Will new metal law be too restrictive? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Will new metal law be too restrictive?

Metal theft is a huge problem in south Georgia and across the state. A new law targeting scrap metal theft looks to tighten the restrictions on recyclers.

They're calling it just bad business, one that could cost Georgia jobs. It won overwhelming support in the Senate, but the House could be a different story.

It's a tough issue for recyclers. They realize the damage metal theft causes, but in the same breath, they say they're not to blame-- and they feel tougher restrictions won't prevent theft, but will hurt those already recycling legally.

"We wanted our local legislative delegation to do this we already passed an ordinance making it tougher on copper thieves but it was superseded by the state law," said Roger Marietta, Albany Mayor Pro Tem. "It's very disturbing when you hear copper theft involving the air conditioner at the Boys and Girls Club or a church and they're thinking 'How low down can somebody get?'"

"I know the Georgia Municipal Association's behind it, the police are behind it so I think so I think it's going to sale through the house in rapid fashion and hopefully it will be signed by the governor," said Marietta.  "It's a shame we have to worry about farmer's irrigation lines, wires being stole it's just on thing after another, when you think how terrible it is. Anything we can do to slow down the problem is good."

 "The laws are entirely too punitive on the recycling industry and a lot of the measures that have been selected for the Senate bill have no proven track record in other states to be successful in reducing metal theft," said Chip Koplin, of the Ga. Recycling Association. "This would be a huge administrative burden on the Georgia recyclers and I think, what a lot of people are losing track of is the inconvenience that this gives to our honest suppliers that haul us scrap.

They say it will cost Georgia jobs and revenue. They much prefer HB 872, introduced by Jason Shaw of Lakeland. "We feel it's a much more reasonable attempt at trying to do something with it."

"Recyclers have already agreed to quite a few concessions such as a state registration of recyclers to daily reporting of our purchases to tighter restrictions on the purchase of air conditioning coils, tighter restriction on it would ban the burning of copper," Koplin said.

Many recyclers say they already reject sales they find suspect, and some like AAA recycling have stopped taking copper altogether trying to make it harder for thieves to make a buck.

Shaw's bill doesn't require a waiting period before metal sellers can be paid for their materials, and it eliminates requiring that payment to be mailed.

More than 50 businesses and associations have thrown their support behind Senate Bill 321.  It's not clear yet how much support it might get in the House.


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