been targeted. According the NPS, archaeologists were among those selected for study because "there a lot of them" and their jobs are not "inherently governmental." You can make your opinion on this matter known by sending an email to Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and NPS Director Fran Mainella at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Congress Cuts Historic Preservation Funds for FY03

Almost half way into the federal fiscal year (FY), October 1 - September 30, Congress finally approved funding for 11 government agencies. Although funds for the NPS were slightly increased, Historic Preservation Funds (HPF) providing the bulk of operating funds for State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO) were cut by $5 million, to $34 million. President Bush's proposed FY04 budget keeps the HPF at $34 million. This figure represents a $12.6 million decrease in state funds since 2001. Given the deficits most states are running it is likely that a level HPF in FY04 will result in service cuts and staff layoffs for SHPOs, threatening to adversely effect federal efforts to streamline environmental review decision making processes and state efforts to reverse the faltering economy.

S.288, the Indian Contracting and Federal Land Management Demonstration Project Act

Introduced February 4, 2003, and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs, this bill is a revised version of a similar bill from the last Congress. It seeks to establish 24 $100,000 grants over two years for Indian tribes or tribal organizations to conduct "archaeological, anthropological, and cultural surveys and analyses, and activities relating to the identification, maintenance, or protection of land considered to have religious, ceremonial, or cultural significance to the Indian tribe or tribal organization." You can access the bill at www.thomas.loc.gov.

S.180 and HR280, the National Aviation Heritage Act

Introduced in January 2003, and referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the House Committee on Resources, respectively, these bills would create the National Aviation Heritage Area in west-central Ohio and east-central Indiana. The purpose of the National Aviation Heritage Area is to preserve, interpret, develop educational and cultural programs, promote heritage tourism and economic development, and develop and implement a management plan for aviation-related historical resources. It authorizes the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to provide technical assistance and up to $1 million in matching funds annually for 15 years to develop and implement the management plan for the Heritage Area.

State Affairs

HB 675, Capital Appropriations for FY03-04

This bill was introduced on December 3, 2002, quickly passed by both houses of the last (124th) General Assembly, and signed 10 days later by the Governor on December 13, 2002. It appropriates funds for capital improvements from July 1, 2002 through June 30, 2004, and took effect March 14, 2003.

Included in the bill were two provisions of interest to the OAC. One widened the scope of historical activities county commissioners may fund, including the preservation and restoration of archaeological sites, adds preservation groups to the list of historical groups eligible for funds, and eliminates limits on the amount of funds the county can appropriate for such purposes. Ohio Revised Code (ORC) section 307.23 will reflect these changes. The second provision is called the "Ohio Museum Property Law." It will help museums and historical organizations deal with the problem of abandoned property and old loans, establishing ownership for all objects in their collections. ORC sections 3385.01-3385.10 will reflect these changes. Further information can be obtained by contacting the Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums, c/o Local History Office, Ohio Historical Society, 1982 Velma Avenue, Columbus, OH 43211, Phone: (614) 297-2340, or (800) 858-6878, Fax: (614) 297-2318, E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

House Select Committee Studying the Effectiveness of Ohio's Historical Programs and Partnerships

With the end of the last General Assembly on December 31, 2002, the bills introduced to address some of the recommendations contained in the Select Committee's final report died, as did the Select Committee's authority. Select Committee Chair Metzger no longer serves in the General Assembly. Vice Chair of the Select Committee, Rep. Hollister, who serves in the 125th General Assembly, indicated in a letter to the OAC that any recommendations from Select Committee concerning the Ohio Historical Society's operations would likely be dealt with in the budget process, not through legislation. This will make it very difficult for the OAC to address the concerns stated, and changes recommended, in our testimony in late 2001 and early 2002. The OAC will monitor the budget process as best we can to see if any of our recommendations are acted upon.

As of March 17, no bills directly affecting archaeology have been introduced into the 125th General Assembly.

 

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