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National Conference of State Legislatures Questions Merits of Federal Metals Theft Legislation

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) today applauds the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) for joining the growing chorus of state leaders opposing Congressional attempts to impose a problematic federal solution to combat metal theft. In a letter sent earlier this month to all U.S. Senators, NCSL wrote that a federal metals theft law "may preempt some state laws and hinder the work that is underway in the states to battle this problem."

"A federal metals theft law is simply unnecessary since all 50 states have already enacted metals theft legislation," said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. "Recyclers across the country have worked closely with law enforcement and elected officials to pass strong legislation to effectively address the specific needs of their communities. A federal law would only add a layer of complexity and confusion for federal, state, and local law enforcement, prosecutors, and recyclers."

In the 113th Congress, S. 394 was introduced in an effort to reduce metals theft. Unfortunately, the legislation contained a number of provisions in conflict with state laws while adding a layer of bureaucracy leading to confusion for stakeholders. No bill has yet been introduced this Congress, but an attempt was recently made to use similar language as part of an amendment offered to the National Defense Authorization Act. In response, NCSL issued its letter outlining a number of its concerns, including the use of uniform standards. The letter stated, "The current state laws regarding metal theft contain differences, but do so in order to address each state's particular needs. Uniform standards may lead to confusion rather than clarity regarding whether state or federal laws apply.

This may hinder the progress made in enforcing metal theft on a state-by-state basis, and may also have a negative effect upon prosecution efforts." A full copy of the letter is available online.

Over the course of the last several years, a number of additional state elected officials have voiced their concerns over federal metals theft legislation:

"S. 394 may preempt these state laws, undermining the efforts that many states have already taken to address this issue, upsetting this carefully designed regulatory balance, and creating regulatory confusion and significant and unnecessary enforcement difficulties that state attorneys general may bear the responsibility of reconciling." – Catherine Cortez Masto, Then- Nevada Attorney General, June 13, 2013

"… States have struck a regulatory balance intended to preserve the economic and environmental benefits of recycling while providing law enforcement with the necessary tools to combat the increasing prevalence of metal theft. S. 394 would likely upset this carefully designed balance between the public interest, industry and law enforcement, and also would create regulatory confusion and significant and unnecessary enforcement difficulties that state Attorneys General may bear the responsibility of reconciling." – James Caldwell, Louisiana Attorney General, June 14, 2013

"If adopted, I see S. 394 in practice as curtailing state authority, confusing settled issues, and possibly hampering enforcement efforts on this important issue." – Dustin McDaniel, Then-Arkansas Attorney General, June 21, 2013

Serving as the Voice of the Recycling Industry™, ISRI and its members have been leaders in the fight against metals theft. In 2014, it formed a Law Enforcement Advisory Council, group of experienced law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and security personnel that advises ISRI on ways to assist law enforcement in the fight against metals theft. ISRI also conducts workshops across the country to bring law enforcement and scrap recyclers together to share ideas and discuss ways to collaboratively address the crime. It also operates ScrapTheftAlert.com and StopMetalsTheft.org. ScrapTheftAlert.com is a free tool for law enforcement that allows police and victims to alert the scrap industry of significant thefts of materials in the United States and Canada. StopMetalsTheft.org serves as an online resource for law enforcement, prosecutors, legislators, and the recycling industry by providing practical tools, success stories, news, legal resources, FAQs, and background on fighting metals theft.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) is the Voice of the Recycling Industry™. ISRI represents more than 1,600 companies in 21 chapters nationwide that process, broker and industrially consume scrap commodities, including metals, paper, plastics, glass, rubber, electronics and textiles. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the Institute provides safety, education, advocacy, and compliance training, and promotes public awareness of the vital role recycling plays in the U.S. economy, global trade, the environment and sustainable development.

CONTACT: Mark Carpenter Director of Media Relations and Online Comminications (202) 662-8525 MarkCarpenter@isri.orgSource:Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries