House Passes Bill to Regulate Secondary Metals Sales

BOSTON – October 21, 2015 – Representative Jennifer Benson joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass legislation that regulates secondary metal sales, a previously unregulated industry in the state. The bill establishes various systems to track sales and prevent theft, and sets a civil penalty structure for violations under the proposed Chapter.

The bill creates a registration system requiring secondary metals dealers to register with their local municipality. The registration form and corresponding fees are to be determined by the municipality’s chief of police or other designee.

“Today the House took a positive step towards creating a fair and balanced system of best management practices that strengthen the laws that regulate the sale and purchase of secondary metals in order to reduce theft and establish a unified system across the Commonwealth,” said Representative Jennifer Benson, Chair of the Joint Committee on the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure. “With this bill, we are enacting a common sense measure to ensure not only that private property is protected, but to help our public safety partners in doing their due diligence. This legislation protects consumers’ interests, and will reduce scrap metal theft in Massachusetts.”

In addition to new civil penalties, which would be payable to the municipality in which the violation occurred, this legislation proposes a “tag and hold” system requiring a scrap processor or recycling facility to hold items that have been reported stolen for 48 hours.

Additionally, registered dealers would have to follow the below requirements prior to purchase.

  • Obtain a Massachusetts or state issued photo identification, or a federal employer identification number for a business selling secondary metals;
  • Keep a daily transaction log; and
  • Maintain records of all transactions for one year. These records must be made available for inspection by state and local police upon request.

The bill also establishes a list of prohibited items including:

  • Cemetery plaques;
  • Historical markers;
  • Full-sized new materials, like those used in construction, and tools used by contractors;
  • Traffic signs;
  • Beer kegs;
  • Any item bearing the mark of a government entity, utility or communications company; and
  • Copper wire (the insulation around which the dealer knew or reasonably should have known had been stripped away)