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Copper theft bill passes state Senate, final passage uncertain

Jun 1, 2011 5:36:00 PM - thestate.com
A bill which supporters say would make it tougher for the state's copper thieves to resell their stolen copper passed the State Senate, 38-2, Wednesday afternoon.

The bill now goes back to the House where it originated. The Senate made some significant changes in the original House bill, and final passage is not assured - especially with so little time remaining in this year's legislative session. Thursday is the last day.

"It's too early to tell," said Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, who helped broker a compromise that moved the bill forward Wednesday.

Although the bill is strongly backed by the state's law enforcement, faith and business communities, a key provision in the bill is strongly opposed by the state's multi-million dollar recycling industry. That provision would ban cash payments to people who sell scrap copper to recyclers.

Copper thieves are causing millions of dollars of damage to air conditioners at churches and businesses seeking the copper innards. Under current laws, it is easy for thieves to then sell their stolen copper at recyclers and get quick cash.

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