Sen. Chuck Hall, R-Perry, has filed the first Senate bill for the 2021 session. The measure, aimed at strengthening Oklahoma statutes on scrap metal theft, is named for a Tulsa police officer who helped formulate the language, but was later killed in the line of duty. Hall said Senate Bill 1 has been named the Sergeant Craig Johnson Oklahoma Scrap Metal Dealers Act in memory of the fallen officer.
Hall said SB 1 was actually introduced last year and was on track to make it all the way to the governor’s desk, but after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Capitol for a few weeks, it was one of several measures that did not make it through the process due to the shortened session. Members of the scrap metal industry, municipalities and law enforcement had been working with Hall on the proposal prior to the session, and Johnson was an active participant. Johnson died after being shot during a traffic stop in Tulsa last June.
“I was stunned and heartbroken by the news,” Hall said. “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 for 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 said the legislation simplifies, clarifies and strengthens the Oklahoma Scrap Metal Dealers Act by grouping together all definitions, listing all regulated items, eliminating duplicate language and enhancing statutory requirements that curtail metal theft.
“Scrap metal theft is a huge problem in our state, particularly copper wire theft. 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 requirements for seller identification and adds remote storage batteries to the list of regulated materials,” Hall said. “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. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get this bill signed into law this time and pay tribute to a true Oklahoma hero, Sgt. Craig Johnson.”
The 2021 session will convene on Feb. 1.
For more information, contact Sen. Chuck Hall, 405-521-5628, or email Chuck.Hall@oksenate.gov.