Arizona Legislative Update

01/23/2021 12:17 | AAC Admin (Administrator)

AZ Senator David Gowan (R, LD-14 Sierra Vista/Safford) has just introduced 2021 Senate Bill 1338 (historic preservation; state museum; transfer) which has the potential to impact Arizona Archeology. A copy of the bill’s introduced language can be found at This bill is similar to a smaller bill introduced in 2020 (SB 1241), which was not enacted. AAC previously adopted a neutral position on this bill. An initial analysis of the new bill finds it would amend multiple state statutes to shift authority, powers, duties and responsibilities from the Arizona State Museum (ASM) to the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

The bill would require the Board of Regents to consult SHPO on matters relating to the ASM. The bill would remove ASM’s ability to adopt Arizona Antiquities Act fees for anything other than fees related to the Arizona Burial Laws on non-state lands (note SHPO is not given authority to propose fees). The bill shifts Antiquities Act permitting and reports of discoveries to be the responsibility of SHPO. The bill also adds SHPO as the point of contact when human remains are discovered on non-state lands – SHPO would then contact ASM for determination of affiliation, which adds an extra step adds an extra step and more bureaucracy when human remains are encountered. Finally, the bill transfers an acquisition and preservation fund from ASM to SHPO. Note that no appropriations or ability to generate fees by SHPO are included in the current version of the bill. Because the bill is an unfunded mandate for an already underfunded state agency, and because the bill would complicate the process of notification and repatriation of human remains, we feel the bill would potentially have a negative impact on Arizona Archaeology.

The AAC Political Action Committee will be meeting with administrators, legislators, and liaisons in the coming days to discuss the legislation and its potential impacts to Arizona Archaeology. Following those meetings, AAC will schedule an afternoon zoom-based information sharing session for the membership and others interested in the bill and communicate how you can help shape the legislation as it goes through the committee process. AAC media will continue to share updates on this and other bills affecting Arizona Archaeology.

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