We write to respond to your editorial on the copper theft bill passed by the Legislature in special session (“Metal theft: Barbour should sign weakened bill,” June 3). This is a strong bill that will do much to reduce copper theft in our state. This is not a “weakened” bill.
Just as with the original bill, we established a ban on cash transactions. Future transactions will be paid for by mailed check or electronic bank transfer. We also outlawed transactions outside of normal business hours. Every seller of copper and certain metals will be required to provide:
The name, address and age of the person from whom the metal is purchased as obtained from the seller’s personal identification card;
The date and place of each acquisition;
The weight, quantity or volume and a general physical description of the type of metal property, such as wire, tubing, extrusions or casting;
The amount of consideration given in a purchase transaction for the metal;
The vehicle license tag number, state of issue and the make and type of the vehicle used to deliver the metal;
If a person other than the seller delivers the metal property, the name, address and age of the person who delivers the metal property; and
A signed statement from the person receiving consideration in the purchase transaction stating that he is the rightful owner of the metal property or is entitled to sell the metal being sold.
In strengthening the legislation, we have added civil penalties and fines for scrap metal dealers who do not follow new registration requirements. The secretary of state’s office will now have the authority to fine scrap metal dealers who do not follow the law or to even shut down businesses that do not register.
These enforcement provisions were not in the bill passed in the regular session. We believe the new bill is stronger. In response to the governor’s veto, we did remove the requirement that the seller provide his thumbprint and reduced the “tag and hold” period from five days to three days. These are minor changes that do not “water down” the bill.
We appreciate the work of Rep. Willie Bailey on this important piece of legislation and are optimistic that the governor will sign it into law.
Sen. Billy Hewes
President Pro Tem
Sen. Gray Tollison
Chairman, Judiciary B. Committee
Sen. David Blount
Secretary, Judiciary B Committee
Clarion Ledger LTE
Senators Billy Hewes, Gray Tollison & David Blount