The Ohio Utilities Protection Service and Sen. Bill Coley (R-Liberty Township) called a meeting of local government groups together this week to discuss their interest in changing the current 12-inch exemption for governmental entities. Sen. Coley asked attendees to consider replacing the current blanket exemption with a list of excavation activities with a depth less than 12 inches. Such a change would resolve concerns that have previously been made by Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regarding exempting an “entity” rather than certain “activities.” OML staff attended the meeting and are reviewing OUPS’s proposed list of exempt activities, which includes ditching, road surfacing, uncovering valve boxes, curb boxes, manhole covers, facility component inspections that require excavation, pedestal repair, plantings, signage, utility markers, utility marking and temporary survey markers. All the exempt activities would apply if they do not exceed a depth of 12 inches. The proposal also calls for the exemption to remain for any activity in the right-of-way. Sen. Coley later indicated his desire to include an amendment to the state budget bill to incorporate these changes. We are awaiting formal legislative language that would incorporate these changes. If you have activities that are not included in the list above, please let us know as soon as possible.