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National metals theft bill ‘redundant,’ ISRI says

Keywords: Tags  ISRI, metals theft prevention act, Mark Reiter, Willian Johnson, Amy Klobuchar, Charles Schumer, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — A bill proposed this week aimed at curbing metal thefts nationally will create "redundancy and confusion" by duplicating existing state-based laws, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

The Metal Theft Prevention Act—introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and co-sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.)—requires scrap metal dealers to keep records of secondary metals purchases for two years and make them available to law enforcement agencies, as well as requiring scrap metal purchases in excess of $100 to be made by check instead of cash.

Crucially, however, the bill doesn’t override laws enacted at the state or local government level.

One new provision is the designation of certain types of metals theft as a federal crime, punishable with up to 10 years in a federal prison.

ISRI assistant vice president and chief lobbyist Mark Reiter told AMM that while the association is encouraged by the inclusion of the federal crime provision, the trade group is unable to support the bill as it contains "duplicative and redundant" provisions for documentation and cash thresholds.

"Our position is that given 49 states have enacted laws which require such documentation, and 26 states have cash threshold requirements, it was not necessary to repeat them," he said.

Duplicating such provisions would create "redundancy and confusion," Reiter said.

"We’ve been pursuing an effective bill. We would like to have one. But we don’t want a bill that would be ineffective or cause more problems," ISRI director of political and public affairs William Johnson said.

ISRI and Klobuchar’s office had been working together on the bill for more than a year, Reiter said, adding that ISRI had noted its concerns.

ISRI had been pushing for a "thieves only" bill, he said, noting that the association would have supported the bill if it was condensed to only include the "federal crime" provision.

Johnson described this provision as a "deterrent" for scrap metals thieves, and recyclers would be able to "scare" thieves by erecting signs listing the penalties for such crimes.

ISRI had been pushing for the bill to permit recyclers to use ATM-style machines that dispense cash, while also photographing scrap peddlers for inclusion in transaction records, Reiter said. This hasn’t been included in the current bill.

Klobuchar’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment. Previous scrap metals theft bills introduced by Klobuchar and Schumer have failed to make it through the committee stage (, Dec 10, 2009).

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