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Legislators, Mayors, Law Enforcement Tout ‘Comprehensive’ Legislation on Copper Wire Theft: Bill Will Legitimize Market, Reduce Demand for Stolen Material

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Monday, State Senator Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) and Representative Athena Hollins (DFL-St. Paul) joined Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, West Saint Paul Mayor Dave Napier, St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry, and other city and state stakeholders to speak on the legislative piece of a comprehensive solution to copper wire theft that has darkened city streets and parks in dozens of cities and towns across Minnesota. 

“When people break into streetlights for the $50 or so that they’ll get from selling the scrap wire, it makes our roads and parks dangerous for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike,” said Senator Pappas. “Representative Hollins and I have worked closely with cities, utilities, and labor organizations to develop a bill that we hope will be effective in curbing this crime. We’ve seen our law enforcement and neighborhoods stepping up to help curb this crime, and the legislative piece of this comprehensive solution is central to keeping the lights on in our cities.”

“Copper wire theft is far more than a nuisance; it poses a significant threat to public safety in our communities,” said Rep. Athena Hollins. “It is imperative that we hold accountable those who exploit the safety of others for personal gain. We all have a responsibility to take action and prevent further harm. This proposed legislation presents a crucial step in that direction, and I strongly support its swift passage.”

"Copper wire theft darkens our streets, compromises the safety of our residents, and takes away taxpayer dollars meant to fund essential city services,” said Mayor Carter. “This isn't just a Saint Paul issue. It's an issue negatively impacting communities in all corners of the state. Today, with the support of Rep. Hollins, Sen. Pappas, and mayors and law enforcement across Minnesota, we took the first united step in tackling the pressing issue of copper wire theft."

The legislation (SF 4455/HF 4461) would require all persons selling scrap copper wire to have a license in order to do so. If a scrap business purchases copper wire from someone without a license, they could lose their business license. Residents and businesses would still be able to recycle scrap copper for free. 

The House bill was heard in the House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee on Monday, April 8, at 1 p.m.

The Senate bill will be heard in the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee on Tuesday, April 9, at 12:30 p.m.