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Wash. recycling law changes considered

Keywords: Tags  metals legislation, metals theft, recycling, Roger Goodman, scrap regulations, Lisa Gordon

PITTSBURGH — A Washington state congressman plans to introduce new legislation in the upcoming session regulating the metals recycling industry.

"We have found criminal penalties are not a deterrent and metal-related crimes are increasing in spite of the legislation that we have already enacted," Rep. Roger Goodman (D., Kirkland) told AMM.

The lawmaker’s move stemmed from a December meeting of the Metal Theft Work Group, which Goodman chairs and includes scrap metals recyclers, law enforcement officers, legislators, licensing officials, and utility and telecom representatives.

"We need a statewide system of regulation," Goodman said. "Right now, there is a patchwork of inconsistent laws and regulations that allow firms operating illegally to shut down and move to the next town."

Goodman has worked on legislation covering scrap metals since 2007. He sponsored existing laws that increased reporting requirements and established a $30 ceiling on cash payments. "We have seen no improvement in metal theft, and the problem has gotten worse," he said.

Goodman is mulling comprehensive changes to existing rules, including banning all cash payments, requiring scrap buyers to be licensed and redefining "criminal mischief."

Another option is to establish a statewide list of persons banned from selling material. "Seattle and Tacoma already have good ‘no buy’ lists, and this could be done statewide," he said.

There are numerous details to work out, Goodman said. For one, the work group is trying to devise a cash ban that wouldn’t have a discriminatory effect on indigent people without checking accounts.

Another concern is financial: If the state places new requirements on recyclers, it’s unclear how enforcement would be funded. "I don’t know the outcome for this because there is a budget deficit, but (we) are going to try our hardest to solve it," Goodman said.

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