The Baltimore Sun recently joined the growing fray of concerned parties watching SB 99, statewide legislation to regulate scrap metal dealers. MACo adopted this regulation as a legislative initiative for 2009, but for the second straight year saw its efforts frustrated by late-session mishaps, leading to no bill passing. From the Sun editorial:
A bill recently adopted by the Senate would regulate scrap processors, but only in a way that would cause hardship to police in Baltimore and Baltimore County. That’s because the measure pre-empts local regulations. If it becomes law, investigators would be less able to monitor scrap transactions in the two jurisdictions where scrap metal theft has become a big problem.
That’s unconscionable. Stealing metal has become too common a crime for lawmakers to take tools to fight it out of the hands of police.
MACo opposed the pre-emption language in SB 99 as introduced, and continues to raise this as the essential county issue on the subject going forward. A “low ceiling” is a worse outcome for counties than no State legislation at all.
As the Sun concludes:
But such an effort need not hurt what police are already doing. Set the requirements as a minimum standard and not the sole standard, and the bill does have merit.
Until that happens, it’s better for the legislation to be scrapped by the House than be sold as a solution to fighting crime. Dealers may not like keeping extra records or holding items for police, but until scrap yards no longer fulfill the role of “fence” for thieves — who may actually be selling someone’s fence — metal theft will continue to be a growing problem for Maryland.