OAC Government Affairs Committee Report to Members, October 19, 2018

Al Tonetti, Chair

Jeff Reichwein, Lauren Sieg, and Mike Striker, Committee Members

State Issues

Call Before You Dig Law Revision; OHIO811: The second meeting of the legislative coalition was held on September 13. The main issues discussed were better defining the size and scope of dig tickets, how large projects should be defined and dig ticket requests handled, and exempting certain activities from compliance. 

The November excavator seminar schedule is available on the resources/events page on the OHIO811 website. They are held on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at six regional locations around the state, are free, and include lunch. The seminar provides updates on the new and improved remote ticket entry/i-dig usage, excavator training, features of the new OHIO811 mobile app, and other relevant information. 

As of November 30, 2018, OHIO811 (formerly the Ohio Utilities Protection Service [OUPS]), and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) and the Ohio Gas Producers Underground Protection Service (OGPUPS), will consolidate their call before you dig processes under OHIO811. After that date, a single call to 811 or a visit to OHIO811.org will insure that affected member utilities as well as those members owning, operating, and maintaining oil and gas production facilities are properly notified of planned excavations. 

Human Burial Places Protection Bill: The draft bill has been revised many times by the working group, and now have a close to final draft back from the Legislative Service Commission. On October 25, we will present the draft to federally recognized tribes at the Ohio History Connection’s (OHC) tribal nations conference. A meeting with State Rep. Scherer is scheduled for Nov. 5, and following the Nov. 6 elections we will discuss how to proceed with getting it enacted. It will be one of the legislative priorities at OHC’s Statehood Day event on February 27, 2019, the first planning meeting for which was held on October 10. A presentation on the draft bill was made at today’s OAC membership meeting.

Federal Issues

Historic Preservation Funding: The Interior Appropriations Bill passed the House in July, and the Senate in early August. The FY19 House Interior Appropriations bill funds the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) at $101.41 million, while the Senate bill funds the HPF at $91.91 million. The differences between the two bills will be worked out in conference committee. 

Section 106 Consultation Updates:

  •  Judge Barker House. USACE project, Washington County. Archaeology at the NRHP-listed building has been completed without finding anything of significance. There is ongoing consultation concerning the proposed demolition or relocation of the building. The OAC is a concurring party on the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).
  • Maumee River Bridge. USACE/ODOT project, Henry County. The MOA has been executed and data recovery completed at site 33HY167. The Miami Tribe is an invited signatory on the MOA; the OAC and Eastern Shawnee Tribe are concurring parties. The MOA includes a stipulation to prepare an article about the archaeological investigations for an unspecified peer-reviewed journal.
  • Zoar Levee and Diversion Dam. USACE project, Tuscarawas County. Consultation has resumed now that funds have been secured for the project. A Programmatic Agreement (PA) was executed in 2016. A consulting party meeting was held on October 17.
  • Wayne National Forest Plan Revision. Four conference calls and orientation sessions in Athens, Ironton, and Marietta discussing “local cultural and heritage” have occurred. Tonetti attended the sparsely attended Athens meeting. The current assessment (of current conditions) phase of the plan revision is to be finalized in June 2019, with the planning development phase and Environmental Impact Statement completion scheduled for the end of 2020.
  • Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. USACE project, Summit County. Mitigation of adverse effects to 33SU679, an intact portion of the original canal towpath. We are a concurring party on the recently executed MOA. 

Universal Charitable Deduction Bill, HR 5771: The bill was introduced in the House in May 2018 and referred to the Ways and Means Committee. There has been no further action on it to date. The bill would allow all taxpayers the opportunity to take an unlimited deduction from their gross income for charitable giving. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 makes a universal charitable deduction more important than ever. This law increased the standard deduction, limited state and local tax deductions, and doubled estate and gift tax deductions, all of which will decrease the number of low- and moderate-income taxpayers from giving, and the amount they give. Since enactment of the law, charitable organizations have seen a sharp drop in donations, estimated to be about $15 billion in 2018. The drop is the result of the law creating less of an incentive for all but the wealthy to give. If this trend continues it will have an adverse effect on charitable organizations, including future fundraising efforts of the Ohio Archaeological Council. Conversely, a universal charitable deduction is estimated to increase charitable giving by $20 billion.

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