Al Tonetti, Chair

Andy Sewell, Lauren Sieg, and Mike Striker, Committee Members

State Issues

Ohio Underground Damage Prevention Coalition.

Subcommittees of the coalition continue to meet discussing possible changes to Ohio’s “call before you dig”/underground utilities protection law. Subcommittees will report their findings and make recommendations to the Coalition early next year.

Human Burial Places Protection Bill.

On June 11, State Representatives Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) held an interested party meeting to discuss the bill. Among the groups in attendance were the Archaeological Society of Ohio, Ohio Farm Bureau, and Ohio Realtors Association. They expressed opposition to the draft bill. Based on some of the objections raised, revisions to the draft bill have been proposed and the OAC and Ohio History Connection/State Historic Preservation Office (OHC/SHPO) continue to work with the state representatives and the Legislative Service Commission on it.

Archaeology Guidelines Update.

SHPO continues to work on revisions, hopefully developing a draft next year. SHPO wants to make the revised guidelines more user-friendly and easily updated on their website with links to best practices and other useful documents. New guidelines on geophysical survey, photogrammetry, tribal consultation and NAGPRA, human remains, submerged resources, and integration with the history/architecture guidelines are the focus.

History Fund Update.

In 2019, the Ohio History Fund has raised $97,034, slightly ahead of this time last year. Last year netted $99,119. The History Fund grant application deadline was September 4. Since 2012, the History Fund has made more than $690,000 in grants to 73 organizations in nearly half of Ohio's 88 counties. The History Fund has received 347 grant applications totaling almost $4.2 million in requests. Applications for archaeological projects are encouraged. 

Statehood Day.

Will occur on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. An initial planning meeting was held on October 2. Capital improvements and the human burial places bill will be among the legislative priorities.

Tribal Nations Conference.

Will occur October 22-24. OHC/SHPO will update the tribes on the human burial places legislation.

Wyandot Mission Church and Cemetery.

Recently, the United Methodist Global Ministries returned ownership of/deeded three acres of land containing the mission church and cemetery in Upper Sandusky, Wyandot County, to the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma. In 1843, the Wyandotte deeded the land to the Missionary Society of the Methodist Church, the forerunner to today's United Methodist Global Ministries, to protect it when the federal government removed the tribe from Ohio. State Rep. Riordan McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) read a commendation from his colleagues in the statehouse.

Federal Issues


 In June the House passed the 2020 Interior-Environment funding bill. It includes $121.66 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, a $19 million increase over last year and $89 million more than President Trump requested. Funds include:

  • $53,675,000 for State Historic Preservation Offices, an increase of $4 million
  • $13,735,000 for Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, plus-$2 million
  • $23,250,000 for competitive grants to document, interpret, and preserve historical sites associated with the struggle for civil rights, plus-$8 million
  • $750,000 for grants to under-represented communities$16,000,000 to the Save America’s Treasures grant program, plus-3 million
  • $167.5 million for both the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The full Senate has yet to pass the bill, but the Senate Appropriations Committee generally reduces the increase in funding in these program areas. Differences will be resolved in conference. The Federal Government is again operating under a continuing resolution. Congress and the President will have to negotiate a deal to keep the Federal Government open beyond November 21. 

S. 2430, Paving the Way for Rural Communities of 2019 Act. 

Recently, Senators Blackburn (R-TN), Perdue (R-GA), and Hyde-Smith (R-MS) introduced S. 2430. The bill would remove compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act for federally funded projects or activities in any area of the country that is not part of a metropolitan statistical area (MSA). In Ohio, this would remove compliance in 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties, all of them rural. S. 2430 was referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. No hearings on the bill have occurred. We will work with our partners at the federal level, particularly the Coalition for American Heritage and the Society for American Archaeology, in opposing this bill.

H.R. 1179, African American Burial Grounds Network Act.

Introduced on February 13, 2019, the bill has 42 cosponsors including Ohio Reps. Balderson (R-Troy), Beatty (D-Columbus), Fudge (D-Cuyahoga and Summit counties), and Turner (R-Dayton). In May the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands held a hearing on the bill. It would create within the National Park Service the African American Burial Grounds Network that would:

  • Create a voluntary, nationwide database of historic African American burial grounds, with the consent of the property owner;
  • Provide technical assistance to local public, private, state, and local partners to research, survey, identify, record, preserve, evaluate, and interpret these burial grounds;
  • Make available grants for local groups to research, survey, identify, record, and aid in the preservation of sites within the Network; and
  • Establish educational materials for community members, local groups, and schools about African American burial grounds.

In June, the OAC joined 72 other local, state, and national organizations, including six from Ohio, in a letter of support for the bill to the Subcommittee and the House Committee on Natural Resources.

H.R. 3846/S. 2165, Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act.

Bipartisan bills to explicitly bar and establish penalties for knowingly exporting Native American cultural items that were obtained in violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, or both. The bills have been referred to the House Natural Resources, Judiciary, and Foreign Affairs Committees; and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, respectively. The House bill has 15 cosponsors, none from Ohio.  Recently, a hearing on the bill was held by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States. The Senate bill has 9 cosponsors, none from Ohio. It has not had a hearing.

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 between the USACE, SHPO, local, state, and national preservation organizations, state and federal legislators, and others concerning the project. Relocation of the property is no longer being considered. Transfer of ownership of the building to a local nonprofit organization is likely. The OAC will be a concurring party on the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) regarding the property.

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 included a stipulation to prepare an article about the archaeological investigations for an unspecified peer-reviewed journal.

Zoar Levee and Diversion Dam repair: USACE project, Tuscarawas County. Consultation on impacts to the Zoar Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. The USACE and their archaeological consultants have conducted archaeological investigations in the project area. The Phase 1 survey report including geomorphological, geophysical, deep trenching, and shovel test pit investigations will be reviewed in the next few weeks. No direct impacts to archaeological sites are foreseen. A Programmatic Agreement (PA) was executed in 2016. Tonetti attended a consulting party meeting in Zoar on October 17.

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath: USACE project, Summit County. Mitigation of adverse effects to 33SU679, an intact portion of original towpath, have been completed. We are a concurring party on the MOA.

Gorge Metro Park Dam: USEPA project, Summit County (Metro Parks). Removal of Gorge Dam in Cuyahoga River. The OAC submitted comments on reports addressing the identification of historic properties. We are a consulting party on the project. 

Wayne National Forest Plan Revision: Tonetti continues to participate in monthly conference calls. The assessment of current conditions phase of the revision is to be finalized this winter, with the planning development phase and Environmental Impact Statement completion scheduled for 2021.

Universal Charitable Deduction Legislation: Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) again introduced legislation (H.R. 651, the Charitable Giving Tax Deduction Act) creating a universal charitable deduction, i.e., available to all taxpayers. It was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. Ohio Rep. Turner (R-Dayton) is one of 22 cosponsors. In addition, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, recently introduced H.R. 1260 to amend the IRS Code for the same purpose. The amount of charitable contributions would not be capped under the bills. They would make charitable deductions universal and above-the-line, meaning that all taxpayers can deduct charitable donations from their taxes whether they itemize or not. The Republican’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act resulted in a 1.1% decline in charitable donations by low- and moderate-income individuals. The OAC is a non-profit charitable corporation registered with the state of Ohio. The OAC is an exempt organization as described in 26 U.S.C. Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, Employee Identification Number 51-0176494, and is eligible to receive tax-deductible donations to the extent allowed under applicable law.

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