The Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee Monday approved legislation that would add new regulations to the sale of scrap metal in the state.
“We’ve brought this bill because of situations in our area and statewide,” said Neil Colwell, a lobbyist from the Avista Corporation, a power company based in Spokane, Wash. He told the committee that the theft of scrap metal is becoming a costly problem for owners of farms and industrial facilities.
Under current Idaho law, scrap metal dealers are required to obtain a copy of a state-issued photo ID when purchasing scrap metal from a seller. The proposed legislation, House Bill 241, will increase the regulation of scrap metal sales, requiring dealers to obtain either a photograph or a digital video recording of more than 30 seconds and it must include the vehicle being used by the seller with the property, a copy of the license plate of the seller’s vehicle and the property being sold.
Colwell said Avista has sustained 92 thefts in the past three years totaling $400,000. Farms, ranches, electric power plant stations and other industrial facilities have been the targets of such thefts. Colwell even noted an incident involving “hundreds of feet of wire” that was stolen from the runway at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle. “We believe the penalties in this bill could be a deterrent,” he noted. “We’re hopeful that somebody would not want to be photographed when they are attempting to sell something that is stolen.”
But at least one person testifying was concerned that the legislation has emerged too quickly for proper consideration. “My biggest concern is that I just learned of this bill last week,” said Mike Cataldo of Pacific Steel and Recycling in Boise. Cataldo testified against the bill, noting that there are existing resources that law enforcement is not using that could be helpful in the effort to combat metal theft. He referenced what he called a “free scrap theft alert system” that he says is not only available statewide but also on an interstate basis, which documents stolen and burglarized items.
House Bill 241 has already passed in the House. With the Senate committee approval Monday, the bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
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