A scrap metal bill is causing controversy between lawmakers

DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) - Stealing and selling scrap metal is a lucrative business for bad guys and it's all about one thing.

"So you can get that immediate cash.  It's for the quick fix," said newly elected Detroit City Councilman Scott Benson, District 3.  Scrappers cost his business thousands of dollars.

 "People would break in and steal maybe two or three feet of copper piping for a quick dollar," said Benson.

The Michigan legislature has been working on a bill that has bipartisan support to curb selling stolen catalytic converters, copper wire and air conditioning units by banning cash transactions.

"These three items, if anyone brought them in they would have to wait three days to come pick up a check or get it mailed to their home," said Benson.

But now, State Representative Rashida Tlaib, (D-Detroit) said some senators are trying to take away the three day hold and instead implement a database with the seller's information.

"How is a database going to stop that criminal from coming into the doors of the scrap yard and turn in stolen goods," said Tlaib.  So even though Tlaib sponsored the original bill, she said she does not support it with the new amendments added by the senate.

We spoke by phone with state senator Mike Kowall who says a database will help police track criminals and keep them from striking again.

"It's just a common sense approach to be able to have the industry have the ability to talk to one another and the state police," said Tlaib.

The scrap metal industry would foot the bill for the database.  According to the revised bill, the database must be in place by October 2014. 

The senate also stipulated If the database in place there is no three day hold for checks and money orders.  If it is not in place, the three day hold would go away.  The bill still has to be approved by the senate and then go back to the house for another vote.

Print this article Back to Top