Presidents Message

Dear Collecting Friend:
The collecting community should be aware of recent proposed changes to   Florida Law regarding historical resources and sites. House Bill 591 and   companion Senate Bill SB 868 were recently introduced that would have expanded   the power of the Department of Historical Resources to unprecedented levels.   Thankfully, these draconian measures died after initial passage by the Florida   House and Senate. Thanks to several DILIGENT collectors in the metal detecting   and arrowhead hobby and their perserverance, these two anti-collecting bills   were narrowly defeated In Florida. You can rest assured that the Bill Sponsors   WILL be back, and will not give up in their fight to pass anti-collecting   legislation.
Concurrently, Senate Bill 81 in Alabama passed both the House and   Senate which would clarify a “anti-collecting loophole” in existing law, that   has been recently exploited by the Alabama Historical Commission.
The entire purpose of SB 81 was to remove the phrase “whether or   not” (see the language from the current law here)

(4) “CULTURAL   RESOURCES. All abandoned
shipwrecks or remains of those ships and all   underwater
archaeological treasures, artifacts, treasure troves, or   other
cultural articles and materials, whether or not   associated
with any shipwreck, that are contained in or on   submerged
lands belonging to the State of Alabama and the sea within   the
jurisdiction of the state, and that have remained unclaimed
for more   than 50 years, excluding therefrom sunken logs,
cants, and timber resources   of any other type not associated
as part of a shipping vessel, and are   eligible for, or listed
in, the National Register of Historic Places or the   Alabama
Register of Landmarks and Heritage and any items covered   in
Section 13A-7-23.1.”

Bascially, the term whether or not,   as the law is currently written,
allows for the Alabama Historical Society   to direct law enforcement
to write citations and make arrests, whether   or not, the artifacts
are recovered from a shipwreck. By removal of   “Whether or Not“,
the burden of proof shifts to the AHC and law   enforcement to
prove the items are from a shipwreck.

In summary,   removal of “whether or not” would do nothing to affect
protection of   shipwreck sites, but the removal of those 3 words would
take away the power   of the AHC to request enforcement actions
against collectors doing so on   “non-shipwreck” sites, which could
be anywhere, as the law is currently   written.

The bill was vigorously challenged by the Alabama Historical Commission,   a state department created by the State’s Legislature. In the agency’s view,   any artifact found in an Alabama waterway is the sole property of the state.   The Commission’s stance has led to lawsuits, arrests and a full-scale assault   on lawmakers and private citizens. The Historical Commission over the years   has done little to explore, retrieve or preserve these artifacts. Under the   existing statue, for example, if a family was fishing along the Coosa River   and one of the children while attempting to land a fish in his net happened to   scoop up a civil war mini-ball, that ball would belong to the state. The child   could also be charged with a crime for disturbing the artifact. While this may   seem absurd, the current law can be interpreted that narrowly. This narrow   interpretations has led to untold historical artifacts laying in muddy waters   of Alabama.
Two amendments where added to the bill. One provides that no such   artifacts are recovered by the process of mechanical and/or hydraulic   dredging. The other amendment came from Senate Minority Leader Roger   Bedford (D-Russellville) stating, [It] shall be a Class A misdemeanor to   violate the provisions of this law. This would be equivalent to a speeding   ticket, according to Bedford.
In summary, as you can see, the Anti-Collecting Effort is alive and well,   much to our chagrin. It is IMPERATIVE that we grow our numbers, be   vigilant and progressive in our lobbying efforts. Do not turn a blind   eye or think for a minute that the folks that would like to take our hobby   away, will ever go away.
The only hope we have is UNITY and strength in numbers. Rest assured,   TSAS will be using all of our resources to do what we can to protect our hobby   but we can’t do it without your support and direct involvement! It will take   EVERYONE doing everything we can to protect our hobby – its a fight that never   ends!
Good luck and good hunting!
Kevin Dowdy
President – TSAS

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