Maryland Association of Counties Associate Director Andrea Mansfield, joined Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, and local law enforcement officials Jim Green (Baltimore City), and Jim Johnson (Baltimore County) to testify in support of SB 99 Junk Dealers and Scrap Metal Processors – Required Records, with amendments. The bill is designed to target the rampant theft and vandalism occurring in many Maryland jurisdictions, motivated by the ability to turn in recovered metal items for cash payments. However, the bill pre-empts the counties prerogative to enact local legislation, potentially upending substantial progress made while the General Assembly has been unable to resolve this issue.
In the absence of Statewide legislation, Baltimore City and Baltimore County worked to enact local legislation tailored to meet the needs of their jurisdictions. In written testimony, MACo agrees that effective statewide legislation remains the preferable means to regulate the industry and ensure information is shared on a timely basis to assist with law enforcement efforts. However, a statewide law should not supercede local efforts. These efforts should work in tandem with the State law providing a floor not a ceiling. In addition, the legislation enacted in both jurisdictions has stricter reporting requirements than those outlined in SB 99. These stricter requirements are essential for law enforcement to effectively investigate crimes involving junk and scrap metal. Amendments were offered by the panel to address both of these issues. Without these amendments, the passage of a statewide approach will undercut the progress of these local measures.
Representatives from recycling and scrap metal associations urged the Senate Finance Committee to support the bill as introduced. They argued that one statewide bill is needed to ensure uniform regulation across jurisdictions. The opponents, small scrap yard operators, argued that they do not have the capacity to meet the requirements outlined in the bill.
The Chair of the Senate Finance Committee stated that the Committee is interested in having uniformity across the State, but they would look at what Baltimore City and Baltimore County had done and have a work session.