Oklahoma Sen. Chuck Hall has filed SB 1 as the first bill for the state’s 2021 legislative session. According to a news release from the Oklahoma Senate’s website, the measure is aimed at strengthening the state’s statutes on scrap metal theft.
SB 1, or the Sergeant Craig Johnson Oklahoma Scrap Metal Dealers Act, is named after a police officer from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who helped formulate the language for the bill but was killed in the line of duty. Hall says SB1 was introduced last year and was on track to make it to the governor’s desk, but after the pandemic shut down the state’s Capitol for a few weeks, it was one of several measures that did not make it through the process due to a shortened session.
According to a statement from the Oklahoma Senate, members of the scrap metal industry, municipalities and law enforcement officials had been working with Hall on the SB 1 proposal prior to the session, and Johnson was an active participant in crafting this legislation. Johnson died after being shot during a traffic stop in Tulsa in June.
“I was stunned and heartbroken by the news,” Hall says. “Although I had not known Sgt. Johnson long, it was clear he was a person who was passionate about public safety and public service. He made important contributions to our efforts to help us better address this crime. On at least one occasion, he visited me in my hometown of Perry. When we had the opportunity to refile the bill at the start of the 58th Legislature, I jumped at the chance to honor his life and service to his city, police department and our state.”
Hall says SB 1 “simplifies, clarifies and strengthens” the Oklahoma Scrap Metal Dealers Act by grouping together all definitions, listing all regulated items, eliminating the duplicate language and enhancing statutory requirements that curtail metal theft.
“Scrap metal theft is a huge problem in our state, particularly copper wire theft,” he says. “This is a comprehensive approach to make sure all the relevant laws are in one place in the statutes and that any duplicate language is eliminated, making it easier for scrap metal dealers and other buyers to see exactly what is required to comply. It tightens the requirements for seller identification and adds remote storage batteries to the list of regulated materials. There was overwhelming support for this measure in the Senate last session, and I’m sure, if not for the pandemic, it would have made it to the governor’s desk.”
The 2021 session convenes Feb. 1.