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Michigan Lawmakers Discuss Scrap Metal Theft

Mar 17, 2014

Lawmakers revive talks over scrap metal theft
By Jake Neher

There's a new push in Lansing to pass legislation meant to fight scrap metal theft in Michigan. Votes in the House and Senate could come as soon as this week.

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Supporters of House Bills 4593 and 4595 say the state must require there to be a paper trail whenever someone sells commonly-stolen items to a scrap yard.
State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, says there has been disagreement over how best to do that. But she says she is confident lawmakers will reach a deal soon.

"With the pressure that's being put, I think, on these individuals, that we might be able to see it move forward in a very positive way," said Tlaib, who has been championing the bills in the Legislature for three years.

She says it is also critical to make sure there is a delay between when people sell items like catalytic converters and copper wire to a scrap yard and when they receive payment. Tlaib has been pushing for a three-day waiting period.

"People that are attracted to the scrap industry - that are illegally scrapping - are coming in there because they can get instant cash right away," she said. "They can get the cash in their hand and walk out. There's no sense of documentation, they don't have to sign a check."

But the waiting period has been a point of contention between the state House and Senate.

State Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake Township, is leading the talks over scrap metal theft in the Senate. He says the legislation will probably require scrap yards to mail payments to people who sell them commonly-stolen items. He says the time it takes the payment to go through the mail will serve as a waiting period.

Kowall says mailing payments will also help create a paper trail for law enforcement.

Earlier this month, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan visited the state Capitol to promote the legislation, saying a waiting period and a paper trail requirement are essential.

Duggan says scrap metal theft has plagued the city and its ability to attract new residents and businesses.