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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL)

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Rep. Athena Hollins and Mayor Melvin Carter Statement on passage of Copper Wire Bill

Monday, May 20, 2024

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Over the weekend, in the last remaining days of the 93rd Minnesota Legislature, Representative Athena Hollins (DFL-Saint Paul) successfully included her copper wire bill in the 2024 Commerce Budget Bill, which passed in both the House and Senate chambers and is on its way to the Governor's desk to be signed into law.  

The provision establishes a license requirement for selling scrap copper. The application for a license must include the applicant’s name, permanent address, telephone number, and date of birth. The application fee is $250 and any approved license is valid for one year. All scrap metal dealers must scan an individual’s license to sell copper. Anyone with a license to perform electrical work is essentially granted a license through the existing licensing process.  

"This session, I have been dedicated to working relentlessly alongside countless advocates, dedicated leaders, and with the unwavering collaboration of our law enforcement and a courageous coalition of mayors who took a stand for their constituents to resolve this ongoing issue," declared Rep. Hollins. "For years, communities across our state have grappled with the public safety nightmare of the copper wire crisis. Today, thanks to this legislation, we have taken a monumental step forward. I am proud to support our local law enforcement in addressing the issue and implement strong provisions to hold bad actors accountable, ultimately keeping our communities and their safety a priority."

Saint Paul Mayor, Melvin Carter adds the following statement:  

"This statewide solution puts us ahead of a problem local communities can only chase from behind. I am thankful to Rep. Hollins and Sen. Pappas for carrying this bill, and to mayors across Minnesota who spoke up in support of this effort, as we work to relight the over 2,000 lamps that have been disabled across our city over the past year.” 

For the past four years, Saint Paul residents and the city have been battling a wave of streetlamp thefts. Thieves target the green lamps, prying open the lower access panels to steal the wiring. This vandalism plunges streets and parks into darkness. Thieves have been stripping copper wire out of streetlamps and, more recently, other wired gear such as telephone systems, traffic lights, and HVAC systems.