“The Legislature today has passed a strong bill that will help stop metal theft in our state. I want to thank Chairman Sen. Gray Tollison, Sen. Billy Hewes, and Chairman Rep. Willie Bailey for their leadership, and Lt. Governor Phil Bryant for allowing me to work on the issue from the very beginning of the regular session. I hope Governor Barbour will sign the bill into law.

The bill mandates a paper trail for the sale of metals like copper, aluminum and platinum. It outlaws the purchase of these metals with cash. Future transactions will be paid after three days for mailed check or electronic bank transfer. I feel strongly about this prohibition because I believe cash transactions can be used to turn a blind eye to criminals and how they obtained the copper they sell.

In additional to tougher criminal penalties, the bill would allow state government to asses fines and shut down scrap metal dealers who do not follow new registration requirements. Having worked for the Secretary of State’s Office for thirteen years, I know that administrative enforcement is often quicker than criminal prosecution and can be just as effective. Law-abiding businesses will register easily. Less scrupulous dealers can be put out of business, even if criminal prosecutors are backed up with other cases.”

Sen. David Blount

May 30, 2008