Scrap Metal legislation passes House, sets up for possible late-session resolution

With the House of Delegates passing both SB 99 and HB 1174, two bills aiming to regulate scrap metal dealers, the controversial issue is once again heading for a late-session resolution of House/Senate differences. As the bills sit now, MACo supports the House versions — where the bills explicitly allow counties to enact tougher regulations locally to suit local needs.

Today’s Washington Post discusses the recent history of this issue, and observes that the late-session resolutions anticipated in each of the last two years have resulted in no legislation. From their coverage:

Sometimes it’s the bills right out in the open – the ones under your nose that appear to be moving smoothly toward passage – that are secretly in the most trouble in the final days of session in Annapolis

There may be no better example of that than SB 99 — and its twin, HB1174. The measures are popular with most police departments in the state and seem aimed at the clear public good of cracking down on illegal scrap metal sales, including those of sawed-off catalytic converters, indoor plumbing pipes, stadium bleachers, guard rails, manhole covers and more, which have disappeared with increasing regularity during the recession.

Yet, each of the last two years, the bills have died mysterious deaths in the final hours before the General Assembly adjourned. In 2008, a similar scrap metal bill was nullified after it was signed by the wrong lawmaker. And last year, after the kinks appeared to be worked out in a conference committee, the bill never resurfaced on the last night for a final vote.

MACo and local law enforcement will continue to advocate for the state law becoming a “floor” and not a “ceiling” for this important oversight issue. As the Post suggests, the effort may once again take until the final hours of the session.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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