House of Representatives
Office of Program Research
|Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness Committee|
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.
Brief Description: Addressing the issue of stolen metal property.
Sponsors: Senate Committee on Judiciary (originally sponsored by Senators Tom, Holmquist, Kline, Roach, Kilmer, Marr, Sheldon, Morton, Pridemore, McCaslin, Berkey, Delvin, Shin, Rasmussen, Parlette and Stevens).
Brief Summary of Engrossed Substitute Bill
Hearing Date: 3/26/07
Staff: Sarah Beznoska (786-7109).
General Statutory Requirements Related to Second-Hand Metals
It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation engaged in the business of buying or otherwise obtaining new, used, or second-hand metals to purchase or otherwise obtain these metals unless a permanent record of the purchase of the metals is maintained. The permanent record must contain the following information: a general description of all property purchased; the type and quantity or weight; the name, address, driver's license number, and signature of the seller or the person making delivery; and a description of any motor vehicle and the license number thereof used in the delivery of such metals.
"Metals" means copper, copper wire, copper cable, copper pipe, copper sheets and tubing, copper bus, aluminum wire, brass pipe, lead, electrolytic nickel, and zinc.
A violation of this requirement is punishable, upon conviction, by a fine of not more than $500 or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or by both.
Pawnbrokers and Second-Hand Dealers
Washington regulates the business of pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers. "Pawnbroker" is defined as every person engaged, in whole or in part, in the business of loaning money on the security of pledges, deposits or conditional sales of personal property or the purchase and sale of personal property. "Second-hand dealer" is defined as every person engaged, in whole or in part, in the business of purchasing, selling, trading, consignment selling, or otherwise transferring for value, second-hand property, including metal junk, melted metals, and precious metals, whether or not the person maintains a fixed place of business within the state.
"Second-hand property" is defined to include any item of personal property offered for sale which is not new, including metals in any form.
Although the statutory definition of second-hand dealer refers to transactions involving metal junk, a separate provision of the statute exempts persons in the business of buying or selling metal junk from requirements governing pawnbroker and second-hand dealer transactions.
"Metal junk" is defined as any metal that has previously been milled, shaped, stamped, or forged and that is no longer useful in its original form, except precious metals. "Melted metals" is defined as metals derived from metal junk or precious metals that have been reduced to a melted state from other than ore or ingots which are produced from ore that has not previously been processed.
There are a variety of requirements that pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers must meet when engaging in transactions. These requirements include record keeping requirements and general restrictions on transferring property for 120 days after the police provide notification that property has been reported as stolen.
A recent Attorney General Opinion determined that the existing definitions of metal junk and second-hand property in the pawnbroker and second-hand dealer laws are not broad enough to include all metal that might be purchased for further processing. (AGO 2007 No. 3).
Summary of Bill:
General Statutory Requirements Related to Second-Hand Metals
The current statute related to keeping a permanent record of second-hand metal transactions is repealed.
Scrap Metal Businesses
New requirements are created for transactions between a scrap metal business and a member of the general public. The term "transaction" does not include donations, or the purchase or receipt of metal property by a scrap metal dealer or scrap metal processor from a commercial enterprise, from another scrap metal dealer or scrap metal processor, or from a duly authorized employee or agent of the commercial enterprise, scrap metal dealer, or scrap metal processor.
"Scrap metal business" means a scrap metal supplier, scrap metal recycling center, and scrap metal processor.
"Scrap metal supplier" means a person with a current business license that is engaged in the business of purchasing or receiving nonferrous metal property for the purpose of aggregation and sale to a scrap metal recycling center or scrap metal processor and that does not maintain a fixed business location in the state.
"Scrap metal recycling center" means a person with a current business license that is engaged in the business of purchasing or receiving non-ferrous metal property for the purpose of aggregation and sale to another scrap metal business and that maintains a fixed place of business within the state."
"Scrap metal processor" means a person with a current business license that conducts business from a permanent location, that is engaged in the business of purchasing or receiving metal property for the purpose of altering the metal in preparation for its use as feedstock in the manufacture of new products, and that maintains a hydraulic bailer, shearing device, or shredding device for recycling.
"Commercial enterprise" means a corporation, partnership, limited liability company, association, state agency, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or any other legal or commercial entity.
Record Keeping Requirements for Transactions Involving Non-Ferrous Metal Property
Specific record keeping requirements for transactions involving non-ferrous metal property are established. Records must be maintained for one year. The records that must be kept are:
A declaration requirement is also created for transactions involving non-ferrous metal property.
The person selling the property must sign a declaration that the property is not stolen. A
statement included on a receipt is sufficient to meet this requirement. An employee of the scrap
metal business must witness the signing and dating of the declaration and sign the declaration.
The required records and the declaration must be open to inspection by law enforcement at all times during the ordinary hours of business, or at reasonable times if ordinary hours of business are not kept.
A scrap metal business is prohibited from entering into a transaction to purchase or receive non-ferrous metal property unless the person can produce government-issued picture identification, including a valid driver's license or identification card issued by any state.
"Non-ferrous metal property" means metal property for which the value of the metal property is derived from the property's content of copper, brass, aluminum, bronze, led, zinc, nickel, and their alloys, and unwanted electronic product.
Commercial Metal Property
Specific requirements are created when scrap metal businesses purchase or receive commercial metal property. No scrap metal business may purchase or receive commercial metal property unless the seller:
To establish a commercial account with a commercial enterprise, a scrap metal business must
keep records with the commercial enterprise. The record must contain the name of the
commercial enterprise, the business address and telephone number of the commercial enterprise,
the full name of the person employed by the commercial enterprise who is authorized to
designate an employee or agent to deliver metal property and commercial metal property, and a
record of every purchase or receipt of metal property and commercial metal property from the
Commercial metal property means: utility access covers; street light poles and fixtures; road and bridge guardrails; highway or street signs; water meter covers; traffic directional and control signs; traffic light signals; any metal property marked with the name of a commercial enterprise, including but not limited to a telephone, cable, electric, water, natural gas, or other utility, or railroad; unused or undamaged building construction materials consisting of copper pipe, tubing, or wiring, or aluminum wire, siding, down spouts, or gutters; aluminum or stainless steel fence panels made from one-inch tubing, 42 inches high with four-inch gaps; aluminum decking, bleachers, or risers; historical markers; statue plaques; grave markers and funeral vases; and agricultural irrigation wheels, sprinkler heads, and pipes.
Scrap metal dealers or scrap metal processors are prohibited from entering into a transaction involving metallic wire that was burned in whole or in part to remove insulation unless the seller can produce written proof that the wire was lawfully burned.
Scrap metal dealers and scrap metal processors are prohibited from receiving beer kegs from anyone except a manufacturer of beer kegs or a licensed brewery.
Cash Transaction Requirements
Transactions involving non-ferrous metal property valued at greater than $30 may not be made in cash or to anyone who does not provide a street address. Payment must be by non-transferable check no earlier than 10 days after the transaction.
Requests from Law Enforcement
If requested by law enforcement, a scrap metal business must provide the transcript of records of the purchase or receipt of non-ferrous metal property involving a specific individual, vehicle, or item of non-ferrous metal property or commercial metal property. The information may be transmitted within a specified time of not less than two business days. The information may be transmitted electronically, by fax, by computer, or by delivery of a computer disk subject to approval by law enforcement.
If the scrap metal business has good cause to believe that non-ferrous metal property or commercial metal property in his or her possession is lost or stolen, the scrap metal business must report to law enforcement.
Preserving Evidence of Metal Theft
After notice from law enforcement that an item of non-ferrous metal property or commercial metal property has been reported as stolen, a scrap metal business must tag and hold that property for a period of time directed by law enforcement up to a maximum of 10 business days.
Law enforcement is prohibited from placing a hold unless law enforcement reasonably suspects that the property is a lost or stolen item and any hold my be removed within 10 business days.
It is a gross misdemeanor:
Any other violation of the requirements is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 for a first conviction and $2,000 for subsequent convictions within two years of the first violation.
The following entities are exempt from all of the requirements that apply to scrap metal businesses:
Fiscal Note: Preliminary fiscal note available.
Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.